A racket, a serve and over a century of history

Intramural sports may promote physical activity and student engagement on college campuses, but their introduction also carries on the history of sports like badminton.

The sport originates from battledore and shuttlecock, a game that resembles one in ancient Greek drawings. A more modern version of the game appeared in British-colonized India as Poona. In 1873, the Duke of Beaufort brought the game to his estate, the Badminton House, to entertain guests.

The Bath Badminton Club composed the first set of written rules for the sport in 1877, and the creation of the Badminton Association of England followed in 1893. Six years later, the first badminton All England Championships were held in London.

The world stage picked up badminton as it entered the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany as a demonstration sport, and it became an official Olympic sport at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The addition of the mixed doubles event in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympic Games set the number of Olympic badminton events. Alongside tennis and curling, badminton is one of the few Olympic events with mixed doubles.

Recently, Recreational Sports and Wellness brought the sport to campus.

“Badminton is a fast-paced sport that can consist of single or doubles teams,” explained Jason Templet, coordinator of competitive sports. “Once you are taught the rules, it is a lot of fun to play and even an Olympic sport. Lots of schools around the country offer badminton as an intramural sport.”

The racket sport involves hitting a shuttlecock, or birdie, across a net usually in singles or doubles matches. A match is played to a best of three games where 21 points wins a set. Although badminton may resemble tennis, distinctions exist in technique and details such as racket size.

According to an article by Bill Clement, an ESPN analyst, badminton is the second most popular participatory sport in the world. Templet discussed the popularity of the activity.

“It is a lot of fun and requires good hand-eye coordination,” shared Templet. “Some of the Olympic matches are really intense with diving saves and jump spikes.”

Since 1873, badminton organizations and tournaments developed around the world. The Badminton World Federation was founded in 1934 while the Southern Badminton Association was organized in 1938. The Badminton Players Federation found its start in 1972. Regions possess their own associations including India, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

By the BWF calendar, 195 badminton tournaments are scheduled this year around the world. The 2019 BWF World Championships will be held from Aug. 19-25. The Southern Open Championships in the United States date back to the 1930s with last season’s tournament taking place in August in Orlando, Florida. Badminton championships also include the Thomas Cup founded in 1949, the Uber  Cup founded in 1957 and the Sudirman Cup founded in 1989.

A doubles badminton tournament at the Pennington Student Activity Center is scheduled for Feb. 13 at 5:30 p.m.

“Badminton has recently become an intramural sport here at Southeastern about one year ago,” said Templet. “In the fall semester, we hosted a singles badminton tournament, and in the spring, we are doing a doubles tournament.”

Though some have taken up the sport on campus, Templet hopes to see its popularity grow.

“Everyone should give badminton a try,” stated Templet. “Anyone can learn to play and have fun whether you’re a beginner or an expert.”