http://www.bazeley.net/mosaic/news/archives/sports/a_changing_sports_field.html a nicely written article. Bintang is one of the local gyms here that i visit frequently... ----------------- A changing sports field By Manu Jain and Ajay Krishnamurthy MOSAIC STAFF WRITERS Sweat dripping from his brow, 16-year-old Chris Chen anxiously waited on the bench for his chance to get into the game. Absent-mindedly taping his aching wrists, Chris stared out onto the court, where his friends and little brother battled. A voice called out to him to quickly get onto the court - he had "next." Chris slowly got up from the bench, wiped off his black basketball shorts - and picked up his badminton racquet and a shuttlecock. Chris, a junior at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, is just one of thousands of Bay Area teens who have turned away from the "all-American" sports of football, baseball and basketball and picked up a new breed of athletics, such as badminton, tennis, soccer and lacrosse. "Nationwide, the two biggest shifts in the last couple decades have been a burning interest in soccer and a flight from baseball," said Kevin Matthews, director for external affairs at the Center for Sport in Society at Northeastern University. The evolving culture of sports mirrors the growing diversity in the Bay Area. "The diversity in the Bay Area strengthens badminton," said Phu Khuu, Saratoga High School's badminton coach. "We have every nationality you can think of." Khuu is the owner of the Bintang Badminton Academy in Mountain View, and he privately trains hundreds of teens interested in playing competitive badminton. Khuu's team recently took home eight medals at the U.S. Junior Nationals in Louisiana. He disputes the notion that badminton is a "soft" sport. "It's easier to play, but it's hard to play at a high level," Khuu said. "You need the gracefulness of ballet but also the strength of a wrestler." Fremont High School junior Terrence Hun said he quit playing basketball because so many of his friends started playing badminton. "I used to play basketball but I lost interest in basketball," he said. But some say the growing interest in sports such as badminton and tennis may come at the expense of more well-established sports. Mission San Jose High School in Fremont was not even able to field a varsity football team in 2002 because of a lack of interest. Monta Vista High School in Cupertino - another school in a very diverse community - has also experienced a decline in participation in its football and baseball programs, as students have opted for other sports. "Most Asians don't play football because their parents don't want them to play," said 17-year old Ravi Dev, a senior at Monta Vista High. "They haven't been brought up playing Caucasian sports." Many student-athletes feel that the flight from traditional high school sports has become a disturbing trend in the Bay Area. "I feel that it's kind of discouraging," said Mission San Jose senior Preston Joyce, who had hoped to play varsity football in 2002. "It'd be nice to have a football team every once in a while." Immigrant parents play a large role in determining what sports their children play. Seventeen-year-old Ankit Dhamija said he was pushed into playing tennis as a child. "I played because my mom made me," said Ankit, who was also interested in playing basketball, but was unable to because he was just "too short." Robert Yee, a 2003 Monta Vista High graduate, was introduced to tennis by his parents. "My dad liked it and thought it would be fun," said Yee, who has been an instructor at the Cupertino Tennis Center for the past three years. Like Ankit, size was also a factor in Yee's decision to play tennis. "If you look at Asians, we're not that big," he said. Matthews, of Northeastern University, said the growth in certain sports will continue to change as the demographic makeup of the Bay Area evolves. "What we're seeing in the Silicon Valley is driven by an immigration trend,'' he said. "There's been a very obvious change due to Asian immigration. They're going to bring their sports along with them." Terry Ward, athletic director of Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose, hasn't seen that happen at his school. Ward says the weakening athletic traditions across the Bay Area - not the changing demographics - are to blame for the turn from traditional high school sports. "Because we have strong tradition, people come in and continue to participate in sports," said Ward of sports at Bellarmine. "We have changed along with the rest of Silicon Valley but our programs remain the same." Bellarmine, however, is an exception in the Bay Area. The prevailing consensus is that the ethnic diversity has changed the face of high school sports forever. "All of the diversity - that's what makes it interesting," said Eric Luescher, Silver Creek High School athletic director. "The more opportunities we give our kids to play non-traditional sports, the better it is."