Simon on Luck and Desert in Sport: A Review and Some Comments
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Artikler / Articles 
Original versionJournal of the Philosophy of Sport. 2016, 43, 15-25 10.1080/00948705.2015.1119048
During the 1000-meter short track speed skating event of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games, a series of extraordinary situations arose.1 The Australian skater Steven Bradbury won what is perhaps the most unexpected gold medal in Olympic history. In the quarterfinal, Bradbury finished third. However, as number two Canadian favorite Marc Gagnon was disqualified for having obstructed another skater, Bradbury proceeded to the semifinal. Here, he skated defensively to exploit possibilities if faster skaters collided and fell. As three of his competitors fell, Bradbury came in second and proceeded to the final. History repeated itself. In the last round, with Bradbury lagging 15 meters behind, all four competitors crashed and fell. Bradbury passed the finishing line as the winner and became the first Winter Olympic champion of the Southern Hemisphere. The story of Steven Bradbury raises many questions. To some, he became a cult figure and an example of the significance of never giving in and of the possibilities of the underdog. Others criticized the competition and argued that it failed, as ‘the best skater’ did not win. A third, more systematic perspective implied a discussion of the very setup and rules of short-track speed skating and the role of chance and luck vs. merit and desert. Clearly, competitions with improbable outcomes challenge our ideas of the meaning and value of sport.