Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cheaters Never Win...Except in China

If you're like me, you're torn about whether to watch or even follow the Olympics. (And if you really are like me, I'm sorry.) But one storyline that keeps coming up in many of the events already in progress or completed is allegations of cheating by China. We're not talking about taking steroids or performance-enhancing drugs. Out and out cheating at the Olympics.

This isn't anything new, as there are allegations of cheating at every Olympics, and even some times actual cheating. I'm not saying China is definitely cheating yet, but I'm not not saying it either. Judging from the photos of some of the Chinese women's gymnastic team, I'd say they're definitely guilty of putting in underage girls in the competition, or they go through a lot of Oil of Olay.

The big question is why. China isn't exactly known for being a bastion of freedom and fun. The Beijing Olympics was a major coup for the country, so they wanted to put their best foot forward. That can create incredible pressure, even for known for being stoic and disciplined.

With a nation's pride on the line, other corners had to be cut beyond merely a lip-synching girl or animation at the opening ceremony. The Chinese Olympic team not only had to be able to perform, they had to perform better than everyone else whenever they could. When that couldn't happen, it would be not out of the realm of possibility to have judges influenced by one method or another. And given the authoritarian/totalitarian government style China has with the kind of nationalism that only an Olympic host country could generate, I wouldn't rule it out under any circumstances.

There is another element to consider as far as why China may be cheating, and it has to do with us. America has traditionally done very well at the Summer Olympics, so knocking down America on the world athletic stage would be a way for China to tweak us. Make no mistake. China hates us, and is willing to do anything to see us fail.

And we fail to see it, by and large.

Whether we find out China cheated at the Olympics this year is immaterial in the big picture. What's more important is that we hear what they're trying to say by doing it. China's letting us know they're still out there and they must be dealt with as a world power.

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