As the Winter Olympics approach, I’m reminded of the wonderful Vancouver Olympics in 2010, where Canada’s athletes made us all proud. Every athlete out there did their best to try and win. Not all were successful, but they tried as hard as they could. Cliché, I know.
But that wasn’t the case for everyone in the most recent Summer Olympics.
For those who don’t remember, China, Indonesia and two South Korean teams blatantly tried to lose their matches to avoid having to play certain opponents. It resulted in two brutal games of badminton that neither team wanted to win. The four teams who threw their games were disqualified. That raises the issue of it happening again in Sochi next month.
I can’t understand wanting to lose. Ever. Anytime I’ve ever lost at competitive sports, it wasn’t a good feeling. In high school basketball, I remember one team who would always throw at least one game to have a “favourable” matchup in playoffs. We would often play them and their three best players would have mysterious injuries. It never made sense.
In their defense, basketball – as with many other sports – has a lot to do with matchups. They thought they would matchup better against a different team, so they threw the game. The thing is, it never seemed to help. In my years playing basketball they were never able to make it to the finals.
As the saying goes, “You gotta beat the best to be the best.” The team couldn’t beat the best, and therefore never was the best. A team or athlete that doesn’t have the competitive drive to beat everyone out there is going to struggle against the team or athlete that does.
Of course losing does have its value, but you don’t get that much-needed experience if you never tried in the first place. I would rather win a badminton match in the Olympics, even if it meant it was very likely I would lose the next one. Losing is definitely better than getting disqualified.
There are a few times when it might be acceptable to let someone else win. If you’re trying to charm a special girl or guy, it might not be best to beat them at UNO 17 games in a row. That would be a good time to subtly forget which color you wanted to change it to, and maybe pick up some extra cards while you’re at it. Know when to play dead.
It’s also acceptable to take it easy is if you’re playing against a little kid. Sure, you might be great at volleyball, and it can be hilarious to see someone spike a volleyball into a little kid’s face, but it’s not very nice. Throwing a game to make a child feel good is rarely wrong.
When it comes to competitive sports and representing your country, play to win. There’s no shame in losing, but there sure is wanting to lose.
I think Oscar Leroy, from the great Canadian sitcom Corner Gas, said it best.
“You don’t just throw horseshoes. Well, you do throw horseshoes, but you don’t throw the game.”
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