Olympics 2012 put the bad in badmiton

The Southerner

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This year’s 2012 London Olympics displayed athletes of the highest quality from all around the world. Records were broken and upsets were profuse. Athletes like Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, and Oscar Pistorius are names that will be honored and remembered by the world for years to come. The same can be said for the four women’s badminton teams that gained national attention, except they will be remembered for their negative actions, not their positives.

One of the biggest scandals of these Olympics was when eight women , the reigning world champions from China, two doubles teams from South Korea, and an Indonesian pair, were disqualified from the badminton tournament for blatantly attempting to lose their matches in order to manipulate whom they would face in the quarterfinals. Throwing games happens all the time in sports because it is a very logical strategy to use in order to win. Lose now so that you can win later. In this occurrence, the players were most likely just taking orders from their coaches. The lack of subtly was so great that the fans started booing and the referee was forced to stop the game and talk to the players.

The reason this whole thing started was basically because the Chinese did not want to finish at the top of their group so they could avoid playing the number two seeded team in the tournament. After this game, other teams caught on to what the Chinese were doing and the problem snowballed. The players’ actions were technically legal but they were disqualified by the Badminton World Federation with “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.” All of the players made such simple mistakes that anything less than a disqualification would have been a bigger scandal than their immense lack of effort in itself.

Although it was the athletes’ choices to deliberately lose, the round-robin/pool tournament is to blame for the problems in the competition. If the Olympic committee changed the tournament to a single knockout format, teams would give their all in every single game. The level of competitiveness in the Olympics is the highest there is, so it is very understandable that these teams would try to find the easiest way to win within the laws of the game. They didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs of any kind or infringe upon the rules of badminton; they simply found a loophole and exploited it. Obviously their tactics were shameful and immoral but being an athlete myself, I can understand why they did what they did. Sure it is unfair to win this way and if this play had been allowed through the entire tournament the winners would have been disgraced but winning is winning, no matter how it is achieved.

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