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Updated: August 2, 2012 5:02PM
LONDON — To date, the biggest story of these Olympics is the badminton scandal, in which four teams were kicked out for purposely tanking matches.
There has been much gnashing of teeth the past few days about the loss of sportsmanship and the deterioration of the Olympic ideal. And we can all agree that cheating is wrong.
But this is what I keep coming back to: It’s badminton! We’re supposed to care why?
Eight players were disqualified – four from South Korea and two each from China and Indonesia. A Chinese pair tried to lose to a South Korea team so it wouldn’t have to face another Chinese team in the semifinals. But South Korea tried to lose, too, meaning fans were treated to the sight of players from both teams purposely serving into the net.
But as terrible as it is to be exposed to the seamy side of life, have we really hit bottom when it’s a sport we Americans know as something to be played at a picnic? This is like cheating at barbecuing, isn’t it?
You can accuse me of being stuck in a baseball-basketball-football-hockey rut. You would be wrong, but you can accuse me. I just think there are some sports that require more athleticism and skill than others.
I care about badminton cheating to the extent that I care about human behavior. My first thought when I heard about the scandal: They’re cheating over something as silly as badminton? My second thought: Why not go all the way and start shooting up with steroids?
All this proves is that we humans can get obsessed about anything, even badminton. No matter how obscure or benign the pursuit, there will always be a hard-core group of people who live and die with it.
But that doesn’t mean badminton is worthy of having a controversy that overshadows the Olympics. We media love a scandal, but not all of them should be covered like Watergate.
Let’s try to keep this in mind as we ponder the big questions about human weakness:
It’s only freaking badminton!