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Badminton jokes net laughs

August 13, 2012

HANCOCK — Look at the bright side, you only have to read my post-Olympic assessment column once every four years.

It is kind of like the Transit of Venus that way. You really don’t want to hear about it and don’t know why you should care, but at least you know it won’t happen again in your lifetime.

I’m always accused of focusing on the negative, so I’ll start out by saying, “How ’bout that U.S. women’s soccer team! U-S-A, U-S-A!”

No, I didn’t see the final against Japan either, but I was happy about it in the sense that I view it as revenge for the Datsun B-210.

Aside from that, however, the Olympics haven’t been as much fun for me since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

That was when you could really root not just for your country, not just for sport, but for good to triumph over evil.

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We had real amateurs, while the Eastern Bloc had professionals. Not only that, but professionals hepped up on goofballs. Remember all those East German “women” swimmers who were so juiced that they had to shave the palms of their hands? Next to them, Barry Bonds could do a fair impression of Ally McBeal.

They’d come dripping out of the pool looking like Lyle Alzado hauling himself out of a sweat lodge.

And our little waifs would have to go up against them, and if they should somehow win, it was more than triumph, it was divine intervention.

But today? I don’t know, it’s hard to get righteously indignant when the biggest scandal you can scrape together involves badminton.

I played it as a kid, so it was interesting to me to see the game as it’s played by Olympic athletes. We’d always lob the shuttlecock lazily back and forth, but in the Olympics they get smacked at speeds of better than 200 miles an hour.

That’s more than the average speed at Daytona. Probably. Fifty miles an hour faster than the hardest recorded tennis serve. How is that even possible? Except this year, fans went to see high-speed action and were instead treated to a bunch of teams lethargically plugging the shuttlecock into the net.

Since they were losing on purpose, eight women’s doubles players were disqualified from the Olympics.

That’s good, I guess. But if you have a better chance of advancing by losing, maybe that’s a problem with the rules, not with the players.

The only silver lining is that I get to finally use 40 years worth of pent-up badminton jokes.

How did the Olympic Committee know they were cheating, did a little birdie tell them? Didn’t anyone tell these women not to play with matches? Well, it’s all one big racket anyway.

Don’t you love it?

But it totally blew up my Olympic badminton bracket. Thanks a lot, Southeast Asia.

Of course, my day wasn’t ruined as much as was that of Yu Yang, the Chinese player who was so distraught at being disqualified that she quit the sport altogether.

“This is my last match,” she blogged. “Farewell Badminton World Federation. Farewell my beloved badminton.”

Wowee. That is good. The only way it could have been better is if she drank a chalice of poison after signing off. That’s going to go down as one of the best lines in history. I will fight no more forever. Good night sweet prince. Farewell my beloved badminton.

Let flights of shuttlecocks sing thee to thy rest.

She wouldn’t have received more attention if she had won the gold. Not from me, at least.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.

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