Lesson Plan: Ben Johnson - Innocent or Guilty?
This opportunity is best suited for senior students as the activity is based on the application of critical thinking skills. The primary source of information for this activity will be the CBC Digital Archives website. Students may wish to consult other websites that review the events of the 1988 Summer Olympic in Seoul, South Korea.
Using the information presented in the clips, along with information gathered from the internet and other traditional resources, students will write a one page editorial explaining whether Ben Johnson actively participated in the use of performance-enhancing drugs or was a pawn of his doctor and coaches to be manipulated for the benefit of their success and careers. The editorial will present an argument regarding Johnson's choices, and include a discussion of the events following the 1988 scandal.
While viewing the clips, students should make notes that will allow them to write their editorial. They should document clearly the information that they use.
After you have assessed each editorial, have three or four students read their work to the class. Allow for a debate to take place on whether or not Ben Johnson knew what was going on his is sporting life. Ben Johnson was the first high profile athlete to be stripped of his gold medal at an Olympics. According to documentation, it could have been another athlete from another country at any given time. Have we, as a society, made strides in honouring success in sports without performance-enhancing drugs or are we too obsessed with winning the gold?