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“Thoughts on sporting morality”

August 3, 2012

Earlier this morning, I heard the story from the Olympics regarding several badminton teams and individual players deliberately trying to lose a match in order to get a better tie later in the competition.

Later came was the apparently practiced cycling fall by Team GB rider Philip Hindes, in attempt to force a restart for a race in which the GB quartet would eventually win the gold medal.

Both incidents have caused their fair share of consternation, although the anguish was less vocal following the Hindes’ incident.

Neither action has been deemed illegal by the Olympic committee, yet the badminton players have been sent home for going against the spirit of the rules, but surely any game that clings to that age old sporting hazard “spirit of the rules” actively leaves itself open to disrepute.
And if these tactics can be exploited by players and teams clever enough to spot them, then surely is it not natural to take the advantage and run for it?

Typically, the tabloids led the way with lurid headlines following the badminton scandal, whereas the broadsheets were somewhat more composed – but equally as cutting – in their criticism.

Yet, these incidents do prompt me to ask:

why are we surprised when these actions come to the fore and why do we have a problem with these tactics? Or have I been watching Formula 1 and motorsport for so long, that I now consider “moral cheating” to be part and parcel of modern sport?

What does this have to do with motorsport? Well, I will admit to being somewhat annoyed when the revelations of Singapore Grand Prix in 2008 came to the fore, but my initial thought was “why doesn’t this happen more often?”
The same came to mind following Michael Schumacher’s engineered victory at the A1-Ring in 2002 and Bryan Herta’s “mysterious” spin, bringing out a late safety car and allowing Marco Andretti to ride safety to victory at Watkins Glen in 2006.
And why not use the tools at hand and use them to your advantage. If the rules allow it, then why not grab every advantage possible? Surely that’s how sport works, right…?

It is something that might make an interesting debate, as I would be quite interested to hear thoughts of the possible disconnect. Also, do other motorsport fans feel the same way when tactics in other sports bring them in to disrepute?

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