PRC Basketbrawl: Of Hoyas & Anti-US Sentiment

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 8/25/2011 12:02:00 AM
As if Joe Biden's trip to China needed to become more disastrous in the wake of his "reassurances" that China's Treasuries were safe, it turns out that the b-ball team that accompanied him suffered from an even worse fate. The above clip shows the rather violent end of a basketball match in Beijing between the Georgetown Hoyas and the People's Liberation Army squad, the Bayi Rockets of the Chinese Basketball Association. As you would expect from a testosterone-fuelled outfit alike the military, they've often been the most belligerent Communist Party members: Boost military spending! Dump Treasuries to punish America for selling arms to Taiwan! (The last one is actually a pretty nifty idea.) You get the picture. As it turns out, the Bayi Rockets have a reputation for having a mean streak--especially when matched against better teams.

To be sure, Asians have made much headway in team sports. While the Americans may have invented baseball, for instance, the Japanese have won the first two World Baseball Classic competitions featuring teams represented by nations around the globe--the real World Series. (Which again points out the parochialism of many Americans in calling a national competition the World Series when, in reality, they have fared poorly in true international competition.) Not to put too fine a point on it, but let's say the Chinese have not improved as much in basketball as the Japanese in baseball. Hence the final resort to roughhousing tactics. If you are a basketball fan, you surely remember the Detroit Pistons championship teams of 1989 and 1990. The Bad Boys were anchored by Bill Laimbeer, a player renowned for his rough play. So much so that he even had a video game created in his honour, Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball...

In hindsight, I guess they should have sent the most brutal players to China to match elbows and fists with the basketbrawl competition. So what have we learned from US-China sporting understanding from the time of ping-pong diplomacy till now? Meant to commemorate the 40th anniversary of ping-pong diplomacy, the Georgetown Hoyas' tour revealed some real public angst with Americans. While Communist Party officials are obliged to keep a straight face while hearing Biden's BS, I was truly dismayed by the PLA players wielding chairs and whacking the stuffing out of collegiate athletes as well as the crowd launching water bottles and other projectiles at the Hoyas.

If any other country were at the receiving end of such boorishness, it'd have filed a diplomatic protest since there's obviously no place for this sort of thing in sporting competition. Notably, though, this event did not elicit much media coverage or indignation Stateside. With an economy going downhill fast, I suppose there are more important things to worry about. And to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, how do you deal toughly with your bankers when their basketball goons starts beating up your collegiate athletes? From what I can tell, the Hoyas have chosen to grin and bear it. Poor kids.

The irony of it all, of course, was that it was meant to be an exercise in building camaraderie, goodwill, and that sort of thing...
So much for ping-pong diplomacy. In what has been dubbed the “Great Brawl of China” a college basketball team from Georgetown University in Washington got into a chair-throwing fisticuffs session with a Chinese team in Beijing last week.

The “goodwill” exhibition game ended in chaos in the fourth quarter as both benches and a few spectators joined in the fray, forcing the Americans to beat a hasty retreat to their team bus as they were pelted with rubbish and plastic bottles. Unfortunately for vice-president Joe Biden, the dust-up also rather overshadowed his state visit to Beijing last week.

Before they left for China, the Georgetown Hoyas were briefed by the US state department on their roles as ambassador, while their 10-day trip was cited as an example of “sports diplomacy”.
Like many things in life, there is no moral to this story of the Orwellian "China-US Basketball Friendship Match." At worst, US-China tensions that PRC officialdom attempts to conceal tends to unravel when symbols of America become unwitting targets for latent resentment. However, here's a scary scenario for you: While China's gender imbalance has declined for two consecutive years, it remains at a very elevated 118.08 males for every 100 females. Unable to find suitable companionship when their time comes, young men may indeed channel their innate energy into violence. To dissipate some of this energy away from mass protests, the Communist leadership may channel it into jingoistic military adventurism. It's a scary thought, but think of squads of Bayi Rockets as far as the eye can see.

But if they do begin Treasuries in appreciable amounts, I'd probably be glad ;-)

Good fight; good night.