There’s talk that the Olympics, held alternating two years between winter and summer, are the epitome of sport, the highest echelon of sport in both skill and conduct. Yeah, well, so much for that.
As of this week, we’ve got some serious issues to discuss in, of all places, women’s badmitten.
Yeah, badmitten, dudes. Badmitten. That sport with the long rackets and the little plastic ball attached to a plastic feathering to make it hang in the air. The little ball thingy is called a birdie or a shuttlecock or something like that. Really. Too lazy to look it up so you know that’s pretty lazy. You’ve probably only seen it in movies about old-time rich dudes in their backyard parties. Or played it when you were really young. Hardly anyone plays it now.
Which doesn’t mean it’s not taken seriously.
In the final competitions of the group round, which determines the seeding for the single-elimination finals round, three teams were accused of trying to throw a game to get a better seeding. A late-breaking bit of good news: Those three teams were sent home for trying to deliberately throw the game.
China and Indonesia have one team involved, along with two from South Korea. The way it worked out was that all four teams were trying to lose so they wouldn’t play a very good China team during the first game of the medal round. All eight ladies on those four teams were sent home.
These teams played like nobody wanted to win. There were serves straight into the net. Often. Horrible misses. Just bloody obvious play showing the teams were throwing the games.
When I think about this, I’m saddened but not surprised. I’m sad that it’s come to this, when the Olympics really are supposed to be the last bastion of pure sport. We know that’s not the case, witness professional basketball players bulking up the teams for every country playing the sport. Still, there was hope that the smaller sports might actually have some integrity left.
I mean, what’s the point of watching synchronized diving if we’re not watching it for the pure, unadulterated joy of watching a bunch of folks compete at a goofy sport that is totally made up just for the heck of it? Seeing people bring the non-ethics of cheating into the whole thing, looking for a better seeding rather than playing who’s in front of you so you play and beat the best. . .
That’s just sad.
But, again, not surprising. It’s the inevitable endpoint of the 24-hour news cycle, where every person who stands out can become famous, at least for a little while, and can leverage that fame into money and prestige. That’s a lot riding on the swing of a raquet.
Now, even when the players hit it over the net, it might as well be a miss as far as the spectators are concerned.