Badminton the Future – Billy Backhand V Sammy Smash

Posted: August 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Belgian Professionalism

Now that the dust is has started to settle on what was probably one of the greatest Olympic Games in history, global thoughts immediately turn to ‘making hay while the sun shines’ in all Olympic sports.

The negative attention that badminton received during the games was, at the time, difficult to stomach but since returning home my opinion on the matter has changed and I can now grasp the concept of there is no such thing as bad publicity.

All I am asked about since I came home are the incidents of the match manipulation that I witnessed firsthand. Of course I am happy to talk about and discuss what went on in Wembley as it is important to do so but I soon realised that I could also use the opportunity to promote the sport on the back of these discussions.

Under normal circumstances I would never get asked about badminton at home so in some weird way it has been refreshing to discuss what happened and to use the opportunity to explain all the good things about the game.

In a strange twist of fate the happenings in London has somehow enhanced the image of the sport.  Let’s not forget that in Europe especially Badminton had gained the reputation as being a sport for people who don’t play real sport (the words of a friend of mine that made me giggle). Not anymore, suddenly now people see badminton as a sport with ‘balls’, a sport where people will do anything to win. All of a sudden the sport has gained a ‘bad boy’ reputation and no matter what way we look at it a ‘bad boy’ always gets attention.

So what can we do now to piggyback off this new found global interest?  It is my personal opinion that the game does need to adapt to make it more TV friendly and to reach out to a new audience. This is of course easier said than done and there are no quick fixes.

But there are some small changes that I think we can introduce to maybe make the sport more spectator friendly. Many complain about the new rally point scoring system, I was one of those initially. Over time I have come to like the new system but I do think it needs some tweaking.

Schools Schools Schools

For me personally sport should build to a climactical conclusion. So many great badminton matches have been ruined by a serve into the net handing the match win to an opponent. This is such an anti climax in my opinion. A simple solution to this is to add a ‘you must have serve to win a game’ rule.

Picture the scenario, Billy Backhand is leading 20-17 in the third game and his opponent Sammy Smash has serve. Sammy is feeling the pressure and serves into the net but under the new rule (MP001) Billy does not win the match but instead receives serve back. OK the purists will be getting sick into their shuttle tubes at the very thought but this does serve, excuse the pun, to build the excitement and Billy’s reward is he now has the opportunity to serve for the match.

In a situation like this the tension and excitement builds with each rally. The guy behind always has the chance to come back and more importantly the match will end, more times than not, in an exciting and engaging way for the public.

Added to this I would also like to see number of games in a match change from 3 sets to 21 to maybe 5 sets to 11. This again will always give the underdog the opportunity to come back and heighten the excitement for the paying public.

We also, in my opinion, need to direct more of our attention to schools rather than clubs. I am not sure of how the system works in your region but here in Ireland and many countries around Europe the club system is king. Of course clubs are so important but with clubs all you tend to nurture is like minded badminton people. We need to get out into the schools more and introduce badminton to those who have never seen or heard about the sport. Get the kids playing in school then in time they will automatically drift towards a club anyway.

Here is an interesting statistic for you. In Ireland 98% of all schools have badminton courts. From my own loose research over the past 5 years 80 of these courts are never used. The markings on the floor just came as standard markings when the gym or hall was initially constructed. Sounds depressing I know but on a positive note, these schools have courts now let’s get the kids using them!

TV lights set the mood

The BWF will obviously have its hands full over the coming months dealing with the fallout from London and there are so many issues that they will class as higher priority which I can fully understand. To the BWF’s credit they have introduced new and exciting initiatives such as ‘shuttle time’ in the past year and their presentation of all the top tournaments on their streaming channel I have to say is first class. Just the way the tournaments are presented with a global consistency is so professional and vitally important. We must continue with this presentation of the game at the highest level.

If we are going to make big investments in online streaming the first thing to make sure is that the courts being streamed are set up professionally. If it s not then all the technical investment amounts to nothing.

I know that next month at the Belgian International, arguably Europe’s most professional tour tournament, Badminton Europe will hold a ‘tournament organisers’ conference. The purpose of the conference is to get all tournament organisers together from around Europe to discuss the process’s involved in organising tournaments and to move this process to a more professional era to coincide with the development of BEtv. Again the guys in Badminton Europe have to be applauded for this as every time an event is streamed a potential viewer will either stay tuned or just turn off depending on what they see.

There are many things we can do and I know so many will scorn my suggestions and that is fine. The one thing I hope that will not happen is that come Rio in 4 years we are not sitting here in a quagmire of ‘what ifs’ with insignificant rules being introduced to fix political sporting problems within the game of badminton.

We have a unique opportunity to showcase our sport after London and I hope that the powers that be seize this opportunity to run with good ideas and listen to even the bad ideas. This will show inclusion and openness that I feel our game needs.

Roll on Rio


(All opinions expressed in the article are purely personal and form no part of any organisation or society)


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