“Badminton, a real sport? Are you kidding? Badminton is for girls who have no athletic talent but want to be on a team. There is no way that wussy sport is harder than tennis or track.” That’s the usual reaction to badminton. Most people think the game includes ladies wearing petticoats, gently tapping the birdie (shuttlecock) back and forth. The sport is widely depicted as lacking intensity or serious competition. Arguing that badminton is indeed a rigorous sport is futile.
I recently read an article by sports writer Frank Fitzpatrick, who wrote, “Until barbecuing becomes an official sport, there’s little need for lawn games.” In other editorials, he implies that any person could play badminton without breaking a sweat. He also writes that no one attends badminton matches, even at the Olympics.
Professional badminton is in fact one the most exhilarating sports of all time. It is the world’s fastest racket sport with the shuttlecock’s speed topping 200 miles per hour. Most NASCAR racers have trouble attaining that speed! The shuttlecock can be hit to any part of the court and even the most experienced players have trouble seeing it when it travels that fast. Professionals have suffered permanent eye damage and ruptured their Achilles tendons trying to reach the shuttlecock. Obviously, this “backyard sport” is more intense than most realize.
Tennis is considered an extreme sport on a large court. Badminton, played on a much smaller court, is not considered action-filled, though it requires running, jumping, lightning-fast reflexes, and power. In a typical two-game singles match, players will cover almost every inch of the court and travel more than a mile, not to mention hit the birdie 400 times in 20 minutes. Compared to tennis, badminton players compete for half the time, but run twice as far and hit twice as many shots.
Most who judge badminton know little about the game. But, during the 1992 Olympics, 1.1 billion people worldwide watched the badminton competition, most from Asian countries where badminton players are held in high esteem. Won’t you give it a fair shake?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.