The Olympics may be over with, but we’re not done talking about them, and we’re never done talking about China. Namely how they’ll probably one day end up owning us, or something along those lines. We’re not the kind to argue with results, and since 1996 China has been able to almost double its overall final medal counts in London and in Beijing four years ago.
So what does that mean about China? It means there’s a few secrets to their success and some important lessons we can deduce about the house that Mao built.
Their Camps for Curing Internet Addiction Work Wonders
Are you addicted to the internet? Does natural light and the idea of fresh air unnerve you? Are you bored with sex BEFORE you’ve actually had sex because of the amount of free available porn out there? Well, congratulations for being an American. But also, it’s really too bad you don’t live in China.
If you’re maladjusted in some weird way for the modern world because of too much internet, they send you to a camp. Not a camp in the “everybody-sits-around-the-fire-and-sings-kumbaya” sense, a camp in the “we’re-trying-to-cure-you-of-something” sense. Basically, a military-style rehabilitation center…except it’s called a camp so nobody’s feelings get hurt about playing too much World of Warcraft.
We Americans have this sort of thing too, except only for drug addicts and fat kids. So…is it just us who thinks there’s no way there’s NO correlation with that little discrepancy and them gaining on us in the medal tally?
Sometimes China’s Sexytime Might Be More Business than Pleasure
Exhibit A: Yao Ming. Yao Ming’s parents were both basketball stars in China who were more or less encouraged by the Shanghai Sports Organization to start knocking boots so they could produce a dominant athlete. Their pairing was just one instance of Mao Zedong’s initiative to create a Soviet-style communist sports machine by singling out the nation’s most genetically gifted citizens and playing cupid.
Now, it’s likely that Yao’s case is just an isolated incident. But, hey now, they did double their medal count in the span of a generation. And that’s just basketball—an Olympic sport they don’t really care about yet. Imagine the kind of eugenic preparation they would put into diving.
Their Most Popular Athlete Isn’t Who You Likely Think It Is
Yao Ming? Yi Jianlian? Li Na? If the average American had to hazard a guess, they would probably land on one of those. And they would be close, but not entirely accurate. That honor, at the present moment, goes to Liu Xiang. He’s the former world-record holder and 2004 gold medalist in the 110m high hurdles.
Xiang winning the gold medal in 2004 was kind of a huge deal for the Chinese. Before him, they had never won a gold medal in a track & field event. And furthermore, it defied that old lingering stereotype that Asians couldn’t compete at the top levels of sprinting events. The fact that the country almost went into national mourning after he pulled out of the 2008 competition due to injury, and nearly bankrupted their national blogosphere after he did the same thing in London are a testament to his Jordanesque stature.
Their Definition of Athletic Success is a Tad Different from Ours
It’s pointless to turn the U.S. vs. China into the next great Olympic rivalry, because China is great at stuff we consider either drunken recreation (table tennis), or high-born drunken recreation (badminton). It’s of no use to compare medal counts, because there aren’t many events where we directly compete with them for golds and silvers. And most of this is a matter of economics.
Most of China’s sports coffers are funneled toward Olympic preparation and its overall emphasis on individual, medal-based achievements. This leaves them with little opportunity to build strong domestic, team-based leagues like the EPL in Great Britain, or our NBA. This is why they’ll likely both continue to dominate fields like shooting, judo, and diving, and be god-awful at soccer.
They Don’t Follow Confucius, They Follow Ricky Bobby
“If you’re not first, you’re last.”
China prefers to simplify its strategy when it comes to competition. Their Olympics training program doesn’t beat around the emotional bush. Every implication and potential consequence, that for our Olympic athletes is only implicitly understood, is by them literalized via banners and slogans. They’re actually told that yes, they will disappoint a lot of people if they don’t succeed.
We always stop short of outright calling this approach to competition wrong because, well, that’s a freaking boatload of medals. And it also probably somehow relates to the fact that they kick our asses in math and science. Damn you, Ricky Bobby!
Will Kriegshauser got beaten up by a girl, once. You can ask him about it on Facebook or email him at email@example.com. You can find more of his writing at The Smoking Jacket, FunnyCrave,Cracked, or just Google his name and find out how deep the rabbit hole goes.
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