Watching the final men’s short track speed skating competition in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, many people were astonished. The decision made by the referee caused people to feel confused and very angry. How could this happen at the Olympics, considered to be the fairest game in the world?
There were doubtful decisions in not only short track speed skating, but also figure skating and cross-country skiing. People who watched these events via mass media said, “The U.S. took too many advantages in holding the Olympics on their own ground.” In the end, it ranked third in the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.
The Olympic ideal has always stood for fair plays and decisions. Showing favoritism toward your own countries’ athletes, and allowing politics to influence those ideals could destroy what the Olympics have represented up to present. Then what about the home team advantage?
History showed that Korea also took advantage by hosting the 1988 Summer Olympic Games in Seoul. And it is well-known fact that famous pro-sports such as basketball and soccer always take the advantage when they have a game on their own turf. So we may accept the home team advantage as a factor to help the hosting country win. All thing considered, the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Gameswere surely unfair in some events, especially in the men’s short track speed skating.
There were decisions aimed specifically at Korean competitors. Not only Korea, but also Japan protested these decisions. Unfortunately, the protest of Korea was not accepted.
Leaving the public a new awareness, the 2002 Winter Olympic Games ended. The final controversy demonstrated how much power a referee holds in their final judgement. If outer influences continue to determine judging decisions, athletes would have to try to read the host nation’s mind before any competitions.
As we all know, another great international game is up coming. The 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan is just around the corner. Can we anticipate that those host nations which were hurt by the unfairness in Salt Lake City will resort to the same tactics on their own turf? The answer would be “no”.
Referee have decided to judge strictly against violations in this World Cup. Specifically, violations with ‘Hollywood action’ will be treated with a yellow card. Let’s look at another situations and how the problem was handled.
Bad manners in games
Not long ago, an Asian club championship game was held with Suwon Samsung, Korea, and Daren Sda, China, at the Jeju World Cup Stadium. Violent fouls and cheating plays occurred during that game. The Daren Sda played vigorously throughout the match. In order to advance to the semifinals, they had to win the last game. As a result, the Daren Sda team plainly fired shots in succession with intentional fouls. In the end, a dangerous state almost occurred.
A similar case related to the Samsung and Shinsegi basketball game showed the same bad manner. Gang Hyk committed a bizarre foul when he seized the genitals of a Shinsegi player. Unfortunately, Gang’s technique was too fast to be noticed. Even Enosa, the victim, said he was not clear whether the they did something or not in that moment of confusion.
Lee Choong-hee, a top shooter on the active list, was embarrassed by another foul when an opponent spit in his face. Maybe it is impossible for players to remain calm in the heat of competition. If pro players do not have the moral conscience to protect each other, the court will become merely a battlefield.
Professional players are expected to have great ability. Spectators want to watch a team win not by cheating but by their real ability. There is an urgent need for professional players to seriously adhere to good conduct when they play. Doping tests
At the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games, Lazutina and Danirova were deprived of gold medals after coming a positive reaction for drugs. Moreover, they are now unable to compete in any future qualifying events.
Taking unauthorized medicine is strictly prohibited in any competition. Not only can it compromise fair sportsmanship, but it can endanger the life of the athlete. The World Anti-Doping Agency(WADA) has fought long and hard to prevent this. At the 2002 World Cup Korea/Japan, it will play an important role in assuring fair and drug free play throughout the games.
Doping tests reduce the players’ hazards to the minimum. However, it can also increase the mental burden of the players. Unfortunately, there are always two sides to a story. Two years ago, Jin Pil-joong, a finishing pitcher of the Doosan Bears, went through great distress to control his own poor condition. He caught a cold but could not take any medicine because of the strict doping test.
Last March, Frank De Vor was disqualified from competing in all international games for one year, including the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan, because he tested positive to a doping test. He denied the accusation and appealed to the Union des Associations Europeennes de Football(UEFA).
Because of his appeal, the UEFA changed his penalty from one year to 11 weeks, thus allowing him to participate in the upcoming World Cup. The UEFA concluded that, “De Vor didn’t intend illegal action, but instead, ate rotten food.” This allegation had to be settled without delay in order to insure high efficiency of training time.
Past examples of judging error
One of the well-known examples of misjudgement was the World Cup Finals at Wembley Stadium in 1966. The home team, West Germany, tied the score (2:2) at the very last moment of the game. During the overtime play, Hust, player for England, shot the first extension goal. The goal fell down at the goal line nearly perpendicular after hitting the crossbar. In the end, England defeated West Germany, 4 to 2. Ten years later, the truth came out.
After gathering 100 photographs, and carefully analyzing all the information, the English Daily Mail clearly proved it was not a goal after all. Bogt, the coach of the West German team at that time, finally came forward and said that they tied their rival in the runoff but it was unfair. He also admitted that England did play a better game. Ultimately, his statement settled this dispute.
Another example involved the American judges at the baseball semifinals in Sydney, Australia. Korea and the United States played for five hours. Korea was finally defeated in a 2 to 3 reverse decision.
A student of Korea University, Jeong Dae-hyun, was pitching very well and the score was 1 to 2. An American was up at bat in the 7th inning when he made a base hit. It was clear to see he was out, but the umpire at first base called it safe. Mr. Jeong was so distracted and upset by the call, he had to be replaced on the mound by another pitcher.
When a right fielder made another hit, the play was misjudged again. The player who ran to third base was out because his hand did not touch the base. However, the third base umpire did not call it. Korean players protested severely but were not heard what they wanted to. In the end, Korea lost the flow of the game and had to be satisfied with the bronze medal.
The preventive measures
In Italy, the RAI, an Italian public broadcasting company, helps to insure accurate decisions. It broadcasted a program called Don’t Day a Goal(Mai dire Gol) at 9 p.m. every Sunday. In this program, they show controversial plays, over and over again.
Then it asked referees, players, journalists and fans whether it was the right call or not. When an important game was held, nearly 20 cameras recorded and showed it.
Basketball also has many preventive measures. According to a officer of the Korean Basketball League(KBL), the KBL records and analyzes games of the previous day in detail.
If there is an error made by the residing official, the KBL stops the referee who made the mistake and either gives him a fine or keeps him from judging other events. Referees also get a special education for judging. For example, the NBA gives a lecture to all referees before the game. Moreover, the KBL sends 7 or 8 referee to the NBA to study every year. The KBL has 15 referees who they evaluate and even replace if necessary.
The Women’s Korea Basketball League(WKBL), made a special rule during last years winter league. While three referees make the decision, the other 12 referees sit in the front row and monitor how many errors are made. The results are then submitted to the chief referee, Won In-goo. The WKBL announces nearly 10 judging errors are made each game. An official said that it will decrease misjudgement.
What is sportsmanship?
Sportsmanship is the sound and modest manner or etiquette of players. It is translated into spirit of the players and is even referred to as knighthood in Europe. It has a similar meaning to fair play. According to the Olympic rules, players must be amateurs and participate in the Olympic Games for free. However, professional players can participate too. Nowadays, two kinds of players take part in the Olympics. Some players get huge fame and money from their participation in the Olympics.
In June of this year, Korea and Japan will host the World Cup Championships. You will see fabulous plays and top athletes throughout Korea and Japan. Moreover, local elections and even the presidential election will take place this year. How many good competitions can we expect to see in 2002?
We just want to see the players who do their best and are judged fairly. Spectators’ attitudes are as important as those of the players and judges. Sports fans have to monitor the players and referees whether they do correctly or not.
Kim Soo-jeong Editor-in-chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Koo Sun-mo Desk of International and Social Affair email@example.com