Obliged, but it’s not that scandalous!

June 20, 2006 § Leave a comment

The backstory: a couple of weeks ago at the Clo-terium I was in a break of five that lapped the field. Somewhere in the middle of the race the officials swapped my number in the break with the number of a woman in the pack and didn’t notice the discrepancy between the numbers in the break for the first & last halves of the race. Post race I screwed up and was a little lax on checking the results, perhaps a little overconfident and flushed having been in the break and all. When I came up a little after the protest period I discovered that this other person had been given my place.

Whoops.

After a little wheedling and a lot of apologizing to & thanking of the officials we got that sorted out…but the girl who had been given my placing had already come by to take the prize money. Now, I know I messed up by not checking right away, but I had a batch of teammates who had blocked the whole race (no one else in the break had any) & who deserved something. Taking her perspective, I have been awarded placings that I didn’t earn. In that situation my response is always to do what’s right; in those cases the right thing has been to go to the official and let them know that they put me too high on the list and that I don’t want credit for something I didn’t earn. Even if it’s after the protest period and the rules would permit my keeping the higher place. Sportsmanship means a lot to me in general, and in a community as small as ours it’s that much more important to me.

So we spend quite a while looking for this girl who apparently didn’t know there had been a break (giving her the benefit of the doubt, though I don’t know how anyone could miss a break going off and then coming back up through the pack). She’s nowhere to be found. When I get home I take a couple of minutes to write a little e-note to her via her team; it wasn’t an accusation, it was an explanation of what had happened and a request that we chat about it. In her place I would have wanted to know.

A day later I get a response. From the race director. Chewing me out for missing the protest period again. She’d gone and tattled. So much for doing this like adults…

I respond with my perspective on sportsmanship and the ethics of this situation (and my knowledge of the rules & acknowledgement that I had made a mistake by missing the protest period). In my response I mention that I have been in the position she was in and have always let sportsmanship dictate my actions, & I generally get a bit off my chest without calling anyone any names. Maturity is not completely abandoned, I do not shudder at my own reflection.

A few emails later we seem to have resolved it; she has offered to write a check for the difference between the prizes we received, I make sure she is comfortable with that solution and that it won’t affect our interactions at future races and we agree to meet at an upcoming race. Everything is all friendly and chipper and we are both on the same page. My faith in human nature has been tested, but good prevailed.

Fast forward to Folsom. She goes back on her word. Doesn’t care about doing the right thing, about honesty/fairness/sportsmanship, about the fact that this situation could really muck up the dynamic of future races for both of us. Nope. It’s hers now, they gave it to her, nah nah nah.

My faith in human nature crawls under the seat of my truck and I haven’t been able to coax it back out yet.

(In case it gets lost in the saga up there, I want to state explicitly that in my mind this is not about the money. This is about doing the right thing, about sportsmanship, about respect for your competitors, and at the end about keeping your word. And I have been wickedly disappointed.)

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