The Mercy Rule…in video games, sports, and life, sometimes a threshold is set in the unwritten rule book to cut ones loses before it gets somewhat embarrassing. In ping pong, 11-0 is grounds to put the paddles down. FIFA on XBox stipulates a 4-0 point gap before players must unplug. In golf, once you double a holes par it’s time to pick up and head to the next. These upper bounds of ultimate defeat are set to avoid any further destruction; a failsafe of sorts that cuts ones loses, presumably so they don’t quit the activity all together. Mercy Rules are all well in good when you’re younger and you’re still in the development period. I’d also say they’re alright when fixed to a benign game amongst friends and family. Professional sports, as you probably noticed, don’t have a mercy rule. Once you reach the upper echelon of your craft, whether it be sports or business, the goal more or less is too vanquish your opponent to the best of your ability. When the crowd is watching we aim for the jugular, chose our point of entrance, and annihilate…this is the Art of War.
The 10 day spectacle in Rio is well underway, where the worlds most premier athletes finally get to showcase their lifetime of work they’ve dedicated to their discipline. Whether it be gymnastics, swimming, or volleyball…the athletes of the world flock to the Games every 4 years to bring home a medal to their country; the ultimate achievement an Olympian can claim. While most of the events are nail-biters, pushing viewers to the end of their seats in suspense for an outcome, the same can’t be said about the behemoth that is USA basketball and their inevitable triumph at the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Rio. Olympic basketball has become a sport that hardly even warrants a score check…well, unless you’re a sadist.
The USAMBT (USA Mens Basketball Team) spearheaded Americas Olympic campaign with a devastating defeat over China, 119-62. On Monday, the grim reapers that are Draymond Green and Paul George did what they are paid 50$ million + to do in the States again, letting it rain on the Venezuelans boasting a 44 point victory. Our American ladies are showing their superiority in their bracket as well, Wo-manhandling Senegal, defeating the African country by more points than they even conceded. While there are other athletes catching Zika in Rio that are capable of squandering the competition like the American Ballers have, it’s obvious that there is no safer bet for gold than for our NBA/WNBA power squads. While W’s are surely the main objective of any sport, these gargantuan margins of victory are leaving a bad taste in my mouth; a disheartening feeling that almost had me cheering in the opposite direction.
When watching the Olympics, it’s essential to base yourself in an ancient BC Rome..I’m talking Before Christ/Carmelo and view the spectacle with at least some shred of origin and tradition. Back in Olympia, when the first games were held amongst neighboring city-states, the competition carried religious, cultural, and militant significance, as the lighting of the torch signified a ceasefire and truce amongst any quarreling enemies. While these ideals are still held to heart by the Olympic Committee itself (i.e. the 1936 Nazi Olympic Boycott in Berlin), the viewership is admit-ably out of touch. With NBA contracts reaching figures incomprehensible by most, I fear we watch the games the same way we watch the NBA finals, praying for an emasculating blowout, laden with trash talk and absent of remorse. While I know there is no place for a Mercy Rule on the world stage, I can’t help but cringe when Kyrie and the boys keep laying it on in the 4th.
Flashback to the opening ceremonies, when the 11,000+ athletes from the 206 represented countries showed face for the first time, GoPros in hand and tears rolling from the cheek. Decently traveled and somewhat versed in Geography, I was left in awe at the amount of countries I’ve never heard of before. For some, this was the first time they’ve ever left the borders of their birthplace, sans the Olympic trials. For others, whose parents either traveled miles for a T.V. or shelled out weeks of earnings to pay for the broadcast, this would surely stand as THE highlight of their life, hands down. Of course, when these athletes see their name come out of the hat and see an American fielded against them, they know they are dealing with the most elite athlete in contest. Similar to when our enemies wage war or enter treaties with us, they know the beast that they are proceeding with. They lace up their Jordans and play their heart out, but to come up so devastatingly short must hurt…once the agony of defeat clouds the pride of country and erases the appreciativeness exhibited prior to the game.
God bless America and best of luck to our athletic representations. May you all bring home gold and add the metal to your already decorated mantel. Compete for your country and make your citizens proud…but I urge you, for the little boy from Burkina Faso, Mavali, and Tuvalu, who’s just happy to be there, overwhelmed with emotion to share the court with Klay Thompson…don’t squander the dream.