Meet 17-year-old Zachary Hougland, an Iowa cross country runner who just learned that no good deed goes unpunished.
Zach won his first district championship last week and was headed to the state meet. But after he crossed the finish line, he saw a runner from a rival team, Garret Hinson, crawling on the ground.
Zach told reporters that he “just couldn’t stand seeing that,” and that he helped Garret get back on his feet so he could finish the race. Aaaand they were both immediately disqualified. (Luckily, Zach’s team still qualified for the state meet, so he still gets to compete, even though he lost his individual title.)
Turns out there’s a nationwide law in cross-country that you can’t help someone from an opposing team finish, because it’s not fair to other runners who might have otherwise passed the struggling athlete and won more points for their team. Which, in the abstract, seems reasonable – but in this case, looks pretty terrible.
What do you think? Should the officials have suspended the rule?