Sunday, January 15, 2017

Lose Lose (from RadioLab)

I'm a regular listener of RadioLab and referenced a previous episode of theirs called "On the Edge" in Pop Culture Roundup post. They are back at it again and have inspired me to revisit this blog even as we are in a lull between Games. I'm as excited as ever to look forward to the Tokyo 2020 Games...is it too soon to buy my plane ticket? :)


This RadioLab episode, "Lose Lose," discusses the historic match between China and Korea in London 2012 that resulted in eight players being thrown out of the Games for what is essentially "unsportsmanlike conduct" in Badminton. Both teams were trying to purposely throw the match so that they would not have to play the next team in the lineup, while still holding their medal positions. The episode gives a full account of what happened, so I highly recommend you give it a listen.

This match brings to light a number of interesting questions. Many sports have practices that could be thought of in the same way- any pitcher who has walked a player to first base or team that has sat out a good player on purpose in preparation for future games knows this is true. However, this seems to be out of sync with the principles of "Olympism" in which players promise to play the game fairly using their "best efforts." I know very little about the rules of Badminton but have watched and read enough about the Olympics to say that I agree with the ruling on these players that resulted from this match.

What do you think? What sort of other situations in sports have you heard about that toe the line of fairness in sport? Are we headed to more difficult rulings as humans continue to evolve to be more and more physically capable?

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