This long forgotten memory popped up while walking home from the train station. It is quite possible that the AWB Iraq can of worms prompted it.
This is slightly complicated to explain but I will try my best.
I was 15 years old when I played in a team table tennis tournament (teams of 4-5 players). The day before the finals, 2 players from a team in the playoff for 1st and 2nd joined my team for lunch. There was a conversation thread which I could not follow clearly. What had transpired was that these 2 players were quite unhappy with their team patron and were willing to lose their matches on purpose in order to spite him (more so his possibly boastful wife).
They were willing to lose their games but not the prize money they would have gotten had they won. They wanted one of our guys to approach the other team.
So it was arranged that they would lose but still get the money. Note that financially, they gained (nor lost) nothing.
What is troubling is that I didnt say anything when I finally understood what was happening. I would like to think that I thought it was wrong but I really dont remember whether there was any outrage on my part then. However, I do remember thinking it wasnt fair to the other 2 unknowing players (one was to become the Mens State champion the year after).
The realisation of how much one would need to hate/dislike their sponsor/patron to have wanted to do this only came later in life. It was a black day for the sport and for me. It still bothers me to this day, 20ish years later, that I remained silent.
What is also troubling is that these guys, some in their late 20s, early 30s would expose a 15 y.o. to such a situation.
I dont remember where my team finished. Lower than 4th I think.
I can only imagine the embarassment of the people who were directly involved when all this was found out a few months later. The tournament was not held the following year. One of the guys is now a locksmith after dropping out of a police cadetship.
Sorry to bore you guys, but this is for my kid, when she is older and finds out, at the lawyers reading of my will that I've spent her inheritance and all I leave her is the URL and password to my blog. Go here instead for superb and entertaining food reviews. BTW, I dont remember ever telling anybody this story. Not even my parents.
(*) but I still think of you often.
Next scheduled blog : 18th Feb 2006.