Susan Arledge: Dallas CRE and the 2012 Olympic Games

Susan Arledge

Who knew badminton was the most cutthroat and vicious of all Olympic sports … and why it will never happen here.

As the Olympic games are now well underway, the tragic and unconscionable badminton scandal of 2012 raises the obvious question: Why the heck is badminton being played in the Olympics at all? I can only assume that the early Greek Olympians are turning in their graves knowing that their treasured games now include badminton and curling.

And why does Liechtenstein even send a team to the Olympics, with an area just over 62 square miles and a population of 36,400? Crime sprees must run rampant with such a large percentage of the country’s population attending the Olympics. The only possibility they might have for a medal would be in cross country skiing, because cross country skiing is always a lot easier when it’s a small country!

U.S. women’s sports have become hugely popular as a result of Title IX, and it’s rewarding to watch sports that involve confident women, such as swimming, gymnastics, and the ever-popular beach volleyball. But it is really painful to watch women’s weightlifting, which has been defined as a sport for “women who could pick up a refrigerator unassisted?” This competitive weightlifting surely dates back to ancient times, when the Greeks had no choice but to be very strong, as most of their possessions were made of marble.

I’m not sure whether the women weighed 63 kg., or the weights weighed 63 kg., but as Dave Barry, renowned Olympics columnist and blogger said:  “My belief, as an American, is that if I have to start understanding the metric system, then the terrorists have won.”

Dave reported sadly that the woman weightlifter who won a gold medal for Thailand in the Beijing Olympics, Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon—who changed her name from Chanpim Kantatian on the advice of a fortune-teller—failed to make the Thai team this year because her training went poorly, according to Thai Amateur Weightlifting Association President Maj. Gen. Intharat Yodbangtoey.

Now the men’s cyclists are incredible, racing on a 156 mile course (making it hard to be much of a spectator sport once they depart, travel through the English countryside and into the town of Dorking). Dorking, which is home to the world-famous Dorking Cockerel, proudly is noted for its 10-foot-high sculpture of a chicken that has gotten into the Olympic spirit. A huge gold medal was placed around its neck by a group of seriously guerilla knitters, Dave Barry reports. I confirmed on Wikipedia, so I swear he’s not making this up, that the medal was created by “the Knit ’n’ Knatter group, which meets regularly at the Fluff-a-Torium shop in West Street.” You just gotta love the British.

But all the fun and excitement aside, so far, there have been so many tragic events:

• The U.S. team marching in the opening ceremonies and not “tipping” the flag when passing by the Queen. (Legend has it, the U.S. flag-bearer at the 1908 Olympics in London did not dip the flag as it passed King Edward VII, and its team captain famously explained later, “This flag bows to no earthly king.”)

• The wrong flag raised at a women’s soccer match. (And of course it had to involve the North Koreans, who have no sense of humor at all or apparently any real skill  at soccer.)

• The U.S. teams’ Ralph Lauren uniforms being made in China. (And why is it never mentioned that they were wearing French berets?)

• Those horrendous Russian uniforms—regardless of where they were made!

• Intentionally losing badminton games in order to meet weaker opponents in the next round.

• Women’s Water Polo team member’s wardrobe malfunction—aired live on national TV by NBC (for those who may have been watching at 3 a.m.)

So, does this all mean that badminton may really be the most vicious and cutthroat of all Olympic Sports?

Ha! We commercial real estate types scoff at some Olympians’ definitions of scandal. You want scandal?  Sit down with some tenured members of our commercial real estate industry, and you will be inundated with wonderful stories of scandals in the industry. We’ve got all kinds—but I can tell you one we will never have—not trying your hardest to win and intentionally “throwing” a deal. It just wouldn’t happen. Not here. Our real estate community fights too hard in a highly competitive arena and is way too professional.

It reminds me of Eric Moussambani in the Sydney 2000 Olympics. You remember Eric. He was the swimmer from the tiny country of Equatorial Guinea (which under its despotic president Obiang was described as “a ruthless one-party state where elections are stolen and opponents jailed; its government is also accused of gross human rights abuses, including torture and killings” … but I digress) who gained entry to the Olympics via a wild-card system then established to give athletes from developing countries the opportunity to compete.

There were three swimmers in his 100M freestyle qualifying heat. Two were DQ’d for jumping the gun, and Olympic authorities announced Moussambani would have to compete alone against the clock, in front of 17,000 spectators, in a bid to make the qualifying time of 1min 10sec (the world record at the time was 48.18sec). He barely finished with a time of 1:53. But he finished—and that was seriously in question as his swim progressed.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part,” said Baron Pierre de Coubertin, International Olympic Committee founder, of Moussambani’s effort. “The essential thing in life is not conquering, but fighting well.”

Susan Arledge is president of Arledge Partners Real Estate. Contact her at [email protected]