Was it wrong for badminton teams to throw a game in pursuit of an Olympic medal?

The players kicked out of the Olympics by the Badminton World Federation for intentionally playing to lose were doing nothing that other players haven’t done, their defenders say. The doubles teams were trying to line themselves up to play less formidable opponents in later rounds. Today’s Question: Was it wrong for badminton teams to throw a game in pursuit of an Olympic medal?

  • suzie

    YES! Cheating is cheating is cheating. If you have to cheat to win (or pass a test), you are not as good as you want everyone else to think.

    Of course, if you come from a country that may kill you or send you and your family to a work camp, cheating may be the only way you survive.

  • Dewey Christensen

    Or one could say, is it wrong to hold back your best starting pitcher a day so he could face a team he’s had a better record against. Or sit Hank Aaron on the bench so he could hit #715 at home. Just exactly where is that line drawn?

    If the strategy is to win the gold medal, and the tactic is not illegal, it should be accepted. It’s merely a by-product of our “win at all costs” mentality.

    I’m more inclined to find fault with the governing body which introduced a format that encouraged such behavior. I say, suspend badminton from the Olympics until they can get their act together. Don’t take it out on the players.

  • Ann

    Don’t sports teams use many kinds of these strategies to win? I watched about a half hour of the Olympics. I can’t wait until they are over.

  • Dewey Christensen

    AND, if this is really about the edification of sport, why did the Olympic people decide NOT to refund the money to those who paid to attend that event? Yes, everybody’s about doing the right thing.

  • Jim G

    Yes. Gaming the rules is ever present and always unfair to those gamed. This is the case not only in badminton, but also in more important venues such as paying taxes: where those with the most pay the least percentage of their income in taxes.

  • GregX

    Nah … its fine. It’s sports, not some life or death business. We overdone the sports regulation thing. Quit taking it so seriously. In fact we should let them do whatever they want. Like we do with Banks and Corporations. Do OVER!

  • Rich

    It’s rules and the heavy hand of regulation that holds back the entrepreneurial spirit of these athletes. ;^)

  • Jefferson

    I’m sort of confused on this issue, if the pre-bracket play is supposed to set the seeds for a bracket there’s no way you would want to lose since the higher you are in the bracket the worse the team would be that you have to face off against in the actual tournament. If the playoff/bracket system is not set up so that the top seed plays the bottom seed then there is a flaw in the system. I guess either way you can’t really blame the players for doing what gives them the best chance to win a gold medal. Does anyone criticize swimmers for not trying their hardest during qualifying rounds because they’re saving their full ability for the medal race? To me it’s the same thing, the tournament should never give an advantage to a team that loses…if it does then the players are simply trying their best to win a gold medal. BTW, this is not cheating…it’s sort of like resting your star players in football in the weeks before playoffs…you’re simply resting your team because the games at the end of the season don’t impact your spot in the playoffs.

  • Mary

    Yes it was wrong of them. They know the rules and in the Olympics you do not break the rules. The rules may need to be changed but they still have to be followed. I understand the strategy of why they did it, but that doesn’t make it OK.

  • Jefferson

    Mary – [Yes it was wrong of them. They know the rules and in the Olympics you do not break the rules. The rules may need to be changed but they still have to be followed. I understand the strategy of why they did it, but that doesn’t make it OK.] *** Were you aware that the rules changed from 2008 to 2012..in 2008 they set up a single-elimination tournament. Now in 2012 every team gets 3 games and then goes into the elimination rounds…the problem is that these teams knew the team they would play based on the outcome of the 3rd game. If they lost the 3rd game they would play an easier team, therefore they had an incentive to lose. The rules are broken for allowing teams to see who they will play based on their win/loss in the 3rd game…which gives the teams the ability to lose to play an easier team…also the removal of single/double elimination means there are no consequences for losing a match in the preliminary rounds. This situation could be fixed by creating a blind tournament (so players wouldn’t know the team they would play based on their final win/loss) or by using single/double elimination so each match really matters.

  • Lawrence

    There’s a couple of things about this that warrants discussion. First, if you’re tanking games in order to get a better shot at a gold medal, YOU’VE LARGELY GIVEN UP ON YOURSELF before the game has even started. Is that the message you really want to send the world? Second, if you know other teams were cheating, WHY DIDN’T YOU REPORT IT? Two wrongs don’t make a right, as we see from college football. Third, tanking games to play lesser teams IS POOR SPORTSMANSHIP because you don’t respect the so-called lesser team and you really don’t know if you’re going to beat the lesser team. In sports, anything and everything can and does happen. And its CHEATING, because you’ve obviously scouted out every team in the field in an effort to map your way to a STRONG COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE.

  • Michael

    Was it wrong for badminton teams to throw a game in pursuit of an Olympic medal?

    Yes.

    Play hard, play fair, nobody hurt.

    Toke or eat some good ganja and consider the larger and infinite games.

  • Regnar James

    Commies… will do anything to be number one.

    In all aspects… sports mirror society.

    DTOM

  • Mary

    Yes, Jefferson, I am aware of the rules change, so were the teams. They still have to follow the rules. I agree a blind system would be much better. But the current rules also say that every team has to play their best at all times. Throwing the game and breaking the rules in such a blatant way was wrong.

  • Leonard

    Oh please___ is it wrong to cheat or bend the rules or not enforce the rules? To the normal moral ones, Yes it is! But, according to the latest Congressional findings, our very own nation’s top cop ,Attorney general Holder, under the blessings of the man who appointed him, __chooses__ not to enforce the laws and he threatens ICE officers that dare do their job by arresting felony illegal drivers…so if it is OK for the A.G. Holder to cheat, and as our Treasury Secretary Geithner also cheated by not paying his $37,000.00 in federal taxes, then I guess our leadership is being a great role model to foster cheating as acceptable practice.

  • Steve the Cynic

    What idiot designed a tournament system where it’s to a team’s advantage to lose? Whoever it was is the one who should be barred from the sport. It sounds to me like the players were just working within the existing rules to gain whatever advantage they could, and then the rules were changed retroactively, because some sports purists thought they should have done what’s “right” instead of what’s within the rules. If you design a system with perverse incentives, don’t complain if you get perverse results.

  • Cate

    It’s called loopholes. What they did is no worse than what the very wealthy do when paying taxes. Their actions aren’t necessarily illegal but their morals are reprehensible.

  • Rich

    Olympic organizers can start out by putting teams from the same country in different groups. If they both advance, they can be placed on opposite sides of the knockout bracket, so that they cannot meet until the finals. If the two teams both make it to the gold medal match, the outcome will have no effect on the country’s overall medal count. Under those conditions, even the most dedicated team players can be expected to play their hardest.

  • Wally

    Play hard, play fair, nobody hurt.

    I learned that from the New Games book. A good philosophy of any sport. Thanks, Michael, for reminding me of that.

    I won’t even throw a Scrabble or Monopoly game with my kids. What’s it teach them if Dad takes a fall?

    But then, winning isn’t everything. In our pickup volleyball games, if one team just keeps winning, we change the teams. It’s about the playing. Again . . Play hard, play fair, nobody hurt.