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Thread: Olympic badminton scandal

  1. #1
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    Nov 2005
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    Default Olympic badminton scandal

    Anyone paying attention to the Olympic badminton scandal? It raises an interesting question that applies to any sport with a "round robin, then elimination round" format. In fact, it applies to any sport where losing confers a positive outcome.

    In the badminton case, teams that were already guaranteed to advance out of the round robin stage tanked matches in order to affect placement in the elimination round bracket. China, for instance, was favored to place two teams in the gold medal match, meaning that they'd win both gold and silver. But, one of their teams was (legitimately) upset in a round robin game, meaning that the two Chinese teams would be placed in the same half of the bracket, with the best case being a semifinal match-up.

    By intentionally losing selected final matches in the round robin phase, China, Indonesia, and South Korea could alter the brackets and improve their position and potential medal outcome. To make matters worse, at least one match feature BOTH teams attempting to lose.

    So here's a question--what's wrong with tactical losses to improve one's position? If the rules forbid such behavior, that's one thing. (And in the case of badminton, I have no idea what the rules say.) But if there's not rule against, is it really wrong to lose on purpose? In many professional sports, for instance, better draft picks go to teams with worse records.

  2. #2
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    Nov 2005
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    Wayland MA
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    Default

    A closely related question--should an athlete or team always compete as hard as possible? The accepted answer here is a clear "no;" common examples range from running out the clock to resting starters once a victory is secure or a playoff spot is clinched. How is outright losing on purpose fundamentally any different?

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