Monday, July 22, 2013

Putting the 'Bad' in Badminton

You may remember the Olympic badminton controversy, in which players were deliberately tanking matches so they could enjoy an easier path to the medal game? That was bad.... So bad there was some concern that badminton might be the sport kicked out of the Olympics (instead it was wrestling, which was nonsense ...).

But this is pretty bad too. A little ass-kicking delivered from one Thai badminton Olympian to another:

Hey, can we all please get along? 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Olympic Drugfest

The world has recently been treated to the horrifying news that rhythmic gymnastics is embroiled in a judging scandal. I'm shocked, shocked. And I thought all these "artistic sports" were on the up-and-up.

Well, you would at least think they would be better than all the doping that has been going on in several sports over the years. The obsessive-compulsives at Wikipedia have compiled an incomplete but extensive list of athletes who have been caught cheating using performance-enhancing drugs. And as the Olympic committee will sit soon to vote on whether to readmit wrestling, readmit baseball/softball, or admit squash, they might want to act in concert with their propaganda, and vote in a clean sport that does not have episode after episode of drug-fueled competition.

Check out the wiki list. You'll see plenty of wrestling and plenty of baseball, plus plenty of cycling and alarming amounts in swimming, a ton in weightlifting and other strength sports like shotput, and the world's favorite, futbol. On the comical side, there is a snooker player listed, wow.

And, in the long list of names, truth be told, there is one squash player. Karen Kronemeyer, of the Netherlands, got caught taking benzylpiperazine, a party drug that gives a bit of a euphoric high. Unlisted, but Stephane Galifi, former Italian #1, was also busted, for pot and possibly cocaine.

But these two busts don't make the sport corrupt, they only indicate there are a few partiers on the squash circuit who ought to tone it down a notch. They aren't bulking up on steroids or injecting hyper-oxygenated blood back in to their system.

Here's a run-down on the top 10 druggiest sports....

Yet you can bet that when it comes down to decision time at the Olympic committee meeting in September, will there be any hesitation in voting in wrestling or baseball/softball, based on their thoroughly corrupted past? I doubt it. The IOC talks the talk but they most definitely do not care about setting an example.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ramy Ashour and the Egyptian Revolution

 The other day on Alan Thatcher’s blog (here) we saw a picture of Ramy Ashour out celebrating during the protests that are currently sweeping Egypt. There is a lot to say about these protests, but what I would like to start out with is simply a plea to Ramy, “Get outta da streets!”

Ramy, the best squash player on the planet, does not need to go out and get himself killed in what could be a bloody mess. I sympathize with his feelings, and I know it would be hard not to join in on the demonstrations for what must seem like a fight for independence akin to our 1776, but there is another argument, that Ramy is the leader of the sport and is an Egyptian recognized around the world. Could he do his country more of a favor by being an exemplar of the sport, perhaps even playing it in the Olympics in 2020, or should he be one of millions taking to the streets and clamoring for change? Could he use his celebrity status to articulate the wishes of freedom-loving Egyptians, perhaps even to rally like-minded Egyptians to the cause? It’s a tough call, of course, but I say Ramy, and indeed all the many top Egyptian squash players, should sit tight. Use their influence behind the scenes, definitely, but sit tight and represent the New Egypt when the time is right. 

The latest tumult in Egypt puts American sensitivities in a quandary. After all, the government of President Mohammed Morsi was elected in a democratic election that was judged to be fair by outside observers. If many Egyptians don’t happen to like what Morsi is doing, then in a democratic country they would be expected to organize, demonstrate peaceably, and throw the bums out in the next election. I was not a fan of George W. Bush, and when, amazingly, he was elected again, I was beside myself, but being a good democrat I just stayed back, licked my wounds, and planned for the next election. Likewise, those Republicans who consider Obama to be a socialist Kenyan from hell and the worst president ever are doing the same, but in reverse. That’s the American way….

So the American impulse is to root for the demonstrators, who want to expel the Islamists who now rule, but to do that they are really rooting for a military takeover of a democratically elected government. It’s a disconnect. What should happen is Morsi and his crew should listen to the demonstrators and make changes to their governance, but they are hard-liners convinced they have all the answers, and so the positions are locked in, and the military awaits. There will be blood.

Ramy! Let none of that blood be yours….