The awkwardness of Olympic badminton

Published 10:55 am Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Summer Olympics this time around have been, in short, awe-inspiring.

From Virginia Beach native Gabby Douglas’s triumph to Michael Phelps’s record-breaking wins to Oscar Pistorious’s inspirational story, you have to admit it’s hard not to get caught up in the buzz surrounding the games.

Even this girl, who’s not all that wowed by sports, has been there closely following competitions.

If you think about it the Olympics has all that is needed to keep your attention: the competition, the accomplishment, the heartbreaking moments, the drama…and even the poor sportsmanship.

Ok, let’s face it, no matter how wrapped up we get in the Olympics there’s always one bad apple that spoils the barrel. There’s always someone or something there to throw a wrench (or in the case of the Winter Olympics a club) in an athlete’s best laid plans and our viewing pleasure.

This year the honor belonged to the sport of badminton. Hold on to your birdies and racquets because scandal has rocked the very core of the badminton world.

This past week the Badminton World Federation (who plans to take over the world someday with their awesome name) disqualified eight female players for purposely trying to lose their matches, by making simple mistakes, in order to receive a more favorable place in the tournament.

The decision affected two teams from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia. Many teams blamed the introduction of a round-robin stage rather than a straight knockout tournament as the main cause of the scandal. In the round-robin format, losing one game can lead to an easier matchup in the next round.

During the matches, the audience soon became aware of the players’ efforts to throw their matches and eventually booed the pairs off the court.

Previous badminton medalists and even a badminton reporter called the players out on their embarrassing behavior.

It seems bad enough that these players are involved in probably the most unglamorous and boring of all Summer Olympic sports, but they had to take it a little bit further by attempting to cheat at it.

It’s a huge fall from grace going from super nerd to all-out loser.

Perhaps their punishment should be the same as the general populous’ experience with badminton.

They should be forced to play the game in a crowded backyard during a family barbecue (preferably after a few drinks) with loud, obnoxious relatives who scream at you every time the birdie fails to make it over the $5 net that keeps slumping and falling down.

Yeah, that would make them think twice about cheating…and badminton in general.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.