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Badminton 'ethics' flap nothing new in sports

Aug 3, 2012 - By The Chicago Tribune

The Olympics audience came to see the best in the world play badminton. Yes, it is an Olympic sport. Instead they saw athletes serving into the net and duffing shots out of bounds, just like, well, backyard amateurs.

A sudden case of Olympics nerves?

Nope. Just cynical strategy.

Several two-women teams apparently were trying to lose preliminary matches so they could jockey for a better spot -- against a weaker opponent -- in the later rounds. That way, they'd gain a better shot at a gold medal.

But spectators jeered and officials tossed four pairs of women -- two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia -- for deliberately trying to throw their games.

Which raises a question for anyone who has ever been an athlete or even rooted for a team.

Have you ever sandbagged?

All those NFL fans who chanted, "Suck for Luck," willing their teams to lose as many games as possible so they could pick up the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. Do you take umbrage now at the big badminton scandal?

Amateur golfers can collect on a lot of bets if they have a handicap that's higher than their actual ability. How to do that? Blow a few shots late in the round, after the match has been decided. "Sandbagger" gets muttered on the golf course more than any other playing field.

In billiards, it's a sign of craftiness.

IOC Vice President Craig Reedie, the former head of the international badminton federation, welcomed the tossing of the badminton teams. "Sport is competitive," Reedie told the AP. "If you lose the competitive element, then the whole thing becomes a nonsense. You cannot allow a player to abuse the tournament like that, and not take firm action. So good on them."

OK, good on them.

Now tell us why badminton is an Olympic sport.

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