“Badminton? Oh, isn’t that the backyard game with the feathery things and the rackets? Yeah, I play that all the time at family barbeques!”That is almost the exact reaction I get when I tell people I play badminton. However, what these people do not know is that badminton is a legitimate Olympic sport, played beyond the grassy knolls of one’s yard.
With birdies traveling at the speed of 200 mph, badminton is the fastest racket sport in the world. Although it is not popular in the United States, it is the most popular sport worldwide after soccer, with its best international players predominately in Asia and parts of Europe. The sport is similar to tennis, where games can be played between double teams, mixed doubles teams and singles. Instead of a ball, a shuttlecock, or a birdie, is used. And unlike the common misconception that badminton is usually played outdoors, professional badminton is always played indoors to ensure that no external factors affect the aerodynamics of the shot.
Another misconception is that badminton is a feminine activity, requiring little or no strength. However, if you give it a try, you will soon discover how very wrong this assumption is. Badminton is a sport that requires agility, speed, quick reflexes, stamina and strength. In order to get a shot to travel at 200 mph, building up power is essential. It works out one’s entire back, legs, arms and mentality. It is no less tiring nor is it wimpier than tennis or baseball.
That being said, Cal has one of the best badminton teams in the nation. Placing first for the past two years in Collegiate Nationals, Cal Badminton is one of the most well known and feared badminton teams around. Many of the badminton players who enter Berkeley have been competing in prominent tournaments since they were as young as seven years old.
Junior Terrence Pang shares, “I’ve been playing badminton, I think, since I was 10. So about 10 years now. I have represented the United States in Panamerican games in Mexico and Puerto Rico.” Beckie Neumann, also a junior, adds, “One of the main reasons why I chose to attend Cal was because I wanted a college that will allow me to continue to play. Berkeley has one of the best teams around, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Badminton is the fastest growing high school sport in the nation. Many students only play at their school, so when they enter college without a badminton team, they have no choice but to quit. Cal Badminton welcomes high school players, as well as people who are discovering the sport for the first time.
Junior Thomas Go says, “I started playing badminton two years ago as a freshman. I joined initially because I wanted to meet new people, but as I continued to play, the sport is what kept me in the club.” So not only does the club consist of the greatest Junior National players in the nation, it also is balanced out by the newest players.
With all the sports available at Cal, it’s hard to make a decision about which club to join. But take a deeper look — you might be surprised at what you find.