It’s easy to get tunnel vision during competition. When you’re challenging yourself to do something difficult, pushing yourself to your limits while also pitting yourself against other competitors, friendliness can be the last thing on your mind.
But one young man from Penn High School in Indiana has demonstrated that his priorities are with his fellow man rather than beating the clock.
Forfeiting his position, Boardley darted to the side and hauled Khan up, a move that was caught on video and started getting passed around on Twitter.
“I have no idea who these two high school runners were, but great sportsmanship by one of the boys to help a fellow competitor who was struggling to finish,” WTHI-TV Sports Director Rick Semmler tweeted.
I have no idea who these two high school runners were, but great sportsmanship by one of the boys to help a fellow competitor who was struggling to finish. pic.twitter.com/cx90k85fHc
— Rick Semmler (@Rick_Sports10) October 31, 2020
Boardley and Khan weren’t in their respective teams’ top fives, and finished 189th (Boardley) and 193rd (Khan) out of the 207 at the meet. In most viewers’ books, though, Boardley was a winner.
“Hats off to our very own Penn Cross Country runner Ben Boardley showing what it means to be a true Kingsmen & Sportsman!” the Penn High School Facebook page shared. “Now this is #PHMExcellence.”
“Penn’s Ben Boardley may have finished 189th at State, but he finished #1 in our book,” The Pennant @ Penn High School added.
Boardley didn’t realize he could have been disqualified for his friendly actions, but based on Rule 4-6-5 from the National Federation of State High School Associations, an Indiana High School Athletic Association official ruled that there should be no DQ.
“A competitor who provides assistance to an injured or ill competitor should not be disqualified if neither the individual competitor providing the assistance nor his/her team gains an advantage as a result of providing the assistance,” the rule reads.
“I just kind of saw it and did it,” Boardley said to the Star. “I guess that’s how my parents raised me. They taught me to treat others how I’d want to be treated, and to be helpful when I can.”
“Because I knew if that was me, I wanted to make sure I’d finish at state.”
Khan said his seasonal allergies were bothering him, and he had been having trouble breathing and pain in his thighs and back, which caused him to fall several times throughout the race.
Khan was given medical attention on-site and was finally able to stand again an hour after the race.
“I told him, ‘Go finish. I can’t,'” Khan said. “At the end of the race, that’s when your true priorities show. I know what Ben’s priorities are. And what his true character is like.”
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