Is It Wrong And If So Why?
I read this story with much interest; the Olympics kicked out eight players from different teams for trying to lose their matches. Here is the reason given for their actions:
The players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were accused of playing to lose in order to face easier opponents in future matches, drawing boos from spectators and warnings from match officials Tuesday night.
In the video the commentator, who is not an Olympic official and looks silly holding a badminton racket, said that what makes it wrong is that you are supposed to play to win in the Olympics. In the story an apparent spectator says that it is not in the “spirit” of Olympics. But what I have yet to see is that it is against the rules in the Olympics.
Let me give you my thoughts with the caveat that I freely admit ignorance regarding Olympic rules for badminton (how many of you knew there were two n’s in that word?) and so everything I say may be incorrect. However, unless it expressly states that you cannot throw a match for the purposes of maneuvering yourself into a more advantageous position for later matches I have no problem with it at all. Shocked? Dismayed? Have your knees given out underneath you as you swoon onto the couch? Bummer.
Watch any of the track races. Each one of the top runners does not run as hard as they can in the first races. These are merely to get the top runners selected and so it is carefully run and if you don’t win, you don’t care. The goal is not to win every race; rather then goal is the win THE race. You know, the one that determines who gets the gold medal. If a runner puts forth his maximum effort to win every race then he or she will be too tired to win the one that counts.
Think boxing. Three rounds are what you must do. It is by points or knockout and either way wins. You fight a superior match for the first two rounds and are obviously ahead in points. This is only one match of many ahead of you so you throw the final round. That is not what it is called but that is what you do. You play defense, you avoid the knockout punch. You clinch a lot to drag out the time and you lose that final round but win the match. Smart boxing is what that is called. On to the next match and possible a repeat performances.
If a badminton team looked at the teams against whom they had to compete and realized that if they lost the first one it would put them in an advantageous position for a medal, why not? What is the difference between that and a track race or a boxing match? I don’t see one. The goal in the Olympics is not to win ever match (unless the rules say otherwise) but to try to win a medal. That is what these teams were doing.