Give back the gold, Paul

American gymnast Paul Hamm should give back the gold medal he was wrongly awarded in Athens for the all-around competition. The judges screwed up and cost Kim Dae-eun of South Korea the medal that he rightfully deserved. Hamm’s total score was factored using the wrong base score.

Never mind that NBC went back and dissected his performance, pointing out how judges should have taken away points for too many handstands on the parallel bars. That’s the subjective part of the sport, and any routine could be picked apart if viewed often enough on slow-mo. It’s like an umpire’s call—it can’t be overturned because it’s part of the game.

But in this case, keeping with the baseball analogy, it’s as if the scoreboard was faulty, allowing Hamm to start the game with a three-run lead and then win by a single run.

The Americans say the South Korean team did not protest the mistake within the time allowed. So what? Hamm says he deserves the medal. But he doesn’t deserve it; he simply has it in his possession and refuses to give it back. Where’s the honor in keeping a tainted gold medal? And how many medals does he need? How many medals does the U.S. need?

Hamm could buy himself, and this country, a much-needed helping of respect and goodwill by taking the high road and giving Dae-eun the medal. Wouldn’t that be refreshing in this age of cynicism and selfishness?