Good story on badminton

Discussion in 'All England 2004' started by jamesd20, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. jamesd20

    jamesd20 Moderator

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    http://search.thetimes.co.uk/cgi-bin/ezk2srch?-aSTART#

    Read "sustained torture with art and grace" or any other sories you might like to.

    I only found our about this cause my landlord reads the paper, knows I am crazy for badminton, and kept the story for me.

    I also think Possibly, with China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and to lesser extent Korea and Japan developing may increase the actual money in the sport. eg in football, one reason why it is so popular is that in europe the developed countries want exposure, and the companies from there pay big bucks to get it. Maybe in 20 years we will see the same thing in badminton. I hope so, but it may be to the detriment of the world wide game.

    (if it says there is a problem with the server search for badminton, and a story titled "sustained torture with art and grace")
     
  2. cooler

    cooler Regular Member

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    can u cut and paste it here?
     
  3. jamesd20

    jamesd20 Moderator

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    March 12, 2004

    Sustained torture with art and grace
    By Matthew Syed
    It is easy to be transfixed by the poetic grandeur at the NIA, but the sport’s beauty comes at a price



    IF THERE were any justice in the world, Robert Blair and Natalie Munt would be on the back page of every newspaper today, having progressed into the mixed doubles quarterfinals of the All-England Badminton Championships at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham. The competition is referred to as the Wimbledon of Badminton. It should be Wimbledon that is called the All England of Tennis.
    For badminton is a prince among sports, a gem cruelly overlooked in our oligarchic sporting culture. Knocked out of my own event, I inadvertently walked in to the badminton arena at the Olympic Games in Sydney and stayed until I flew home three days later, transfixed by its poetic grandeur. It has art, athleticism and more attitude than a rap artist.



    And its geometry is unique. Practitioners not only fence for supremacy using the classic racket-sport dimensions of width and depth, but in the blink of an eye can send the shuttlecock heavenward like a firework, buying precious moments in which to regain the centre of the court.

    The most captivating aspect, however, lies in the timing of the overhead forehand — that infinitesimal pause before impact in which the most diabolical of sporting deceptions is enacted. All players deploy it to a greater or lesser extent; all leap to the back of the court with the speed of a gazelle before making a mockery of their haste with that momentary hesitation.

    This is not a case of mere exhibitionism; rather, the highest art of the game, the difference between taking control and thrashing around the court like a drowning kitten. For in that pause, with the back arched and the playing arm coiled like a spring, the great player sizes up his opponent, sizes up the court and does what nobody expected.

    With the faintest adjustment in the trajectory of the racket-head, the shuttlecock can be sent skyward (clear), tight over the net (drop-shot) or into the opponent’s gut (smash). You can spend a lifetime in the sport and still be deceived by that dastardly and wondrous pause.

    But badminton is like plastic surgery: its beauty comes at a price. No sport places such multifaceted demands upon the human body — the repetitive lunging and leaping had my quadriceps cramping in sympathy as I watched yesterday. Squash is gruelling, but an evenly matched badminton contest is sustained torture.

    And what do the players have to show for it? A smidgin of coverage on the BBC and a few hours on Sky Sports. But to describe badminton as sport’s best-kept secret engenders a sharp rebuttal from insiders who will tell you that it is far from a secret within its heartland of Asia — it is among the top five sports in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea (combined population 1.6 billion).

    According to Andrew Ryan, the chief operating officer of the International Badminton Federation, the sport is making a good fist of exploiting the commercial value associated with such mass enthusiasm, despite a grossly unattractive scoring system that survived recent experimentation.

    “The IBF secured 45 hours of live coverage on China terrestrial television for the Thomas and Uber Cups (badminton’s most prestigious team competitions) in 2002,” he said. “We also generated $1,000,000 (about £630,000) of commercial revenues, in addition to $750,000 from the sale of television rights.”

    Not that the players see any of it — there is no prize- money on offer at any of the IBF controlled competitions, which include the World Championships, although Ryan said that plans are afoot to rectify this. While the grand prix competitions, of which the All-England is the most prestigious, do offer prize- money, it is divided almost equally among five events (unlike in other racket sports the three doubles events vie with the individual events for top billing), with the net result that players earn a pittance. Outside the top few, players depend upon part-time jobs or government subsidies to pursue their sport. Sara Persson, the world No 38 from Sweden, earns only £4,000 per year from badminton, far less than her equivalent in table tennis.

    The stark contrast between badminton’s popularity in Asia compared with the rest of the world has left the ruling council with an agonising choice, symbolised by the internal strife over whether to relocate the IBF headquarters from Cheltenham to Singapore.

    On economic grounds, the move makes sense: the Singapore Government is said to have offered ten years of financial support. But if, as many fear, this were the precursor of a new policy that focuses on the fertile commercial pastures of Asia at the expense of the global integrity of the sport, it would be a disaster.

    Not only would this jeopardise Olympic status, it would eat away inexorably at the sport’s popularity within Asia itself as the already lop-sided world rankings became an Eastern monopoly. As Stephen Baddeley, the chief executive of the Badminton Association of England, put it: “China’s elite will not feel any sense of national glory by winning at a sport that nobody else plays.” In the meantime, it is up to the likes of Blair and Munt to help to spark a revival in the West. They have already upset the seedings in Birmingham by beating the Thai Open champions and now look likely to join England’s top pairing of Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms, who lost yesterday, at the Olympic Games in Athens.

    All the sport needs is a few outings on television to develop an unstoppable momentum: watch it once and you will be a lifelong convert.


    Matthew Syed is the British No 1 and three times Commonwealth table tennis champion.
     
  4. woop.

    woop. Regular Member

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    cheers for that, an interesting read. I think I'll forward it to some of my club colleagues.

    One of the key points for me is how physically demanding the sport is. Often you tell people you play badminton and get a response of "oh, how nice". People really don't appreciate how physcially tough the sport is when you play competitively.
     
  5. jamesd20

    jamesd20 Moderator

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    I know, I had a beginner at one of my clubs say to me the other day. "badmintons fun, but its not a very athletic sport is it" so I lent him a dvd with sigit playing!! Will see what he says after that.
     
  6. seven

    seven New Member

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    that's surprising... in France, every time I tell someone I play badminton, the reaction will be the same : "oh, that's a tough physical sport!"

    it seems like the image of badminton varies a lot between countries...
     
  7. hcyong

    hcyong Regular Member

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    This Matthew Syed guy also wrote a piece about squash some time back. He mentioned that it was a dying sport and such and such. He got buried by the squash circle.

    I don't agree with what he said about the Eastern domination, and also what Baddeley said about no one else playing the game. The West (except Denmark) have lost control of badminton for a long time already. Yet the sport is well and alive. How about table tennis? Sure, there are some token players from Europe, but who would win all the gold medals in the Olympics. Yet table tennis is alive and kicking as well.

    I find the European paranoia a bit disturbing. Always finding ways to curb the rise of the East. Changing rules of the sport, like in table tennis and also badminton. How about tennis? Why isn't the ruling body concerned that the Asians do not seem to play it very well?
     
  8. Rohly

    Rohly Regular Member

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    i think that it is very good that a sports person outside of badminton has acknowledged how difficult the sport really is.
     
  9. cooler

    cooler Regular Member

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    I play badminton not because it is easy but because it is hard - Cooler
     

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