Sometimes it doesn't pay to be nice. Sometimes nice guys do finish last. Consider the following incident.
It was the 3,000-meter race in the Portland, Ore. high school track finals last spring. Sixteen runners were entered in the race; the first two finishers would qualify for the state finals the next weekend in Eugene. The favorite was Donnie McGovern, a senior from Grant High. He had finished fifth in the state as a junior. His coach described him as a competitive tiger.
Coming into the last 300 meters of the race, McGovern was stride-for-stride with David Kays, a senior from Franklin High. They were 40 meters ahead of the rest of the pack and shoe-ins for the state finals.
For Kays, a trip to Eugene was going to be somewhat of a surprise. He had struggled during the season, missing several meets because of illness and conflicting obligations to drama and band. He was running the fastest race of his life.
Heading into the last turn, McGovern looked over at Kays. The two boys had been competing against each other for four years, and had developed a friendly rivalry. McGovern felt sure that if he kicked it into high gear, he could smoke his opponent down the homestretch.
"Do you want to tie?" he asked Kays.
"Sure," replied Kays. It seemed to him like a fair thing to do. They were both going to qualify, regardless of who won, so there didn't have to be a winner.
"Let's do it," McGovern said, holding out his hand. The two boys clasped hands and ran down the last part of the straightaway, arms raised triumphantly overhead. They crossed the finish line dead even. The crowd cheered.
But faster than they could say hello, Eugene, a meet official came over to tell them, "You are both disqualified."
Section 5, Article 6, Part D of the 1982 track and field rule book of the National Federation of State High School Associations deals with disqualification. It states, "It is an unfair act when: (D) Contestants join hands or grasp each other at any time during a race."