Tripping

Just so you know, my friend Lisa is traveling through China at the moment and doing an amazing job documenting her trip in words and pictures. Go to Paper Tiger Tail and keep scrolling. Beautiful writing, beautiful trip.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

On the American Basketball League the NBA

When I was in middle school, I often played basketball. But my skills were very low. So after I reached 30 years old, I stopped playing. When I was in the Army, I also played a lot of basketball, often with my cadres and mates. We’d often play after dinner, then get very sweaty, and go take a shower together and go to bed.

But strangely, I never experienced any serious injury from the playing. And I have never seen others seriously get injured. Of course, there were minor injuries, like a skin abrasion, etc. But never a big injury that would cause me to go to hospital or walk on crutch.

In fact, from my childhood to today, I have only seen two serious injuries of others. And both were classmates in grade school. One was climbing a tree to hit a beehive, and he fell accidentally and broke his arm. The other was fallen from the top of a garbage can and broke his leg. Those are the 2 only two incidents of serious injury I witnesses in my entire life. When I was playing basketball with my Army mates, they were all very strong and tough men, yet I’ve never seen any of them get injured during the game.

Now, if you look at NBA players, it seems everyone gets injured all the time. legs broken, arm broken, ribs broken, etc. and each injury would cause them to be unable to play for several months, so clearly very serious injuries.

When I was playing basketball with my Army mates, I considered it an entertainment, a fun, like playing with a toy. According to Chairman Mao at the time, sports is to “increase physical well-being” and “defend the motherland”. Also, it was “friendship first, competition second”. So those are the common attitudes we had towards sports, with this kind of attitude, of course it’s unlikely to get injured.

Then, why do NBA players get injured to often and so violently? Of course you may say “Well there are many blacks in the NBA”. But I don’t think that is the reason at all. In the mind of an NBA player, they don’t have the concepts of “playing sports to increase physical well-being”, “playing sports to defend the motherland”, “friendship first, competition second”. In their minds, playing basketball is to earn money, and the higher your skill is, the more money you’ll get. So, for an NBA player, if during gameplay he encounters this choice in split second: 1) injure your opponent and help you win. 2) Do not injure the opponent and sacrifice your chance to win. In the NBA, of course they’ll choose number 1, that’s their professionalism, their sports instinct. And during an NBA game, the consequence for injuring another player is let the other player shoot the ball two times without defending, or to be “fouled out”. There’s no moral censure for causing injury to another human being, no police involved.

Now, you may say “Without the stimulation of money, basketball skills will never be improved!”. But if you look at the basketball rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union, you’ll see those two teams were always very close in skills and winnings. But did the Soviet players get paid tens of millions a year? Did they have to get injured every week in their own home leagues? Of course they did not. Yet they performed equally well with American players.

Now, you may say “This is the beauty of our NBA system! It is all about competition and efficiency! If you have talent in basketball, you’ll maximize your potential playing in the United states. If you stay under an authoritarian society, you’llwaste your potential. Therefore market economy is better than command economy!”

But for a person like me, I very much dislike efficiency, dislike competition. For example, in this forum, if someone hires me to write 10 posts every day and post here, and keep doing this for 20 years. That of course will maximize my writing potential. But would I like this scenario? I do not. I hate this scenario. I feel I will just become a money earning machine and wasted the more leisurely and beautiful parts of my life.

There’s a famous Japanese Go player called Hideyuki Fujisawa, he was absolutely a world level master in Go. Yet he participated in only 1 to 2 games per year, and declined most cups and “championships. What does he do then? He would enjoy Sake and calligraphy in his home. Isn’t that a much better way?

If I am a famous NBA star like Yao Ming. I will choose to play one game per month only. I reserve the right not to play if I feel like it. Like if one day, I am scheduled to play, but I feel like going to eat in a restaurant with my wife and son, then I’ll say “sorry, I don’t feel like playing tonight, you can use a substitute player on the team”. And I definitely do not want to be traded between teams like a black slave. Today, trading of human beings are illegal in most countries, but in the realm of sports, such trading takes place regularly. Is that not illegal?

December 4, 2009 @ 1:03 am | Comment

My God! Math bot.

December 4, 2009 @ 1:23 am | Comment

Plus Yao Ming’s injuries are directly attributed to his basketball obligations in China.

December 4, 2009 @ 9:02 am | Comment

And Yao Ming’s injuries are directly attributable to his Chinese basketball obligations.

December 4, 2009 @ 9:22 am | Comment

take good care.

December 4, 2009 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

Richard,

Do you know what ad I just saw on your website?

An ad for Sarah Palin’s book.

December 5, 2009 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

Hi Hexi.

Serve, I can’t control the ads.

December 5, 2009 @ 11:22 pm | Comment

Maybe that flurry of post about Mrs Palin attracted those ads. So much interest about her… definitely worth a try selling a book about here… These ad placing systems are not too smart yet.

December 6, 2009 @ 5:45 am | Comment

OT, but Richard, I sure hope this guy isn`t an ex-stable mate of yours:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2009-12/04/content_9117284.htm

The homophobia in the piece is especially repulsive.

December 7, 2009 @ 10:35 am | Comment

@merp: Remind me again, in the end of 2008, there was a dramatic decline in US private consumption. Did this have any effect on China’s Q1/09 GDP?

Based on your theory, it didn’t.

December 7, 2009 @ 11:07 am | Comment

^^ wrong thread…. delete.

December 7, 2009 @ 12:21 pm | Comment

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