The 2012 London Olympics Badminton Scandal

Badminton scandal at the Olympics

I didn’t even realize badminton was an Olympic sport. Just those two words “Olympics” and “Badminton” next to each other caught my eye in the newspaper. Then you add the word “scandal” and suddenly I have to read this to find out what’s going on.

No, I’m not a big Olympic watcher. Honestly, if James Bond and Mr. Bean didn’t show up at the opening of this thing I wouldn’t have had any interest in what was going on. Once those guys split…so did I.

But this badminton thing was interesting to me. First, like I said I didn’t know it was categorized as an Olympic sport and they gave out medals for it. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. It seems like the term ‘sport’ has pretty much encompassed any kind of activity where there is a winner and loser.

Nowadays playing ping pong, eating hot dogs and simply lifting heavy tires are sports and these folks call themselves athletes. I don’t know when this all happened. I can’t imagine how anyone can look down at bowlers today. That game has been around for awhile and they’ve played for trophies a lot longer than all these newer ‘sports’.

I love hearing all the questions that have been lobbed at the Olympic committee about the inclusion of badminton into the games. It debuted in 1992 and quite frankly I figure – why not?

Badminton scandal at the Olympics

Badminton is considered a very serious British sport, but from my point of view I think of it as one of those games that everyone plays in their backyards or while hanging out at the beach. I look at it as more of a past time game or activity.

But honestly, I would rather watch badminton games than swimming or running. I’ve never been that excited watching a sport where the winner is determined by mili-seconds. It’s just kind of boring to me. If it weren’t for those cool Olympic clocks showing me ‘oh this guy beat that guy by 1/30th of a second’ I would have thought a lot of those competitions were just ties.

Badminton at least have scores that you can keep track with your fingers. There’s a clear winner and loser. I would take more pride in getting a gold medal for a game where everyone didn’t need an slo-mo instant replay that I kicked the other guy or teams ass.

Probably my favorite Olympic sport to watch is curling. It’s a very strange game and yes I know it’s very popular in other countries, but here in the U.S. it’s viewed as a pretty oddball sport. That one has gotten flak for being included in the winter games, but I love watching it! They could ditch all the ice skating and skiing, just do curling games and I would tune into the winter games the entire time.

Olympic scandal badminton

Back to this badminton thing. So four pairs of badminton players were disqualified from the Olympics for tanking games apparently for the sole reason to face easier competition during the later elimination rounds. They were sent packing with the International Olympic Committee saying they ‘violated the Olympic spirit of fair play and sportsmanship’. The Badminton World Federation said the players were punished for “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”.

I didn’t hear anyone say these players cheated though.

This is where the debate inevitably will lie with everyone. For me, this has gotten way overblown. The fact that the players were adhering to the Olympic rules of round robin play or whatever they call it, and formulated a strategy to get closer to that heavenly gold medal everyone seems to want, they decided to lose on purpose.

Ok. So what?

This “scandal” that they didn’t use their best efforts to win the matches is kind ridiculous. They weren’t just trying to win ‘a match’, but the whole thing! They had their sights set on the gold, which everyone else playing at these Olympics are doing. If they were going to intentionally lose games in order to help their chances, without breaking any of the Olympic rules by the way, what’s the big deal? I bet other players were thinking afterwards – ‘gee, we should have done that’.

The idea that you have to give it your all the entire time is great for a t-shirt and a logo, but maybe it doesn’t make sense. Baseball pitchers intentionally walk a strong hitter to get to a weaker one all the time. No one goes crazy about that. Strategy. Or maybe that’s just not allowed at the Olympics. You have to play your hardest every minute, don’t think ahead and be happy standing off to the side when they award medals to everyone but you. At least you did your best.

I wonder if there would have been this much fallout had the players been a little more subtle in throwing the matches and not have made it look as intentional as they did. And what kind of competition makes losing a benefit to ultimately win the whole thing anyway??? I thought the straight forward points scored system would eliminate any kind of confusion.

There’s never been any controversy when I play badminton with my friends. I’m not familiar with the rules the Olympics have with these badminton games, but maybe they should rethink them a bit. They’ve only had badminton there since ’92, so it’s still early enough to do some tweaking there. Maybe they should just have winners determined by milli-seconds…..

This really doesn’t bother me that much. Like I said, after 007 left the Olympics so did I. I’m not curious how my country does at the games or am interested in looking at the giant flag board to see which country has the most medals and which one couldn’t get a one, but this badminton story caught my attention. I just thought it was pretty humorous and have enjoyed hearing people carry on about it.

At least I know badminton is an Olympic sport now…..

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