Join 3,411 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Part Speed, Part Stamina, All Heart
June 5, 2012 3:25 PM   Subscribe

An hour after winning a state track championship in the 1600-meter open, Ohio high school runner Meghan Vogel tried for a second title in the 3200-meter. She came in last.

Hey, remember that time a couple softball players helped their opponent score a home run? And that other time a high-school runner crawled across the finish line in hopes of securing a championship for her seriously-ill coach? And that time a whole team forfeited a game so they could coach their novice opponents? Don't worry, Meghan Vogel's got them all beat.

Actually she probably just wants to hang out with them while they all feed the hungry and snuggle rainbow glitter kittens, or something.
posted by Snarl Furillo (43 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
I half-seriously expect a right-wing columnist to write an article about how this is bad.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:26 PM on June 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Forsaking a win is worth the college admissions essay.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 3:27 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


What if she hadn't won the previous race?
posted by ReeMonster at 3:29 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aww.
posted by figurant at 3:30 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I half-seriously expect a right-wing columnist to write an article about how this is bad.

It's because of liberal crap like this that the economy is in the toilet. America is teaching its children that it's WRONG TO WIN.

Heh.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:32 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


This might be why that post from yesterday with all the jokes about kids being stupid, lazy, and fat, just didn't sit right with me.

Good for Meghan!
posted by HuronBob at 3:35 PM on June 5, 2012


I half-seriously expect a right-wing columnist to write an article about how this is bad.

They were on Fox & Friends this morning. I would love to know how the amount of cognitive dissonance on display didn't cause the entirety of New York City to collapse around 1211 Avenue of the Americas instantly.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 3:40 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


America is teaching its children that it's WRONG TO WIN.

I had an argument last month with a family member on this exact score! They asked (in regards to one of my nephew's Little League games), "so, who won?" When I said I didn't know, they flew into a rage: "Of course no one won, because NO ONE KEEPS SCORE ANYMORE. This is why the country isn't competing! This is why Obama got rid of the jobs! This all started with goddamn LBJ* and it's gone downhill ever since! Because of the liberal claptrap that it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. That's bullshit! It's ONLY about whether you win or lose!"

I then pointed out that I didn't say no one had won, only that I didn't know who won, merely because I hadn't called my nephews yet to find out.

*No, I don't know what LBJ has to do with it, either. The Voting Act? The Civil Rights Act? They both outlawed scorekeeping in sports? Beats me.

posted by scody at 3:43 PM on June 5, 2012 [20 favorites]


Wow. Jason Alexander, and now Meghan Vogel. Can we go for a third FPP about a very classy person? Anyone?
posted by Danf at 3:44 PM on June 5, 2012


What if she hadn't won the previous race?

Read the article. She was already in last place when she helped the other runner -- she'd blown out all her energy on the first race, and could barely finish the second.
posted by vorfeed at 3:45 PM on June 5, 2012


Hell, what's the point in even HAVING opponents if you're not going to see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of the wimmen? Why even have track meets? Why not just have FRIENDSHIP MEETS or something, where everybody's just NICE to each other?!

Can you imagine the kind of would that would lead to?!?! CAN YOU???
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:47 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


..."world." Not "would." Enjoying self too much to proofread. Will stop now.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 3:48 PM on June 5, 2012


I half-seriously expect a right-wing columnist to write an article about how this is bad.
The end of the article says she is to be interviewed by Fox and Friends. So I assume they will not call her act a liberal politically correct one.
posted by Rashomon at 3:49 PM on June 5, 2012


What if she hadn't won the previous race?

She might have been way in front of the other girl and would never have seen her go down.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:49 PM on June 5, 2012


I actually thought this was something that both right-wingers and left-wingers can all love, and I'm confused as to why that issue was injected into this discussion. It was a very nice act of sportsmanship, I thought.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:50 PM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yes, but Ayn Rand would disapprove.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:52 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, but Ayn Rand would disapprove.

Ayn Rand would likely argue that the only thing Ms. Vogel could have done right was to allow herself to be taken roughly by the misunderstood architect who designed the stadium in which she ran.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:59 PM on June 5, 2012 [37 favorites]


I remember watching the Olympics sometime when I was a kid (would have been '80 or '84, most likely) and one of the runners fell. Everyone kept on going. I asked my mom why nobody helped her. "That's just not how it's done" was her answer.

That bothered the preteen altruist in me, and I always thought that if I had been in that position, I would have helped the girl. I don't know whether it's true. Maybe competition would have gotten the better of me.

I'm glad someone else rose above it, though.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:06 PM on June 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


I actually thought this was something that both right-wingers and left-wingers can all love, and I'm confused as to why that issue was injected into this discussion.

If you're confused now, by November you'll be reeling from the effects of what will seem to you to be a full-on angry, roiling brain cloud. It'll be better by late winter, provided the vote counts go smoothly.
posted by mph at 4:13 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Noble and awesome, but if I was injured or collapsed I'd probably want to be left where I was.

"What the heck are you doing? Please put me down. Call a doctor, for fuck's sake!"
posted by loquacious at 4:20 PM on June 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, this video beats all the rest of 'em
posted by Windigo at 4:23 PM on June 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


I half-seriously expect a right-wing columnist to write an article about how this is bad.

She's a secret Obama plant, sent in to name-drop Harriet Tubman and denigrate the integrity of athletics. That, and something about the war on women.
posted by Chuffy at 4:33 PM on June 5, 2012


Personally, I'm with loquacious in the "Call a doctor, for fuck's sake!" camp, but maybe with all these stories popping up regularly, it's possible that there are actually a lot more nice, caring people in the world than some would have you believe.

This was, indeed, awesome, but there's something slightly screwed up about a world in which "person stops to help up a stranger who has fallen on the ground" is a major national story.
posted by zachlipton at 4:38 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember watching the Olympics and one of the runners fell.... Maybe competition would have gotten the better of me...

I think a distinction must be made as to when someone falls and what place someone - who potentially would come to their aid - is in with relation to the person who has fallen.

- Early in a race most likely no one would stop.
- Faster runners lapping the slower runners [in long track races] would not stop.
- Meghan may not have stopped if she were in contention for a high finishing place - or a win.
- If you are close to last place and your finishing place does not matter then helping someone across the line is much easier to do than if you are in any other situation.

I don't think competition is necessarily the sole reason for others not helping. I don't think most runners greet a fellow competitors fall with indifference or joy or relief. Rather they are running their own race and trying to survive to the line as well. But when you are the last two runners on the track then helping someone across the line with you is a lot more of an obvious choice.
posted by Rashomon at 4:41 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, I know this is just my own personal pathology speaking, but I would find it pretty humiliating to have someone carry me to the finish line.

I fell down. Quit showing off by drawing even more attention to me.

Yeah, I know, just my own personal pathology. I'm working on it.
posted by ook at 4:43 PM on June 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


This was, indeed, awesome, but there's something slightly screwed up about a world in which "person stops to help up a stranger who has fallen on the ground" is a major national story.

Well, sports aren't random strangers passing on the street; it's a controlled competitive environment where those participating share a common cultural understanding that they're testing physical ability and mental determination against the clock and one another. If you fall, you fall; there's medical staff and coaches and teammates and friends and parents on hand to look after your well-being outside of the issue of how well (or whether) you finished the event.

Folks running in an organized race are generally running it because they showed up to compete, and have a mutual understanding of that. What Vogel did is interesting more for how it's a compassionate violation of actually pretty reasonable expectations of competitive behavior in a non-crisis situation than as some violation of an expectation that a stranger will step over the wounded body of another stranger on the street.
posted by cortex at 4:56 PM on June 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


This sort of thing reminds me of Dorando Pietri and all the popular support he received as a result of his efforts. It's a different understanding of sportsman- (and sportswoman-) ship that many hold today.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:14 PM on June 5, 2012


It's heartwarming, alright, but I'm really impressed that it occurred to her to stop at all. In that tiny moment between seeing someone fall and passing them, her mind told her to stop and help rather than just finish and be done. Neat.
posted by Mooski at 5:48 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did the other girl really need to be carried across the finish line? She was only a couple of hundred metres away; she probably would have made it on her own.
Call me a heartless cynic, but maybe Vogel saw this as an opportunity to turn a humiliating loss into a win.
posted by Flashman at 5:50 PM on June 5, 2012


Famously (in Australia at least), John Landy (former world record holder, probably the favourite to win) stopped during the 1956 Australian Championships 1-mile race to help up his competitor Ron Clarke - a video of the original broadcast is on youtube.

It's one of two incidents in his running career that were immortalised as sculptures - the other is from the 1954 British Empire Games, where he was running against Roger Bannister: the race was billed as the Miracle Mile, between the only two men who'd ever run it in under 4 minutes. As Landy rounded the final corner and looked to his left to check on Bannister, Bannister passed him on the right to win.
posted by jacalata at 5:52 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


As the parent of two high school athletes, the amount of sportsmanship I see during competition is quite encouraging. When a competing school shows up without matching gear or less than a full roster (and yet they are in the same league/district/etc.) it's the kids who demand equity, not the coaches.

Competition is healthy: it helps the competitor know their ability and what to improve, IF the coaching is competent, which I think is key.

Nonetheless, the kids are the ones who appear to be driving competition contrary to the Mr. Rogers milquetoast no-score games I was forced to coach during my kids' formative years.
posted by grefo at 6:06 PM on June 5, 2012


All the media attention must be tough on the other girl.
posted by Area Man at 6:14 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did the other girl really need to be carried across the finish line? She was only a couple of hundred metres away; she probably would have made it on her own.
Call me a heartless cynic, but maybe Vogel saw this as an opportunity to turn a humiliating loss into a win.


Yes, I think from the video it's pretty clear that Arden McMath isn't going anywhere on her own. At the finish line, Vogel takes her arm off the girl's shoulder and supports her at the waist with both hands, nudging her over the finish line ahead of her. She continues to hold the girl up as the track stewards arrive; McMath would have fallen again if the stewards hadn't both been supporting her.

This is actually not uncommon in cross country. I've seen a boys' cross country district final in which a runner from one school stopped and went back to pull a competitor off the ground; he grabbed the back of the other guy's singlet and announced, "I'm not finishing without you!" They were seniors, had been rivals for four years, facing each other in up to 10 races a year, and neither was going to win the race. May as well cross the line together.

Abject collapses are also ludicrously common in XC. Kids run themselves to pieces. It's not unusual to see a finish stretch dual with both competitors casually turning their heads to vomit every few seconds down the last couple hundred meters. I was privileged to see Jenny Barringer's second state championship (no, not the 16:55 one, the 17:08 one), when she beat the second place runner by just under a minute. The second runner, and about 5 more in the next 20, came into the chute, stepped on the finish mat and promptly face-planted. The track stewards didn't even blink; just grabbed girls by the wrists and dragged their limp bodies to the med tent for fluids. And this was Florida in late November - usually pretty mild running weather. I can only imagine Ohio in June.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:26 PM on June 5, 2012


Did the other girl really need to be carried across the finish line? She was only a couple of hundred metres away; she probably would have made it on her own.
Call me a heartless cynic, but maybe Vogel saw this as an opportunity to turn a humiliating loss into a win.


Eh, I don't think so. Vogel had already broken her school's record and won the first state title in 20 years in the mile. She knew halfway through the race that she didn't have anything in the tank for it and decided she just wanted to finish. She also knew that there was no real difference between a 14 out of 15 and a 15 out of 15- but there's a huge difference between a 15 out of 15 and a Did Not Finish, and that's what she spared McMath from.

I half-seriously expect a right-wing columnist to write an article about how this is bad.

The AP story on this (which isn't in the post) mentioned that Vogel actually DID get some grief from, basically, sports talk radio callers and Internet trolls, who more or less criticized her for not felling her enemies and consuming their still-beating hearts right there on the track, or something. It's a kind of willful misunderstanding of what prep athletics are supposed to do and be. We are actually still pretending there is an educational component to the whole affair, and the relevant lessons include, "When another person collapses in front of you, don't take advantage of their distress to further your own ends. In fact, possibly try to help them."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 6:29 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't worry, Meghan Vogel's got them all beat.

It was a nice gesture and great sportsmanship, but the post is quite misleading. In a competitive sense, she sacrificed basically nothing. She's not giving up fame and glory to help a fellow runner. (But she did help a fellow runner, so kudos for that.) Also, not everyone would have done this, but I would imagine a lot of people would have.
posted by snofoam at 6:54 PM on June 5, 2012


It's in all honesty, blah. It's a nice gesture as others have said, but she lost nothing.

Another attempt at a human interest story that's not that interesting.
posted by Benway at 7:45 PM on June 5, 2012


So, I know this is just my own personal pathology speaking, but I would find it pretty humiliating to have someone carry me to the finish line.

To be honest, me too. I would be mortified right now. But yeah, probably my own personal trip there...

All the media attention must be tough on the other girl.

If it were me, I would turn off the TV and stay inside for a few days. But yeah, again, me.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:29 PM on June 5, 2012


The ESPN story says that
By rule, a runner in track or cross country is automatically disqualified for aiding another runner, but meet officials chose to leave McMath and Vogel in the results rather than take action.
So it wasn't costless: by aiding McMath she was potentially facing disqualification. That's a pretty big price to pay for a competitive runner.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:34 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think most runners greet a fellow competitors fall with indifference or joy or relief. Rather they are running their own race and trying to survive to the line as well. But when you are the last two runners on the track then helping someone across the line with you is a lot more of an obvious choice.

Most? No. Some? Yes:
Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel. A facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not. Have you heard my favorite story that came from the Seattle Special Olympics? Well, for the 100-yard dash there were nine contestants, all of them so-called physically or mentally disabled. All nine of them assembled at the starting line and at the sound of the gun, they took off. But not long afterward one little boy stumbled and fell and hurt his knee and began to cry. The other eight children heard him crying; they slowed down, turned around and ran back to him. Every one of them ran back to him. One little girl with Down Syndrome bent down and kissed the boy and said, "This'll make it better." And the little boy got up and he the rest of the runners linked their arms together and joyfully walked to the finish line. They all finished the race at the same time. And when they did, everyone in that stadium stood up and clapped and whistled and cheered for a long, long, time. People who were there are still telling the story with great delight. And you know why. Because deep down, we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.
-- Fred Rogers, Dartmouth 2002
posted by plinth at 2:26 AM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not be all "Someone is WRONG on the internet," but that story Mr. Rogers told is not quite how it went down. That said, that even one contestants in that race too helped their fellow runner warms my little heart.
posted by knile at 4:21 AM on June 6, 2012


I'm not much of a sports guy--in spite of my amazing physique and incredible natural athleticism--so I'm curious. Is there some compelling reason why Arden needed to make it across the finish line? Is there some big consequence for not completing the race? Why not just lie down and wait for help?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:10 AM on June 6, 2012


I don't see what the big deal is. She was going to be one of the bottom spots anyway. If she was contending for a top 3 spot she wouldn't have stopped.
posted by zephyr_words at 7:00 AM on June 6, 2012


Is there some big consequence for not completing the race?

Well, it's a long race, man, and it's hard to run that hard, that far, and not finish. *shrug*

One of the things I always liked about track was that you stand and watch all the runners finish -- and in a good audience, you get cheers and applause even (or especially) for the competitors who are sucking wind or staggering, but still trying. Yes, most other sports do this, too. I know.

This past Sunday my town did a little meet for grade schoolers. There weren't many people in the stands to watch, but I made sure to get on my feet and clap when I spotted that last runner dragging ass around the final turn when the other kids were already on their way to the podium to have their names read out. And I was pleased that some other parents joined in, too.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:46 AM on June 6, 2012


« Older Vertical Video Syndrome...  |  What We Left Out of Our Report... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments