At first, I debated on whether to write a piece on Meghan Vogel’s act of character where she took it upon herself to help an exhausted runner, one near collapse, finish in the 3200 meter Ohio state meet race. She actually put the girl’s arm around her shoulders, supporting her weight, and nearly dragged her fellow competitor across the finish line from about 50 meters out.
My hesitation to post an article on this tremendous display of sportsmanship had nothing to do with the act itself, but rather the fact that it is being well publicized (and rightfully so). I just didn’t want to become another loudspeaker drowned out by the multitude of media picking it up.
However, as I read through several great pieces on what happened, and watched the video of Meghan’s uncompromising act of kindness (imbedded above), I couldn’t help but notice reference to some individuals’ negative, belittling comments. A little miffed, I hunted some of them down, and to be frankly honest, upon reading them, I was pissed!!!
Things like, and I quote:
"Hey! Way to make a stupid childish gesture showing you have no conception of what 'competition' means."
“…while she probably had good intentions, the girl who had fallen was less than 20 meters from the finish. No need to act like this is the bravest (or even most selfless) act ever committed!!”
“It was dam race(not life and dead)…... let the girl finish or crawl on her own(or not finish), that would of been the thing to do and see (a video I could respect)….instead many are making this out to be like a soldier carrying the wounded back to safety…....which this video implies!”
"Gimme a damn break… Both girls knew they were going to get major credit for doing this.”
“She should have stood over her and began berating her to motivate her to get up and run. You can't foster weakness. It must be eradicated in order for humanity to regain what its lost.”
“Sure she is special and should be in the retarded olympics.”
Where the heck do I start?
Ok, how about this? Those who are trying to minimize or disparage this act of sportsmanship as not a big deal, demean it with a comment that has the terms “retarded Olympics” in it, or infer that both girls had ulterior motives, have no idea what a real champion is all about. The type of dedication, work ethic, sacrifice, heart, etc., it takes to win a state championship, as Meghan did in the 1600 meter state championship race prior to the 3200, and then go out of her way to help a fallen competitor in another race, well…it is something they simply cannot comprehend.
And if any of those belittling what Meghan did were lucky enough to have reached the high school pinnacle of their sport (which I doubt), then they learned absolutely nothing from their semi-successful experience as an athlete―NOT A THING!!!
It reminds me of the ignorance that some have demonstrated with regard to my former sport of gymnastics when they state it is not a real sport since it is subjectively judged, does not use a ball, or has no finish line. It astounds me, the lack of vision a few people have. Sometimes, I just smile and remind myself that some are just not capable of seeing beyond their simplistic and narrow observations.
To me, this situation is no different. The negative opinions expressed regarding Meghan’s genuinely human act of helping a fallen comrade during competition speaks loudly about the character she has, the kind that seems in short supply these days. You see being a champion, a true champion, is not just about “winning” the race, it’s about who one is on the inside, how they act both on the field (during competition), as well as off of it.
In summation, I would like to leave you with a quote:
And part of that process centers on good sportsmanship, the kind of sportsmanship that inspired a state champion to help someone in need. Yep, Meghan Vogel has learned all about the process, not something I could say about the commenters who ignorantly made those statements I quoted above.
Great job Meghan, keep up the good work. Our youth sports culture sure could use more examples like you; they seem to be in short supply.