In the 2002 World Cup, David Beckham delivered a chest-thumping radio interview following England's 3-0 defeat of Denmark to qualify for the tournament's quarter finals.
In the 2002 World Cup, David Beckham delivered a chest-thumping radio interview following England's 3-0 defeat of Denmark to qualify for the tournament's quarter finals writes Thom Kennedy.
I don't really mind who we play next, he told the nation, because we have to beat the best teams to win.
Strangely, that tournament isn't remembered in England for the triumphs of our team, so much as for Beckham pulling out of a challenge seconds before Brazil equalised in the very next round, and for David Seaman pawing blindly at thin air as Ronaldinho's lucky/brilliant winner sailed into the top corner.
My point? You enter sporting tournaments to win. The taking part is all well and good, and nobody will disrespect you if you reach the limits of your capabilities while giving your all, but ultimately, you're not there to bow out a proud failure in round two if you are capable of more.
The good fortune England's players enjoyed en route to the semi-finals in the 1990 World Cup overwrites the middling quality of the team's performances to that point. Victory eclipses heroic failure in all but the most unique cases.
So why have the eight badminton players disqualified from the Olympic Games been attacked with such disdain at their desire to face easier opposition in the next round?
They were simply making a calculated gamble, looking to achieve the most winnable tie in the hope it would lead them into a medal position, and perhaps even to a one-off shot at a gold medal?
Alright, their tactics were weasly, cowardly, and a touch underhand.
But ultimately, when faced with those kinds of criticisms four, five years down the line, the medals hanging round the players' necks provides a decent kind of response to such criticisms. Those that did not get that far would look back on their failure with as based on their own shortcomings, and not the decision they made last night.
When a marathon runner makes a slow start, they are not cheating, they are pacing themselves tactically. When a cricket captain wins the toss, they look at the conditions and decide whether batting first would benefit their team - all so they can give their team that crucial advantage in the contest as a whole.
They have no responsibility to the spectators - they are paid to win, not to provide a sideshow spectacle.
In the results-driven world of modern sport, players look to make tactical advantages wherever they can, and should not be dismissed from their discipline for deciding to do so.
To throw them out of the tournament for coming up with creative ways of gaining the edge on their opponents is ridiculous, hypocritical, and sets an absurd precedent.