Did Eight Badminton Players Deserve To Be Banned From The 2012 Summer Olympics For “Throwing Matches” Earlier This Week?
Let me preface this post by saying that I am not an expert in badminton. Everything I’ve learned about the sport, I’ve learned at backyard barbecues and on the beach—the two places that I’ve actually played badminton. But, I’ve never watched it, never thought about watching it, and, after what just happened to eight Olympians, I don’t plan on watching it anytime soon, if ever.
In case you’ve been out of the loop this week or, you know, you’re like me and you really just don’t give a you-know-what about badminton, here’s what you need to know about the scandal involving the sport at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Earlier this week, eight Olympians—including players from China, South Korea, and Indonesia—were banned from the Olympics for “throwing matches” in order to gain more favorable seeds in the elimination round of the Olympic badminton tournament. Despite the fact that some of the teams would have earned less favorable slots by winning, the IOC and the Badminton World Federation instituted the ban because they feel as though throwing matches during the Olympics strikes at the very core of what the Olympics are all about. The BWF also made a point to say that they feel that what these Olympians did really hurts the sport.
“We have to be clear,” a spokesman for the BWF said, “there has been a problem here and we have to take that problem very seriously. There are things we can improve on and look at after this competition.”
You can say that again. And, you should start with this: Overthrowing whatever system you have in place that actually rewards badminton teams for losing! You see, I’m fine with the Olympics committee chastising these players for their behavior. I’m fine with them being booed during competition by the fans. I’m even fine with the BWF releasing statements speaking out against “throwing matches.” I sort of see their point—losing on purpose does hurt badminton and the Olympics in general. But, the IOC and BWF also have to understand that they’ve allowed a faulty system to be put into place. They’ve allowed it to become detrimental for some teams to win. And now, they’re punishing the players for doing what’s best for their chances moving forward. And, that hurts the image of badminton and the Olympics more than what the players did.
If they don’t want players to throw matches, how about improving upon the current format of badminton play? How about making it so that players are rewarded for winning, not placed into unfavorable matchups? How about tweaking the system instead of dishing out punishments? This whole thing has become embarrassing for both players and the Olympics—and it’s not really the players’ fault.
Like I said, I’m no badminton expert. But, I know the difference between right and wrong. And, banning Olympians from the Olympics because they tried to do whatever they could to improve their chances of getting a medal just seems wrong. You don’t have to be an expert to realize that.