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posted on 16 September 2015

China vs. America: Passing the Baton

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Once again, the U.S. men's team was disqualified in the 4x100 meter relay at a major international championship (i.e. 2015 IAAF World Championships Track & Field)! Once again, the reason for failure was the same as numerous times before: botched baton passing (Ashton Eaton's Record Moment for U.S. Is Tempered by Error in 4x100 Relay)!

In contrast, the Chinese team finished second (behind the unbeatable team from Jamaica anchored by the legendary Usain Bolt), the best finish in this event for China, ever!

I watched the race in disbelief, followed with several thoughts ...

1. The U. S. Team

America, as always, put out a strong relay team, this time led by Justin Gatlin who was edged out by Usain Bolt by only 0.01 second in the 100 meter dash a few days before. Overall, the U.S. team was comparable to the Jamaican team, on paper at least, by the sum of the individual times.

Unfortunately, a relay event like this is far more than the sum of the individual times - Baton passing is critically important, often decisively! The U.S. team, over the past decade at least, has been notoriously bad at baton passing. This time was no exception, as shown by the two photos below.

The end result: the U.S. finished “silver” behind Jamaica’s “gold”. As if that was not bad enough, the U.S. team was disqualified a few minutes into the flag-draping celebration on the track! Why? Illegal baton-passing! The final result: the third place finisher China took the silver, displacing the U.S.!

2. The Chinese Team

By comparison, the Chinese team was not impressive at all on paper: none of the four runners broke the 10-second mark individually. But together they finished 38.01 (vs. Jamaica's 37.36), happily dancing on the track afterwards, as shown below.

What's the secret behind China's success? Baton passing, duh! They worked hard on it and won second as a result!

3. Watch it with your own eyes

For the entire story, watch this video:

4. From sports to politics

I believe the running of a country (or a company) is like a relay: one President passes the baton to the next, in order to achieve long-term success!

A good system will ensure that both the Presidents and baton passing are good, while a bad one fails at both!

Fortunately for China, her system appears to be good at both. Two informative readings:

  1. Towards an Ideal Form of Government.
  2. Chinese Presidency: An Earned Kingship for 10 Years.

Unfortunately for America, our system has proven to be failing at both! Let’s briefly discuss American Presidents and baton passing …

5. American Presidential politics

5.1 Presidents as individuals

According to Lawrence Wilkerson, “we have not had an expert in the office since Dwight D. Eisenhower”. For more on Mr. Wilkerson’s insight into American politics, watch the video at the end of the post. Here is my highlight: these three Presidents (shown in the image below) have caused more damage to America than all of American enemies have done, combined! For more, read: American Presidency: Why is One-Term a Must (Version 3)?

5.2 Baton passing

Our system is inherently flawed, because a new President often comes from the other party, due to voter dissatisfaction. So the new President’s first order of business is trying to undo as many of the acts of his predecessor(s) as possible, while making a huge effort to replace all political appointees in order to start anew.

6. Discussion

The analogy between sports and politics can go further. Two points:

  1. 4x100 meter relay: Thanks to our overwhelming individual talents, baton passing was not a big problem for America for many decades until the end of the 20th century, when real competition, especially from Jamaica, showed up. Since then, baton passing has mattered. Not only did our problem show up, we have simply been unable to fix it for some reason. As a result, we have failed, repeatedly and notoriously, for both men (more) and women (less), over the past decade, at least!
  2. Economy and politics: If you replace Jamaica above with China, the same story can be repeated verbatim, in the context of the economy and politics! For more, read: Diagnosis for America (Version 3).

Worse yet for America, not only did China displace America as the second place winner in the 4x100 meter relay at the 2015 World Championship Track & Field, China will displace America as the largest economy on earth by 2025, possibly leaving us far behind after that!

Worst of all, America is either in denial of its own problems or simply incapable to fix them! Meanwhile, our competitors keep becoming better ...

7. Closing

Shall we expect our relay teams to have better results at the Rio 2016 Olympics? Yes! Will they live up to our reasonable expectations? Perhaps not!

That’s the easy part for America!

America, reform our political system as I have suggested (Solution for America (Version 3)), or become an also-ran, second to China!

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