Des Moines, Iowa — Sometimes it takes a controversy that taints an outcome and creates a suspicion that seedy gamesmanship has been rewarded at the expense of good sportsmanship for a rule to get changed in sports.
The time has come for the NCAA to change a track and field rule and call it the Andrea Geubelle Amendment.
Watching Geubelle, the Kansas University junior, go from the happiest athlete in Drake Stadium during the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field national championship meet Saturday to the saddest in a span of 30 minutes served as another reminder that before using technology to replace a human being, all potential implications must be considered.
NCAA track and field rules allow up to 30 minutes after the completion of an event to file an appeal on the outcome. Southern Miss coach Kevin Stephen took advantage of the rule, and after Geubelle, who won the NCAA Indoor triple-jump championship, won the outdoor national championship, protested that she had fouled.
After reviewing the tape, a three-judge panel upheld the appeal and awarded the national title to runner-up Gann Demydova of Southern Miss. Geubelle was bumped to third. Here’s the problem: Had Geubelle known she had fouled, she would have been more careful not to risk fouling on her final two jumps and very well could have won the event.
If meet officials can’t figure out a way to review fouls instantly, then don’t review them at all, because to wait until after the event is to compromise it badly.
It became evident Geubelle will turn this into a positive.
“Right now, it just hurts more than anything,” Geubelle said just before boarding the team bus back to Lawrence. “... There was some bitterness about me winning, and rules are rules. If I fouled, I fouled. The thing that breaks my heart the most is, I jumped the farthest out there today, no matter what.”
Next on her agenda: the Olympic trials June 21-July 1 in Eugene, Ore.
“I’m going to go out swinging at the trials,” said Geubelle, who is smaller than most and not as fast as many she routinely beats. “I would think that people should probably be a little more afraid because I’m (ticked) as I ever could be right now. ... I don’t think I’ve ever gone into a meet (ticked) off, but I can’t imagine it will hurt me.”
Geubelle’s smile lights up a room, but behind it burns an intensely competitive young woman.
“I will compete until the day I die,” she said. “Whatever it takes to get to the Games, I will do that this year. ... This isn’t my last year. I’ll come out next year, too. I would much rather be called out during introductions as the American record holder and an Olympian than as the national champion.”