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The Badminton Eight

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Who knew?   The words “badminton” and “scandal” are not ordinarily associated with one another.

But they are now.  Eight female players are expected to be thrown out of the Olympic games for throwing matches in a crude attempt to rig the match-ups so they could get a favorable draw later in the tournament.  At least the 1919 Chicago White Sox were not quite so overt when corruption infiltrated baseball.  Shoeless Joe Jackson, after all, batted near .400 in that tainted World Series.  That was about money and mobsters.  This is all about better placement in a tourney. 

And maybe it wouldn’t even have been all that scandalous if the players had at least attempted a little subtlety. These ladies were so obvious about it that the spectators were booing and demanding refunds.  They obviously and purposely hit into the net.  At times they gave no effort whatsoever and stood idly by as shuttlecock after shuttlecock landed gently on the court, unanswered and ignored.  The umpires were motioning to the players to hit the damn thing. 

Deception has long been a part of the sport of badminton.  Professionals who play this, as opposed to you or I, are always trying to deceive the opponent in regard to how hard and in what direction they will hit the shuttle.  But this current form of deception, aimed at the larger audience of the sport, has hardly been sneaky at all- just clumsy.

I do not fear far-ranging consequences for the sport, however.  It’s not like their television revenues are suddenly going to plummet.  Or that Walmart’s sales of badminton equipment will suddenly suffer.

The only disconcerting part of all this is next time I play a game of Badminton, my own incompetence may be misconstrued for fixing the match.   No- that was my clumsiness that explains why the shuttlecock just hit me in the head or why I accidently smashed my partner with the racket.  

So in advance of our next match, let me loudly proclaim: I may suck at this sport but please don’t question my badminton integrity.

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