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Credit Where It's Probably Not Due

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Here is one of the odder articles I've read lately. Mark Starr, a reporter at the Everett, Washington Herald is essentially taking credit for Nancy Kerrigan making the 1994 Olympic team. Not joking on this one. Here is the excerpt:

And that is when — for the first and only time in my life — I stumbled into a small role in a story I was covering. I was wandering the bowels of Cobo Hall awaiting the decision when I bumped into USFSA President Claire Ferguson.

Ferguson was a charming lady with whom I had become friendly the previous year when we were seated together at a birthday party during the world championships in Prague. On this night, however, she appeared very distressed. She confided that the selection committee was stymied; there was no provision in the rules allowing it to select anyone who had not competed — regardless of the reason — in the national championship.

Figure-skating folks are more creatures of the rink than of the real world. They know all the jumps, spins and spirals, but can be remarkably unsophisticated about matters beyond the arena walls. I thought I should warn Ferguson what would happen if they penalized Kerrigan for her terrible misfortune — if they, in effect, blamed the victim. "You will be crucified in the media," I said. "And you will wind up looking like fools when you reverse yourselves. Go find yourself a rule and put Nancy on the team."

Soon after, the USFSA convened a press conference for its announcement. Flashing a big smile, Ferguson said the committee — in accordance with "the famous rule 5.05" — had awarded the second spot on the Olympic team to Nancy Kerrigan. I smiled too.

Er...as Aunt Joyce's Ice Cream Stand points out, Todd Eldredge was placed on the 1992 Olympic team two years earlier, despite not being able to compete at Nationals (according to this clip, his medal at the most recent worlds made him eligible for the team). According to this 1994 Sun Sentinel article which was written before the Olympic selection committee convened following the ladies final, rule 5.05 allows athletes who have not competed in the national championships to be placed on the Olympic team. (Kerrigan could not have been considered for a normal injury waiver because she had not medaled in the 1993 worlds.) The article further disproves Starr's claims that he influenced Ferguson because he states that he spoke with Ferguson after the ladies competition was over...but rule 5.05 was cited in the press BEFORE the ladies competition ended. So, obviously the committee was placing Kerrigan on that team before Starr's blessed intervention.

I am sure Starr is not lying and he very well may have talked to Ferguson in the hallway during selection time, but he cannot be serious by thinking that he had any influence on Nancy Kerrigan making the Olympic team (as if he were the first one to make Ferguson aware that the media might criticize the US Olympic Committee if Kerrigan were left off!). The assertion that he had anything to do with this situation is kind of a joke.