London 2012: Disgracing the Olympic Games

Much to your dismay (probably), this blog won’t be about NBC’s sub par coverage of the London Olympics, nor will it be a long, angry diatribe about prime time viewership allowing super spoilers.

Instead, I want to talk about two sports; one you probably follow closely, one you probably only played in high school gym class because you absolutely had to (and let’s be real – nobody wants to be held back for failing high school gym).

First, soccer. “Football,” as it’s known abroad. Silly foreigners! Football is for helmets and pads and skull crushing and heaps of money and shitty commissioners! But, I digress.

I know so..er..football isn’t exactly the most popular sport here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. But people are starting to come around. And every couple of years, football frenzy reaches peak performance in America, when our Women’s National Team is in the World Cup or Olympics.

While our Men’s National Team squander in eternal awfulness, the Women’s team is actually one of the best teams in the world annually. And they are one of the favorites again in this 2012 Summer Olympics. Their biggest competition will likely come from Japan (curse thy name, World Cup shoot out ninjas!) and the powerhouse Brazil team.

And those are the two teams who will be playing each other in the next round of Olympic soccer. The issue I have with them playing, is that it never should have happened. Buhhhhh whaaaa?

Japan’s coach Norio Sasaki apparently told reporters that she told her players to purposely play to a draw against a weak South African squad in its last game of pool play. Interesting strategy – not illegal, not intentionally “throwing” the game…but seriously immoral and against the integrity of both the sport and the Olympics themselves. 

You can read more about Japan intentionally playing to a 0-0 tie HERE. 

I really wish South Africa had somehow popped a last-second goal in to completely knock Japan out of the tournament. Why? Because the whole reason Sasaki wanted to tie and finish 2nd in their group was to avoid traveling – wait for it – 300 miles to play their next game tomorrow.

Really? 300 miles? That’s a four, maybe five-hour drive. A one hour flight. It’s like going from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo.

To cap it off, the strategy backfires big time. Good for you, Japan. You get to stay in Wales and play on the same field you “tied” on. Plus one for comfort and familiarity? Minus 100 for not realizing you now have to play BRAZIL in the knockout round.

For the sake of footballers and sports fans across the entire globe, I sincerely hope Brazil pounds Japan into the turf tomorrow. Because the flight back to Japan is sure a hell of a lot farther than Wales to Scotland. Sheesh.

Now, let us turn our attention to the fierce competition that revolves around a …ball?… with the funniest name in sports history. Badminton and its star player, the shuttlecock (don’t pretend you didn’t giggle)!

Four pairs of female badminton players representing China, South Korea and Indonesia were disqualified from the doubles tournament for purposely losing matches in order to get better seeds in the later rounds.

At first glance, you might think “So? It’s badminton.” Well, believe it or not, badminton is actually fairly popular outside of America. And those teams that threw the matches are insanely good at it. Good to the point of making me wonder why they felt the need to lose on purpose? 

The Chinese teams especially dominate that event, but they needed to be lazy and have their way with easier teams along the way to another inevitable gold medal? Come on.

It’s an even more cowardly move than Japan’s soccer team. At least Japan didn’t throw the match they were in – they simply played conservatively for a stupid reason and slide tackled the sport IN THE FACE while doing so.

In my opinion, purposely losing is a whole different beast. Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings had never lost an Olympic set until yesterday, but they would never take it easy in the opening rounds in order to line up with easier opponents on their way to a gold.

You would never see a baseball team lose purposely to win a Wild Card spot instead of the division so they get to play the A’s instead of the Yankees. And though NFL teams like to sit their players in week 17 when the playoffs are assured, you can bet those scrubs falling all over themselves are working their tails off to win the game still.

Sports are sacred. Everybody ultimately wants to be the best at whatever they do, and sports is one way we measure that.

Best athlete. Best team. Best scorer. Best defender.

And what higher honor than being the best at your sport in the entire world? That means out of 7,057,351,245 or so people in the world, you are number one.

Whoa.

Yet, with stakes like that, the Japanese women’s soccer team and especially the eight women disqualified from the badminton tournament have disrespected a collection of Games started by the Ancient Greeks to honor the gods. Isn’t that sort of like farting in God’s general direction?

Okay, okay that’s a little far. I apologize. But as a fan of sport, I fully endorse the badminton players’ disqualification. I wholeheartedly hope Brazil rolls Japan like sushi in tomorrow’s soccer game.

And I REALLY hope the International Olympic Committee reconsiders how “far” soccer teams have to travel in future Games, so this problem can be avoided altogether.

Maybe we should give the Expelled Eight and Japan’s soccer team a little taste of how much we respect sports in America…have you watched that link yet?…you probably should…thank you.

Told ya badminton could be cool!

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