Good sportsmanship was on full display at the 2019 World Sport Stacking Championships last weekend and I want to tell you about something I witnessed firsthand that made me proud of our athletes.
StackOut is an Opening Ceremonies event where each country sends one male and one female stacker onto the big stage to compete head to head against the best stackers from all the other countries. Stackers stack the Cycle against multiple competitors at the same time and the slowest stacker of each race leaves the stage. The races continue until there are only two stackers left and then they race best two out of three against each other. It’s a nerve racking event because one fumble can take you out and there were 21 countries competing at this year’s Worlds.
This year’s male race came down to two of the world’s fastest stackers, William Polly and Hyeon Jong Choi . Polly took the first race so Choi had to win the second race to stay in the competition. When both stackers finished their second race, Choi had the fastest time and the crowd went crazy. Both judges showed green cards but rather then celebrate his win, Choi leaned over to his judge and told him, “no, I scratched”. I happened to be right in front of him when this happened and those three words brought tears to my eyes. He could have had another chance to win the big StackOut trophy but instead, he did what he knew was right and disqualified himself by calling out his own mistake. As Choi left the stage, I watched as coaches and stackers told him how much they admired what he did. I shook his hand and told him the same thing.
Yes, our stackers are amazingly fast, but more importantly, they are learning that doing the right thing (even when you don’t have to) feels so much better than winning a trophy. Choi lost StackOut that night but he won the respect of everyone in the room and in doing so, demonstrated the best of what our sport stands for – integrity. Well done Mr. Choi.