First, there was the NBA with referees who were gambling on games. Then, there was the whole Penn State mess. Now, in a revelation that is certain to shatter irrevocably your faith in sports, it turns out that international badminton is rigged. From USA Today:
The Badminton World Federation confirms it has disqualified eight female badminton players from China, South Korea and Indonesia from the Olympics doubles competition for trying to lose matches to receive a more favorable draw. The federation found the players guilty of “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” in matches Tuesday night.
Players were roundly booed after they appeared not to exert themselves in preliminary rounds of the round-robin tournament before they were set to move on to elimination competition.
To me, this begs the obvious question: How exactly do you tell when a badminton player is “not using one’s best efforts to win a match?” Let’s face it, badminton is just some people chasing around what appears to be a miniature laundry basket with a helmet, and they are beating it with a flyswatter.
In other words, I’m not even sure how you fix a sport which is so patently ridiculous. Corked shuttlecocks? Oversize fly-swatters?
But wait…it gets better….
The Indonesian pair and both Korean pairs have appealed the decision. The badminton federation will hold a press conference later Tuesday following the final decision.
The eliminated players are world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yan of China and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, along with South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii.
The doubles pairs were all due to compete in quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon.
IOC Vice President Craig Reedie, the former head of the international badminton federation, welcomed the decision.
“Sport is competitive,” Reedie told The Associated Press. “If you lose the competitive element, then the whole thing becomes a nonsense. You cannot allow a player to abuse the tournament like that, and not take firm action. So good on them.”
Nonsense? Let me see if I have this straight…by fixing a nonsense sport which nobody can tell if its fixed or not, it all becomes nonsense? Confusing, but whatever…
China’s Lin Dan, the No. 2-ranked men’s singles player, said through an interpreter the sport is going to be damaged.
“Especially for the audience,” he said before the disqualifications were announced. “This is definitely not within the Olympic spirit. But like I said before, it’s not one-sided. Whoever sets the rule should make it knockout so whoever doesn’t try will just leave the Olympics.”
Uhhh, to which audience is he referring? If he’s talking about the 17 people who were in the building when this happened, I’m not sure even they understood what was going on. As I understand it, in last night’s match featuring Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yan of China against Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na of South Korea, the Chinese appeared to deliberately serve into the net, triggering a warning from the referee. This led to the badminton federation examining whether the Chinese players sought to throw the match so they would not have to meet another Chinese pair in the next round. Worse yet, it seems it happened again later the same night when another South Korean pair and their Indonesian opponents were doing the exact same thing.
In any event, there’s an easy solution to this. If you want to stop team from tanking games to get a better draw, just use a lottery. There’s no better way to fix a rigged sport than with a rigged lottery. Just ask David Stern.