Why Apolo Ohno Was Disqualified in the 500
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
- 2010 Feb 28
Apolo Ohno raced from fourth to second to apparently win the silver medal in the 500 meter short track speed-skating final in the Vancouver Winter Olympics until the judges disqualified him. As Ohno tried to pass Francois-Louis Tremblay of Canada on the final turn, he put his hand on Tremblay's hip; an instant later Tremblay wiped out. It didn't appear that Ohno pushed him and experts are divided as to whether he should have been disqualified as touching and jostling are part of the sport.
Ohno himself said he did not understand why he was disqualified. In fact, he felt the Canadian officials on Canadian soil figured into the decision as the Canadian Tremblay was awarded the bronze medal while his teammate Charles Hamelin won the gold.
Add to the mix the South Korean women's relay team; they were disqualified in the 3,000 meter race after they thought they had won gold. The referee who made the call was removed from his post for safety reasons as death threats against him were taken seriously. The call in that race generated much controversy and it too could have gone either way. It's been suggested the call on Ohno was an attempt to appear consistently strict.
Short track is filled with drama, unexpected turns of events, and much subjectivity when certain calls are made. Of course, we can't judge a referee's motive. We don't know all of the factors that did or did not go into the decision Friday night. Simply put, to some it didn't seem fair.
Two Big Reasons
However, we do know why Ohno was disqualified. We live in a world where things that aren't fair happen all the time. You yourself have been treated unfairly. It may be that someone got a promotion you deserved. I met a man yesterday who had his car stolen the previous night. Before that, I had been at the hospital all night sitting with another woman and her family; her forty-something husband had a massive heart-attack and died four hours later. Life is not fair.
The Bible tells us that life is not fair and we can't count on things like riches, health, unbiased judges, perfect conditions, a stable economy, or anything in this world really. Sin has affected every one of us and the entire creation has been subjected to futility (Rom. 8:20). You can skate a perfect race and get disqualified or maintain the healthiest diet possible and still get cancer.
But there's more; and this is the good part. God allows these things to happen so that we will look to Him (Job 37:7). He wants to make Himself known to us and show us that true satisfaction and fulfillment come in knowing Him because He is better than anything this life has to offer whether cancer or a gold medal. God wants Apolo Ohno to find pleasure in Him. He wants you to do the same.
You can't count on life being fair. But, you can count on God. Yes, the world has been subjected to futility but it's been subjected in hope. God has provided a Savior for us and the creation: Christ. Those who know Him will not only be saved but vindicated. All the wrongs done to you will be made right. All the wrongs in the whole world will be made right and the truth will be known. Cancer, earthquakes, financial calamity, and all things evil will be taken away. Tears will be wiped from every eye of those who know the Lord (Rev. 21:4).
Oh, and think about this: if you know Christ, those things that you have done to God and others that were not fair will be forgotten (Jer. 31:34). Imagine.
You need to teach your children that life is not fair. Things just happen; but make no mistake; they happen for a good purpose (Jas. 1:2-12). Let them know that life is filled with hurts of all kinds. But the final judge is not a man with a biased opinion who doesn't know the truth. The final judge knows all and sees all and will count all those in Christ as righteous. Look to Christ and point your children to Him. Ohno was competing for an earthly medal but you want a heavenly one (1 Cor. 9:25). You can receive it by committing everything you are by faith to Christ. He is the true treasure that brings everlasting joy.
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He hosted a live, call-in radio broadcast for five years. You can access archives by logging onto www.callingfortruth.org. You can also sign up for "The Dean's List," a free news and Christian worldview e-letter. Check out his new book, Disciple Like Jesus for Parents. To schedule Dr. Dean to speak, simply e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.