Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Whybark Debate

Yesterday afternoon I wrote up a story for Yahoo! that you have probably heard all about at this point. A college kid let another college kid win a playoff so he could advance to nationals, intentionally hitting his tee ball out of bounds on the first playoff hole so the other guy would make it.

To give you a better buffer on what happened. A kid named Grant Whybark played for the University of St. Francis, and his team had won the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship to advance to the NAIA Championship. If your team wins that tournament, everyone advances. But Grant wasn't done, because the sophomore had also tied for the individual trophy. He was going up against Olivet Nazarene's Seth Doran, a senior. If Whybark won the playoff, Doran wouldn't have advanced. If he lost it, both advance.

Whybark then hit his tee shot 40 yards out of bounds on purpose so Doran would have a chance to make it one more tournament. I wrote yesterday about how the act was something we never see in sports, a person putting his competitiveness away for a moment in place of humanitarianism. He basically felt like the other kid deserved to advance, and took matters into his own hands.

When I wrote the story I felt like it might get some traction, but I never thought it would blow up the way it did. People are very heated one way or the other. It was so big, that "Mike and Mike in the Morning" actually quoted me from the article (the debate starts at the 10:17 mark of this link, but you have to be an Insider) , vehemently disagreeing with my take because they felt it was a slap in the face to Doran.

What I feel is being missed here is that it wasn't disrespectful. Mike and Mike, and whoever else is on that side of the argument, think that by doing this, it was somehow putting Doran down. That wasn't Whybark's motives. He was doing this simply to give a guy he thought deserved a shot at nationals a chance to go. People argue that he could have been more subtle, but are they even golfers? What if Whybark holes out on accident, or hits it two feet? Is he supposed to just keep putting around until Doran holes out? Is that more respectful?

What Whybark did should be praised. He was a friend first, opponent second, and made a gesture most of us would never think to do. With all the crazy shit that goes on in this world daily (and I'm looking at you, LT), why would anyone get mad at this guy?


Brett said...

You're right about lack of understanding. Mike Golic spent his entire "athletic" career trying to gnaw the arm off his opponent. He doesn't understand the subtleties of what was going on in this situation (frankly, i don't either).

But I can still see that there is a bigger principle in this case. Everyone acts like the gesture was done out of "pity." Nothing of the sort. It was out of respect. I think what bothers people the most, and it's likely entirely subconscious, is that he did it on the "first" shot. He essentially waved the white flag, so to speak, on shot one. Would it have been better/worse/different/whatever if he had "played out the hole," and had the other kid "win" on his own, or as you mentioned, keep putting and missing on purpose just to make sure he is one stroke behind by the time it's over. I don't think so. He followed his first instinct, which was to take the pressure off his opponent by making it clear, "look bud, you're going to win this, so just play it cool." People forget that 40 yard shank or not, he still could have won the hole! The other kid still had to produce. Still had to hit it straight. Still had to get up and down. So this was not, as people want us to believe, a case of airballing a free throw on purpose, or Favre laying down for Strahan. It was a nice gesture that had NOTHING to do with the championship. It had entirely to do with playing another round at the next level...

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

Mike Golic pontificating is hilarious. The guy is a steroid user, but somehow has become a moral compass according to the worldwide leader. The fact that they employ he and Doug Gottleib with their questionable pasts is bad enough, but to have them get on the radio and tell us what is right and wrong in sports is insulting. I totally agree that this was a sign of respect. It isn't like they were best buddies pulling one over on the rest of the world. They were friends due to their total respect for each other as competitors and the kid did what he thought was right. Good for him and shame on those making a big deal about an event that they didn't care about in the first place. Golic needs to stop talking just to hear himself talk and think about things before forming an opinion.