Tennis and badminton struggle for respect


Grabiella Backus, Artistic Editor

Bear Creek offers an extensive range of fun and challenging sports for students to enjoy. Among those, however, tennis and badminton suffer from a seemingly unavoidable stigma: the sports are thought to be played only by Asians, creating an undermining stereotype that leaves players feeling disrespected on campus and insecure with their choice of sport.

To understand the stereotypes assigned to tennis and badminton athletes, one must first consider the origin of Asian stereotypes.

Asian culture is often regarded as more polite and less touch-oriented than Western culture. For example, Westerners shake hands or hug as a greeting, while Asians prefer to bow. European culture celebrates contact, while Asian culture rejects it.

Similarly, tennis and badminton, popular Asian sports at Bear Creek, are non-contact sports, but football and basketball, popular non-Asian sports, are fierce contact sports.

“When you’re Asian, you don’t feel the need to compete as much physically as mentally,” sophomore AJ Buada said. “Asian culture tends to be more sophisticated in terms of manners and attitude. So, usually, American sports consist of rules that don’t really conform with Asians.”

Perhaps more polite Eastern cultures lead to an incorrect conclusion that Asians are weak and feminine in comparison to Westerners. While this is a logical explanation for Asian-dominated sports like tennis and badminton, the cultural differences can have negative outcomes.

“Generally, the students who try out [for tennis] are in the top of their classes academically,” girls tennis coach Gayle Litz said. “I would almost venture to say that it’s a smart student sport. Not only does it take physical fitness and good hand-eye coordination but an active and quick mind to defeat an opponent in tennis.”

Put simply, many high school students don’t have the attention span to sit through an hour-long match. American culture does not hype up tennis or badminton like it does football, soccer, or basketball, so what some perceive as a low-energy sport is not interesting to undedicated Bear Creek students who would normally come out and show support for other sports.

Another factor that may preclude fans from showing support is a lack of funding. The tennis courts were resurfaced in 2016 after 10 years, and the team was not offered new supplies.

“There is nowhere to sit and watch,” Litz said, referring to the courts behind the football field with no bleachers.

Sophomore Diana Barajas, the only non-Asian tennis player and one of the few non-Asian badminton players, is Mexican. Her brother, Daniel Barajas, graduated in 2016 after playing tennis at Bear Creek for four years.

“My teammates are spectacular people that have become a family away from my home,” Barajas said. “I have never felt a divide due to my culture, but I am reminded that there are so many people who could be playing and enjoying this sport, but don’t because they are intimidated by the stereotypes that surround it.”