Thursday, 2 August 2012

Playing the Game

I've been thinking quite a bit about the Olympic badminton fiasco.  You heard about this, right?  In case you haven't, this is the story about eight badminton players being disqualified from the competition for "not using one's best efforts to win".  I didn't watch the matches, but essentially these players were deliberately playing badly so that they would lose their doubles match and therefore get an easier draw in the next round, easing their way through to the final.  I agree wholeheartedly with the disqualification because the actions of these players have annoyed and upset me considerably.  This is why.

We talk about athletes across all sports and disciplines "representing their countries".  For many people this is quite an abstract concept, but for me, it feels much more real.  I believe that these athletes, their effort and endeavour, truely represent the people of the country that they are competing for.  They are our finest, our best and they are competing on behalf of each and every single one of us.  Why else do we get so much joy and excitement from their success?  Why else do we feel so deflated when they do not perform as well as they and we had hoped?

In contrast to the attitude we saw from the badminton players, earlier this week we had the British men's rowing eight competing at Dorney, aiming to win the gold medal.  They gave it everything they had, went out like the clappers and risked going home with nothing as a result.  Thankfully they left with the bronze, making the nation proud in the process.  

So I guess my question is, who would you want representing you?  Who do you feel better represents you as a person, as a citizen of your nation?  The participants who seek to make their way through the competition by taking the easy option?  By choosing the path of least resistance?  Or those who hit the finish line leaving everything they have on the floor?  Those who strive for excellence?

I know my preference!  Bring on the British bulldog spirit - grab on and don't let go until the job is done.  Go Team GB!


  1. I am kind of with you... but one thing struck me today..
    If they consider their only goal to be win Gold, then maybe strategy is a line that's acceptable to explain their behaviour.
    For example.
    In the football, you win your first two games and qualify before having to play your third group match.

    The manager decides to rest his best players and play the subs in order to keep his best players fresh for the knockout stages.

    Isn't this basically the same thing?

    1. It's a complicated issue. But I strongly feel that it isn't just about winning gold, but also about how you play the game to get there.

      If the only goal is winning gold, then why don't we just let everyone take whatever dope they like and get to the finish line in a free for all.

      I do understand that strategy plays a part in sport. Deciding when to go for it and when to hold back. But deliberately attempting to lose a match is something else entirely.

  2. These people were supposed to be the best of the best to qualify for the Olympics, they have taken the opportunity away from other people to compete from their country they were disgusting in there actions. Their country men/women must be so ashamed of them.

    Come Team GB keep winning them Gold Medals