Badminton Life

Chattanooga Badminton Aces Lament Lack of Enthusiasm

The United States public may not know much about badminton but there are a group of people who are hoping to raise awareness of the game in the country.

The Americans will be represented by five badminton players at the Beijing Olympics next month, although most fans in the country probably have no idea who they are, or even if there is a badminton competition in Beijing.

Kelly Price, facility manager of the Frances B. Wyatt Recreation Centerin Chattanooga, said most Americans don't realise that the sport can be exciting to watch.

"The problem in the United States is that badminton is never seen as a regulation sport, and it's never shown on TV," she told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "We Americans know it as a backyard activity of hitting a birdie back and forth. But it really is an intense, fast-paced sport."

Badminton made its debut as the Olympic sport at the 1992 Barcelona Games. It has since been dominated by players from Indonesia and China.

"I'm willing to give lessons to people of all ages," said Price. "In fact, I have a seven-year-old home-schooler who can swing a mean racket. She can really hit a birdie. I've been teaching her since she was four."

Badminton's failure to spark the interest of the American public at large is something that puzzles some folks in Chattanooga, especially the veterans, who remember it as a popular sport many moons ago.

Paul McKinney, a 75-year-old badminton fan, won his age division as a 16-year-old and he remembers the old days when everyone loved badminton.

"Everyone played badminton back then," he said. "But if you want to be a competitor, you have to start young. I started playing when I was seven at the East Lake Courts Community Center. Back then, if you didn't play badminton, you didn't do anything."

Price said it was up to parents to encourage their kids to take up the sport. Badminton is known as one of the fastest sports in the world. Studies by sports scientist reveal that the fitness requirements for badminton are second only to boxing and beat all other sports.

She said: "When I started working with the city's recreation department 18 years ago, the directors told me how popular badminton used to be in Chattanooga.

"They said that on a Saturday morning, you couldn't get into the centers because so many children would be lined up to play badminton. Many of these kids continued playing as adults but, for whatever reason, their kids didn't play."

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