The Crime Against Nancy Kerrigan

January 08, 1994

The U.S. Figure Skating Association must put Nancy Kerrigan on the U.S. team at the Olympics in Norway next month if she is able to skate. Otherwise, the man who attacked her in Detroit on Thursday would be rewarded, and other athletes put at greater risk. Ms. Kerrigan was favored to retain her U.S. championship in Detroit, and one of two spots on the team, before the criminal, terrorist or lunatic assaulted her by hitting her right knee with a blunt instrument.

Last April 30, Guenter Parche stabbed the No. 1 woman tennis player, Monica Seles, on court in Hamburg, Germany. He hoped that his idol, Steffi Graf, would regain her position as the world's best. He was rewarded. Ms. Seles has not played since. Ms. Graf is No. 1. Parche walks the streets free. He served five and a half months in jail awaiting trial, and was then given a suspended two-year sentence -- by a German judge dealing with a German defendant and a Hungarian-Serbian-American victim.

The attack knocked Ms. Kerrigan out of competition yesterday. The rules bar a skater from competing on the U.S. team without having placed first or second in the national championships. But the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Figure Skating Association have discretionary powers to alter that. Putting her in the Olympics would penalize the innocent second-place finisher in Detroit. But that skater would not have expected silver had Ms. Kerrigan competed.

Hamburg District Judge Elke Bosse has some indirect responsibility for the attack on Ms. Kerrigan. In this global village of copycat crimes, the Detroit attacker almost certainly was encouraged that Parche got away with it in Hamburg.

World tennis knew no way to deny Ms. Graf her eight tournament victories after Ms. Seles was wounded. Ms. Graf is No. 1 for 1993, but with a moral asterisk indelibly against her name. Without Guenter Parche's crime, she would not have been. This will also be true for the U.S. Figure Skating Championship. But it need not be true of the U.S. Olympic team.

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