Article by: Lucas DV.
Edited by: Justin S.
Graphic by: Sandra R.
Michelle B. from the class of ‘85 can recall the days when “every student had a badminton racquet at home” and “the most common hangout spots were the courts”. Those glory days are far gone. Participation rates in the sport have dwindled at alarming rates since then. ISM may have won IASAS badminton in 2017, but it seems like the memories of that success left last year with the graduation of Aqila R. (‘18), Bryan T. (‘18), and YuYang W. (18’), who were the last remaining members of that golden team. In the broader Philippine community as well, badminton does not have the popularity of other sports like basketball or soccer, even though the national badminton team has had significant success. While one can easily find a basketball court or soccer field in most districts in Manila, badminton halls are much harder to come across. In terms of media coverage and online popularity, badminton is also far down in the rankings. Due to the lack of accessibility and exposure to the sport, it is no wonder that the Bearcat community has lost touch with it, allowing many misconceptions to come about and shroud the sport’s image.
The most common of these myths would have to be about the level of difficulty. On why a lot of people think it’s a fluff sport, varsity shuttler Marco Y. comments, “Obviously the badminton court is much smaller than those of other net sports like tennis and volleyball, so people might think that not a lot of movement is required-especially tennis players”. Varsity tennis player Jahaan S. confirms Marco’s claim, saying “Badminton is really, really easy. The court’s so small, and I’m so fast, so it really isn’t a challenge”. He also adds that, from his experiences with badminton in PE, he feels that “the racquet and the projectile are very light, so it’s pretty easy to hit.”
Marco Y. perfectly explains why badminton is not easy at all: “What many people don’t realize is that the shuttlecock is the one of the fastest flying projectile in all of sports.” This statement is completely accurate. In the professional arena, shuttlecocks have reached speeds of up to 417km/h. To put that in perspective, the fastest tennis serve ever recorded only clocks in at 263.4km/h. The shuttle’s lethal speed is the reason why having such a small court actually makes the game harder, not easier. Since the shuttle is so fast and only needs to travel a short distance over the net to the opponent’s court, badminton players need to have insanely short reaction times, excellent lateral quickness, and very quick thinking if they want to have a chance at returning the shuttle. In other net games like tennis where the ball is slower and travels a much farther distance from racket to racket, players have a lot more time to adjust their position and think about where they can place their shot.
Varsity shuttler Keitaro H. explains reason another reason why badminton is so hard: “The shuttlecock is so versatile and so deceptive. It can be smashed at such fast speeds, but it can also just be touched over the net in any direction.” The badminton stroke is much smaller and much faster than other sports since it relies so heavily on the wrist, and experienced shuttlers can perform a smash or a drop shot with the same wrist and arm movements. So, while volleyball players and tennis players can predict the direction of the ball based on their opponent’s obvious preparations, badminton players usually don’t have a clue where the shuttle will go.
While the facts may make badminton seem like an impossible sport, all true shuttlers know, deep in their hearts, that the difficulty is what makes the game enjoyable.