Friday, 19 August 2011

The No-Goodwill Tour

Two teams fighting with fists rather than a basketball

When American Vice President Joe Biden came to Beijing on Wednesday, it was expected the trip would involve some grovelling due to the US debt crisis and China holding some $1.2 trillion in US Treasuries was not a happy investor.

However things turned 180 degrees when a brawl broke out during a basketball game between the Georgetown Hoyas and Baiyi Rockets, whose players are from the People's Liberation Army.

The American university team is touring several cities in China to coincide with Biden's visit.

There was lots of amateur video taken of the final minutes of the game where the score was 64-64. A Rockets player rammed a Hoyas guard through a partition and sat on his chest wailing on him with fists. Chinese players and spectators started breaking out the punches and throwing bottles full of water and chairs.

The game abruptly ended without really finishing.

It was absolutely disgraceful to see Chinese players acting like immature sore losers when the game was tied. Why not leave it at a tie since it was supposed to be a goodwill game anyway?

It's a good thing Biden was not there to witness the mayhem, or his hosts would have been even more red-faced.

Why the Chinese players felt they had to resort to fighting is unbelievable -- but perhaps it's understandable considering they come from the PLA.

As one veteran Chinese basketball commentator said, "The team is celebrated for the 'baiyi spirit', which means you are tough, you eat bitterness and you don't leave the court even if injured."

It's strange the organizers did not choose other amateur basketball players, perhaps ones trying for the national Olympic team or other university teams. Or is it because there was some sort of deal made with the PLA about giving their players the spotlight during Biden's trip?

In any event the ugly scene revealed China's determination to win at all costs and lost sight of the whole point of sports -- that it's about the fun of playing the game, not who wins or loses.

While this will be a minor hiccup in Sino-US relations, it's a strange one.

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