Was This Cross-Country Runner Unfairly Disqualified For Helping An Opponent?

We’ve seen this happen a few times in the track and field domain. Runner sees opponent or teammate struggling to the finish line, helps them to the end, and yada, yada, yada, the Good Samaritan is rewarded with a disqualification. It sucks, yes, but it’s not all that surprising or new.

At a district cross-country championship in Iowa, Zach Hougland saw another runner fall down. In his own words, the kid was “like dying and what not, and he’s about ready to fall.” Let’s ignore for a second that this may have been some kind of medical emergency and the kid may have been seriously injured. Anyway, Hougland assisted the runner for only a handful of meters and finished the race on top. He won and everyone was happy and nope. Here’s come the DQ from those friendly faces at the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

Something about rules:

“An athlete who receives or gives assistance to another runner in the same race is disqualified. While it was a sportsmanlike act to help someone in distress it remained a violation and the official had no choice but to enforce the rule.”

If this was a teammate, I think I would understand. But I’m not sure what he’s gaining by helping an opponent. This, of course assumes Zach Hougland isn’t Vince McMahon and is the organizer of some vast WWE-esque conspiracy to aid runners during fake injuries. Yeah, let’s go ahead and say it’s not that.

So why the DQ?

In short, sports and competition has made us all very stupid. There’s really no other explanation. We’re asking a kid who just ran like 10 miles to make a split-second decision and not help someone writhing on the ground in pain. I don’t know about you, but I can’t run from here to there and make wise decisions. I’m lucky if I get to my destination in one piece.

Anyway, yeah, sports are dumb and so too is the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

Be better everyone.