Do you know who Michelle Li is?
She’s the number one ranked women’s badminton player in Canada and 25th in the world. She won gold at the Pan American games. Does this ring a bell to anyone?
Well, if you’d actually watched the games you may know. Of course, when else would you be able to watch badminton on TV.
I mention this because it’s truly fascinating that you can walk into the Collicutt Centre field house on any given night and you will find at least three courts filled with badminton players. Red Deer is like badminton central. The sport is very popular here. Anthony Davidson, from the Collicutt Centre and who is originally from Ottawa, agrees.
“When I moved out here to Alberta I noticed everyone plays badminton — youths, adults. With the adults it’s funny because when they come in and they see how big badminton is, they’ll try it out.”
This sport is a part of our curriculum. Most of us had to take it. Yet you can’t find a match on TV. Why isn’t it more popular a sport?
It’s not the rules of the sport. They’re quite simple. You play, rally, serve to 21, or point serve to 15. A singles badminton court is long and narrow. A doubles court is short and wide. Service has to be under your waist and you can’t smash the net on a point or you lose that point or serve. (Yes, there’s more to it than that, but those are some basics).
So if the rules aren’t the issue what stops this sport from dominating our airwaves? Certainly not the cost, all you need is shoes, shorts, a shirt, a birdie and a racquet.
“The racquets, they’re quite expensive.” Really? The same ones you can borrow for free for drop-in? “Racquets can range from $150 to $500.”
Racquets that cost $500 are a little out of the average Red Deerian’s price range, but free rental racquets are available. Add the price of admission, and you can play badminton at Collicutt most nights until 9 p.m. for kids under 16, and 10:30 p.m. for adults. (Check the web site for exact times).
And you don’t have to worry about drop-in badminton being shut down, because it’s simply the most popular sport at the Collicutt Centre over basketball, tennis, floor hockey, volleyball — you name it.
So why not get yourself a racquet, if not to make badminton the most popular sport in Canada, maybe just do it so you don’t feel left out.