Draft of IBF Letter

Discussion in 'General Forum' started by Loh, Apr 18, 2004.

  1. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Hi All

    It has been quite sometime when we first discussed our intention to send a letter to the IBF detailing our suggestions, ideas and views for improvement to the badminton game. Unfortunately, I have been too distracted by the exciting encounters of the AE, followed by the Korean Open, the Japan Open and my own person pursuits to be able to start drafting the letter earlier. The following draft letter, which is nearing completion, was emailed to kwun for his comments and input. Kwun is currently quite tied up and suggested that we post this letter here for all to see and to give us the necessary feedback and further suggestions. I think we have about one more week to put everything together so that we can mail the final letter to the IBF before the Thomas Cup/Uber Cup tournaments in Jakarta from May 7-16.

    www.badmintonforum.com

    Mr Andrew Ryan
    Chief Operating Officer
    International Badminton Federation
    Manor Park Place
    Rutherford Way
    Cheltenham, GL51 9TU
    United Kingdom


    Dear Mr Ryan

    Our Background

    We are an active worldwide group of badminton fans brought together by our common love for the game to discuss a variety of badminton-related issues through the internet. Our members come from all walks of life, from school children and university undergraduates to working adults from many countries including the USA, Canada, UK, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Russia, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

    From time to time, our forum members express feelings of disappointment at not being able to enjoy world-class badminton on the TV, especially live telecasts, although there has been a regular flow of IBF tournaments throughout the year. Many of our most disappointed members are from the West, in the US, Canada and Europe. They say that badminton is seldom shown on TV and is eclipsed by many other more popular sports such as tennis.

    The lack of TV coverage on badminton is but one of the many issues that our members are not happy about. They are also concerned about the slow development of the game in general, although improvements have been made over the years and more recently on the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup formats to ensure a wider representation among the continents.

    The following are some recent feedback we have obtained from our members. We hope the IBF can address some of these issues and hopefully find solutions to as many of them. As ardent supporters of the badminton game, we will continue to follow future developments closely and trust that the IBF will be able to raise the viewership, profile and stature of world badminton faster than is presently the case.

    Negative Perception of Badminton in the West

    Unlike in most of Asia, somehow badminton is still perceived as a backyard sport by many countries in the West, especially the US, the world’s strongest economy and sporting nation. There is a lack of participation by the US at both the organization and tournament levels and the development of the game there is very slow relative to other sports. American public awareness of badminton is very low indeed and the game is mainly popular among Americans of Asian descent. Can badminton attract many more non-Asian Americans, as is the case with the strong badminton nations in Europe like Denmark, the UK and Germany? When will badminton be at least on par with tennis, which certainly enjoys much more popularity, financial support, sponsorship and bigger prize monies? Tennis attracts more interest and professional players from the West as somehow “success breeds more success”! Therefore there should be more advertising and promotion of the badminton game in the US, in the schools, universities, clubs, community centers and the general public. Professional consultants in sales and marketing, public relations, etc, should be employed to popularize the game there. A detailed survey should be carried out to find out from casual badminton fans and the man in the street to gauge the popularity of the game and what they would like to see on TV.

    It appears that the Americans, as well as many Europeans, are more attracted to power and brawn in sports like basketball (NBA), American football (NFL), ice hockey (NHL), soccer (English Premier League or Italian Serial ‘A’) and even tennis. Qualities like speed, agility, technique, finesse and athleticism, which typify a sport like badminton, seem secondary. Even a sport like “Fishing” appears to be more popular and occupies more TV time than badminton. How can the IBF overcome this negative perception and bias? Denmark has shown that it can make the badminton game attractive to the public. Perhaps we can learn from Denmark? We are aware of the fact that the USA will be represented at the forthcoming Thomas Cup in Jakarta, but its players are mainly of Asian origin and their standards are relative low compared with the top badminton nations like China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Denmark.

    Therefore, we feel it is important to involve the world’s most powerful nation, the US, in all aspects at the highest possible level and to tap on its huge resources and expertise in marketing, promotion, public relations, sponsorship and the mass media. Big and successful US corporations should be courted for their financial support and sponsorship. More corporate players should be involved in the badminton scene, other than Yonex, to provide greater variety and experience and to promote the game to an even higher level.

    TV Coverage

    As the TV brings the game to the doorsteps of the audience, we feel this is the most effective means to popularize badminton. This mass-medium can be used to bring out the excitement and colour of the game, the electrifying atmosphere in the stadium created by spectators, players and officials, and the intense competition in skills, fitness and athleticism of the players.

    The recent live telecast of the All England was good and should be used as a benchmark for other IBF Grand Prix events. Hopefully such telecasts are available simultaneously to all badminton fans around the globe. The related electronic website was also informative as it enabled fans to keep in touch with the live scores, particularly if they have no access to the life telecasts. The experience gained at the All England should be shared with other member countries and the IBF can play a pivotal role in this.

    The following are some suggestions by our members on what should be included in TV telecasts:

    · Good quality images, rich in colour and technically of high quality should be maintained.

    · The ‘Route To The Finals’ summary preceding the matches was informative especially to the uninitiated. It will add greater interest if ‘Player Head-To-Head’ and ‘Player Profile’ write-ups are available as well.

    · Statistics. Apart from the above write-ups to introduce the players and make it more interesting to viewers, it is also suggested that statistics, in the form of charts and appealing illustrations, can be used during breaks, on rallies such as winning points resulting from smashes, drops, attacking clears, drives, net plays and diving saves and from good serves; points lost as a result of unforced errors, bad line judgement and there should be a giant illuminated monitor to indicate the speed of the smash, something akin to what was shown for tennis on TV.

    · Close-up shots of players to project details of their facial expressions and stroke executions, on exciting rallies and on coaches talking to their players during breaks are great. There should be translations in English if speakers use their mother tongue. Conversations should be clearly audible. Interviews with players especially during the longer 5-minute break before the rubber game should add more interest. To play back recordings on close line calls and exciting rallies is a good practice.

    · Slow Motion Replays. Some sports on TV use a slow motion repeat of play and try to illustrate and educate viewers on strategies, tactics, movements, etc. But in order to capitalize on this the breaks in between matches should longer.

    · Get an experienced top player who is not playing to give his/her views on the match during the longer break. The use of illustrations such as those employed on TV for golf, snooker and tennis matches should make it more interesting and intelligible to the viewer.

    · Two commentators should be used, instead of only one, preferably a man and a woman, who speak fluent English, who know the players and the game well and can excite the audience. It is better if well-known players who are not playing can be invited to participate in the commentary. Announcers should be cheery, spontaneous and able to engage the spectators and should not sound like dreary newsreaders. Lively contemporary music should be played to warm up the spectators and to prepare them for a series of interesting matches and other activities that lie ahead.

    · Spectator/Audience Participation. The cameras should zoom-in more often on the activities of the cheerleaders and their supporters, their shouts, screams and the noise that they make on a variety of apparatuses and instruments, which should not be banned but encouraged so as to create the right atmosphere, excitement and fanfare. Attendance at such events should be fun-filled and memorable and entice the spectators to want to return for more. The sound systems must be able to project such noises and sounds clearly and effectively..

    · Cheerleaders and Cheer Groups. They are the ones who can ignite the atmosphere and add colour and excitement to the proceedings. Opposing groups in their own colourful team uniforms with logos and their array of noise-making instruments and visual aids, and cheerleaders dressed up as mascots (the Tiger during the Thomas Cup Qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur) or in their traditional outfits (during the Thai Open in Bangkok) should be a permanent feature at IBF events.

    · Lighting. In order to feel the impulse and spontaneity of the cheer groups and the participating spectators, the stalls and spectator galleries should be brightened up. Lighting should not be pale and weak and the courts should not look a sickly shade of green. The lights should make the arena and courts look inviting, interesting and create the right atmosphere so that TV viewers are tempted to stay tuned for much longer periods. Spectators and viewers should be able to follow the shuttle in its flight and the lighting must take all these into account. The spectators, especially the cheer groups, should not be hidden in the background but should be given a chance to come alive every now and then. The spectators at major English Premier League soccer matches is a delight to watch and makes you want to join in the cheering as well because the cameramen are able to create the appropriate interest !

    · Sound. Just as important as visuals to our sense of sight is sound to our sense of hearing. Special sound effects microphones should be strategically located at different heights along the boundaries of the playing court and in the audience to capture expressions of joy and disappointments of the players, the compact and punchy sounds of powerful smashes, drives and clears especially; the players’ heavy breathing, the rustle of their movements, their grunts and other unintelligible expressions, their shouts of anger, defiance and ecstasy; and to project the ‘animal instincts’ in them. Badminton can then no longer be looked upon as a ‘softie’ sport but as one with all the ingredients of raw power and brawn! Without these sound effects, the game remains silent, dull and uninteresting despite all the espressions, movements and actions on the court.

    · To achieve a higher level of technical competence specially for Badminton on TV, perhaps the IBF can organize seminars cum workshops for the top cameramen, sound and lighting experts involved in bringing badminton to the masses. The best professionals in the business can be invited to share their knowledge and experience with one another and sponsorship can be sought from the top camera, sound and lighting companies..

    · IBF should assist the national badminton associations in making badminton matches, especially IBF Grand Prix events, available for showing on TV in their respective countries at the least. It will be fantastic if such matches are shown live all over the world to create and sustain interest in the game.

    Players

    The players are the main actors in badminton. Therefore it is very important how they are being projected on TV to make them appealing to a largely young and active audience - the very target group that badminton tries to attract. One should be mindful of the current tastes, likes and dislikes of the younger generation and try to package and market the game that will interest them. If changes are needed to achieve the desired result, so change we must!

    · Clothing Designs. Yes, now our players wear colourful outfits. But the designs are normally not current and look quite out of fashion. Of course we do have very attractive badminton players but somehow their clothing does not look good on them or fail to project their qualities. We should have better designers to work on badminton outfits to match the most current prevailing fashion. Have a regular design competition to attract the world’s best sportswear designers to design a series of outfits, including hairdos and accessories, for badminton players and officials with specifications to differentiate between the competing teams and countries. Now it appears that Yonex is dominating the badminton fashion scene and there is hardly any other competitor. We look forward to the day when badminton can become a leader and set the pace in fashion sportswear. Then we may find young people donning badminton outfits as a fashion statement and this will indeed be an excellent advertisement for the game!

    · TV Interviews. Pre- and post-match interviews can add greater variety, colour and interest to the game and this should be employed whenever possible. Here we are trying to project the positive side of a player’s personality and charisma and therefore the player should be tutored on how best he can achieve this goal. To be fair to the player, he should not be thrust suddenly into the limelight without preparation especially when the player is not used to public speaking. The player should be given some media exposure like mock interviews on himself and on how to comment on scenarios depicting pre-recorded clips of rallies on a particular match. A good translator should be used whenever necessary. Such preparations will make the player come across as being more animated and natural to the TV viewer and not as boring. Even the coaches can be interviewed for their views.

    · Allow greater flexibility and choice. Not only should there be more choice and freedom on dressing or makeup, the players should also be allowed to project their personalities, charisma and idiosyncrasies, their distinctive characteristics on the badminton court. Many badminton players are too genteel, excessively sticking to polite behaviour and therefore considered by many young viewers to be boring. They lack personality. We feel that the IBF and the National Badminton Associations should relax the rules on behaviour and not show the yellow or red card too hastily to curb players’ reactions and instincts. They should allow the personalities of the players to shine through and make the matches more interesting. Badminton players need not necessary take on the bad boy image like MacEnroe in tennis or the loud mouth talker like Mohammed Ali in boxing, but a diluted version is not too bad for badminton for these are the characters that make their sports famous. Of course, if we can produce someone like Pele, the world ambassador for soccer, it will be excellent!

    · However, we were quite delighted to see badminton superstars like Lin Dan and Xia Xuanze of China being allowed to display their antics and personalities without punishment. In his match against Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia during the Thomas Cup Qualifiers Finals in Kuala Lumpur, Lin Dan really pleased the crowd when he was full of acrobatics executing his diving saves and throwing a few tantrums and his racket on the court, yet he was not penalized by the very understanding umpire. At the end of the match, he saluted Chong Wei for pushing him hard in the three-gamer. This is the kind of stuff that makes things more interesting. But we can’t say the same for the yellow card controversy that the lady umpire imposed on the Malaysian doubles pair during the All England Finals! The yellow card has dashed all the excitement that has been created before this. Viewers are also quite excited when they watch Camilla Martin play as she is normally quite harsh on herself for her unforced errors and yell out expletives! And also the ever-smiling face of Gao Ling is a pleasant sight! Yes we should allow the players some leeway to express themselves to make the badminton game more exciting!


    ·






    Sincerely



    On behalf of
    BadmintonForum.com

    cc IBF Council Members (by email)


    This letter seems lengthy but we just can't omit the many good suggestions from our BFers.
     
  2. reaper

    reaper Regular Member

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    Maybe before a semi-final or a final, when the player(s) comes out, they should have some kind of theme song of their choosing, that would be soooo cool. Kind of like boxing or wrestling, really kicks up the atmosphere.

    Imagine Lin Dan coming to the court with a theme of some chinese rap group and Peter Gade coming onto the court to face Lin Dan, but coming with some rock band music, that would be sooo killer.

    LOL :p
     
  3. Chia

    Chia Regular Member

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    we should get like a partition or something, were members can post there names and emails maybe. So this letter actually gets read and not deleted.
     
  4. wilfredlgf

    wilfredlgf Regular Member

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    I second this. It will make the mail more credible, with hundreds and hundreds of names. To help verify, we can add our own email addresses for verification. I can see that this mail will be taken more seriously with real people putting in real names.

    I suggest it include:

    1. Name
    2. Country
    3. Email
     
  5. cooler

    cooler Regular Member

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    No need to, one click on badmintonforum.com will tell the reader how many members we got here
     
  6. Dill

    Dill Regular Member

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    Well done Loh!

    In the Commonwealth games the teams came out to music with music played in between the matches, it was better for the crowd but for the TV audience it was not needed as soon as the matches/games were finished they would cut to the adverts or commentators.
     
  7. Bbn

    Bbn Regular Member

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    IBF should take steps to release on video the works of legends in the Hall of Fame for the public to see.

    There are so many films lying in archives that will soon be forgotten eg. the 1975 All England Final between Rudy Hartono and P Gunalan is available only to a few people .

    As for copyright , no one is going to buy these films , only the IBf should do it for posterity or a few interested.
     
  8. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    Loh, I have not gone throught the whole letter in detail.

    At first glance, though it seems very long..almost too long. It must have taken you ages.

    I remember a point from a newspaper article a few years back. I think it was on the failure of the 7 point scoring system. I think it was Mag who put the whole thing into perspective - no research had done on what the users (i.e. players and fans) would think is good. Thus, a lot of resources were wasted.



    I need more time later to examine in detail.
     
  9. ynexfan2003

    ynexfan2003 Regular Member

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    Good effort, Loh; but perhaps it ought to be edited (and compressed) so that all of the message is read with equal attention. It would make the letter seem more formal, and the reader would be able to engage more fully with the main points discussed.
     
    #9 ynexfan2003, Apr 19, 2004
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2004
  10. cappy75

    cappy75 Regular Member

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    I totally second that... if the letter gets too long and cumbersome, the reader's attention might be lost. Some of those suggestions should be summarized. Concision is very important in business correspondance. Perhaps a brief letter summarizing the whole ideas, and then later backed by a more detailed one.

     
  11. Syaoran_Style

    Syaoran_Style Regular Member

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    eeeeeeeeeeehhh!!!!

    don't forget france!!!!!!!!! LoooooL :D
    we are here too =))))
     
  12. - 73* -

    - 73* - Regular Member

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    perhaps they could cut out the commercials in between games??? they're always so long that we miss the beginning of every match...
     
  13. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Thanks, I will include France. :p
     
  14. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Cheung,

    I'll wait for you and also other good suggestion to be incorporated.

    I wonder whether it is OK if we finally email this 'long' letter. There were so many good suggestions from BFers that I found it a waste not to include them. I have thought of shortening the letter but decided that if by doing so it does not convey our views effectively, we would have wasted our time and efforts.

    Of course, one way is to divide the letter into two. The first part essentially to introduce ourselves, ie from "Our Background" to the 4th para where we mentioned our hope that the game will be further improved, ie just before our view on the "Negative Perception of Badminton in the West".

    The second part will contain all our views and suggestions for improvement, and mind you, we have not completely exhausted this area either! :p
     
  15. boji_lazaro

    boji_lazaro Regular Member

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    i agree with the idea that the letter should somehow be summarized a bit so as to retain the reader's attention.
    although this is of a different thread, has anyone suggested the implementation of rally point scoring system in badminton. this is what they have done with volleyball and i wonder if this would make the already intense action in badminton more exciting. just a thought... :rolleyes:
     
  16. woop.

    woop. Regular Member

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    Feel free to drop the cheerleader bit. Are you sure you want that in badminton?
     
  17. dlp

    dlp Regular Member

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    Very good work Loh, if you want suggestions can I suggest the letter could be slightly compressed /refined as follows:

    Para1 : to include /replace "our forums contains over 3000 members, including members from all the continents."
    this would shorten while retaining the information

    The section detailing the backyard perception of the game, the success in Denmark vs US etc, the lack of TV coverage, is perhaps where the letter seens a little over long, you would hope that the chief exec of IBF would be more than aware of these issues anyway.

    The sections detailing the feedback and ideas are very good, they come across as positive rather than critical.
     
  18. Syaoran_Style

    Syaoran_Style Regular Member

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    hahhahaha thanks Loh =)
     
  19. LazyBuddy

    LazyBuddy Regular Member

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    Great job, Loh!!!
     
  20. Psycho V

    Psycho V Regular Member

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    Indeed!

    I'm one of de folks whos really interested to see how the way badminton was played has changed with the times!
     

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