- Steve Etheridge, ESPN Playbook
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Only about once every four years do you get to say, “Did you hear about that badminton thing that happened?” Today is that day.
Four women’s doubles teams — two from South Korea and one each from China and Indonesia — were disqualified from the Olympics for trying to throw their matches. The athletes reasoned that if they lost, they could play the lousy countries in the elimination round, setting them up to make the finals.
But the Badminton World Federation (note: a real thing) acted swiftly and banished the disgraced athletes to a faraway land, where all the shuttlecocks are plastic and all the nets are warped from misuse at backyard graduation parties.
If you watch the footage from the matches, the athletes sort of just flopped around lazily, making their intentions pretty obvious. They just didn’t have any idea how to discreetly throw a match. So if any other teams are considering pulling a similar stunt, I’ve put together a list of reliable strategies for successfully notching a loss.
• Fake an injury. Even if Kerri Strug had botched her vault in ’96, everyone still would’ve praised her courage. So why not endear yourself to the audience by playing with a “busted” knee, and then you can lose without scrutiny? Seems like a win-win situation, except you get to be a loser.
• Replace your racquet’s shaft with a wobbly length of garden hose. No one will ever know.
• Just join Djibouti’s team. Those guys can’t win at anything.
• Whisper in the umpire’s ear. If there’s one thing I remember from gym class in high school, it’s that a lot of times girls would go up and whisper something in the gym teacher’s ear, then he’d look real embarrassed and quietly dismiss them. Not sure what the magic words were, but girls always had a foolproof way to escape sports.
• Instead of pretending like you can’t win, why not make it so you legitimately cannot win? Choke down three tall glasses of milk and a fistful of Slim Jims before going out. All the spastic, highly coordinated lurching up and down the court will do you in for sure. Loser.
• Make eye contact with the umpire. Discreetly fan yourself with two tickets to “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” Then loudly whisper, “If we lose, they’re yours.” Cruise to defeat.
Do you have any ideas for how to throw a match? Share them in the comments. Let’s get rid of sportsmanship in the Olympics once and for all.