Apparently the North Korean football team will not be sent to the mines after their 7-0 loss to Portugal. But the Nigerians have been ordered not to play international football for two years although this is apparently to ‘put their house in order’ not as punishment. However it raises the whole question of sporting incentives.
Victors get the glory and the sponsorships. Losers get ….. less glory and sponsorships. Unless you are the Indian cricket team or the Columbian goalkeeper. So are the incentives strong enough for our sporting heroes? Are the marginal incentives between winning and losing enough to get our cricketers, footballers (soccer or rugby – or even the other rugby) and netballers performing optimally on the world stage? Or do we need some punishment for losses? Should we shun our cricketers who have lost the one day series in England or even fine them (or worse!). And what would be the effect of this?
One possibility that comes to mind: perhaps we only use positive incentives for sport to make sure potential sporting heroes have the incentive to practice and try-out for stardom. If we used negative incentives then this would work for our current crop of footballers and cricketers, but not for the next generation. Seeing the losing Australian captain of their favorite sport languishing in gaol or having their house burnt down (or even being burnt in effigy), young Bruce or Sheila may think that sports-stardom is not worth it, and concentrate on other things (like studying) instead. Of course, this may not be a bad thing!