Cross Country Rule Goes Against Hamilton Athletic Principles

By: Gracie Grady

Just 2 places shy of qualifying for the Minnesota State Cross Country
meet last year, Gracie Bucher set out with high hopes a few weeks ago.
Right from the beginning, she had chest pain. But, she persevered because
this is all she had worked for. She was only 100 yards from the finish
line when she fell for the first time. After gaining enough strength
to get up, Bucher repeatedly fell for the next 25 yards.  Feeling
completely hopeless, Bucher couldn’t get up on her own. But, thanks to
senior Blomgeren, she didn’t have to.

Blomgeren saw Bucher struggling to stand. She knew what she had to do.
Blomgeren picked up Buchen and helped hold her weight across the
finish line. In what became her last meet of her high school cross
country career, Blomgeren got disqualified for her selfless act that
will leave Bucher forever thankful.

At Hamilton, coaches value good sportsmanship like this. They push us
to be better people every day. Although our coaches emphasize the
importance of sportsmanship, The National Federation of State High
School (NFHS) has a rule that disqualified a runner for showing
selfless actions at the most important meet of the season.

Sportsmanship is defined as ethical, appropriate, polite and fair
behavior while participating in a game or athletic event. Coaches
preach to us every practice to have good sportsmanship. They tell us
it isn’t about winning the race as long as we love what we do and love
others who do it. Sports are a way to learn important life lessons
while having fun. However, the NFHS has implemented a rule that
demoralizes cross country and sports in general.

A rule has been in place for many years that disqualifies any athlete
who assists another athlete to finish a race. The NFHS’s rule that
penalizes athletes for treating others how they wish to be treated has
brought on an enormous amount of criticism. In fact, they have
received enough criticism to change the rule. Beginning with the 2017
Track and Field season, athletes will be able to assist other runners
if medical professionals are not present.

When asked if he would help up a runner in a race, Hamilton cross
country runner Caleb Berens unreluctantly said, “Yeah, I think I would
help them finish the race because I know how much work they have put
into the season because I have put in that much work, so I wouldn’t
want that for them.”

Berens was not aware that his caring action would get him disqualified
from the state meet. When asked the same question again, this time
knowing the consequences, Berens still held true to his morals and
said, “Yeah, I would help him because it’s kind of what cross country
is: it’s about selflessness and that’s worth more than any time I
could get.”

“I think that I am against that rule because I feel that cross country
is a sport about selflessness and learning that the world isn’t about
you. That rule goes against that by supporting you to not help
somebody,” Hamilton Cross Country runner Caleb Berens.

Cross country encourages selflessness, hard work, honesty,
persistence, and accountability. True athletes will put these
principles above any medal or personal record. After months of
training, pain, and hard work, many athletes still hold tight to the
real reason why they run and would give up all of their hard work just
to stay true to why they are a part of cross country. Not even this
rule can stop the true meaning of why they run.