Badminton: not for the weak

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Helen Le, Sports Editor

The badminton banner hangs in the gymnasium attached to one of the longest lists of years to indicate victorious seasons. Just because the team wins a lot, though, does not mean that their victories are empty or easy.

Most students, including other athletes, probably do not consider the skill and endurance necessary to the sport. Contrary to that opinion, badminton requires a high level of physical exertion at every practice.

Normal practice consists of running at least a mile, stretching, bleacher circuits and exercises for agility, footwork, drills and actual gameplay.
“It’s pretty difficult for people who haven’t played before,” senior Jasmin Tran said. “You need to have a lot of hand-eye coordination.”

Even with all the demands of the sport, some badminton players affirm that the sport does not receive the respect it deserves, especially compared to other sports.

“I don’t think the sport gets enough respect because people assume it’s so easy and simple to hit the birdie back and forth when, really, there’s more work being done,” junior Natalie Vang said.

Underestimation of badminton may come from the history of the sport itself. The sport has only recently become an Olympic sport despite records of battledore and shuttlecock, an informal predecessor to badminton, being played at least 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece, China and India.

The International Badminton Federation was formed in 1934 by nine countries including England, Scotland, Denmark, and Canada; today it is known as the Badminton World Federation. The sport was demonstrated in the Olympics in 1972 and became officially recognized in 1992. Competition is now dominated by Denmark in Europe and Asian nations internationally. With the U.S.’s lack of championship titles, the sport may be considered less competitive here.

Badminton is a fast sport, as demonstrated by the speed of the shuttlecock. With smash records being continually broken, the birdie has been recorded as the fastest object in sports. The Guinness World Record in competition stands at 253 miles per hour in 2015 by Lee Chong Wei.

Accordingly, there is no surprise when athletes unfamiliar with badminton may first struggle with the sport.

“It’s hard to learn if you’ve never [played] a racket sport before,” Tran said.

Students who are considering trying out for a racket sport without previous experience are advised to take certain aspects of their own personality into consideration.

“You’ve got to have a lot of patience,” junior Angela Lu said.

Players also stress the amount of cardiovascular exercise required during practice, which may surprise newcomers.

“[Badminton] is a lot more running than you think,” Vang said.

Despite the challenges within the sport for potential athletes, badminton players encourage other students to join the team, too.

“Try it out,” senior Nathan Vang said. “It’s a lot harder than it looks, and it’s really fun.”