INQUIRER SPORTS WRITER, FITZPATRICK DROPS THE BALL!
Eric B. Miller
Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research
Prior to September 11th, it used to be that there was only one unforgivable sin for a sports writer: not doing your homework. Since the fateful attacks, we have had to add one more credo: be aware of what's going on in the world!
With little hope for a hit, sports writer, Frank Fitzpatrick stands at the plate with two strikes down. For some unknown reason, it appears that Mr. Fitzpatrick has a personal vendetta against the world's fastest racquet sport: Badminton. In September of 2000, though "baffled by badminton", Fitzpatrick slammed the sport in and around a few badminton facts that were obviously lifted from the"did you know " web page, hosted by the IBF (International Badminton Federation) . Fitzpatrick failed to research any further, or even bother observing much badminton for himself. He is correct however, that Badminton is extremely popular in China, Indonesia and Malaysia, where crowds of 15,000 are not uncommon for big matches. Now he proposes to drop badminton from the Olympics! Frankly, I'm baffled by badmouthing!
In the first place, Fitzpatrick gave the impression that badminton was not attended at the Olympics, when by the end of the very competition he described, the stands filled to nearly two thirds capacity. He completely neglected to mention that during the first week of the summer Olympics, badminton was the number 1 most viewed sport on television, or that in 1992, 1.1 billion viewers around the globe watched the eight-day inaugural badminton competition on television. Yes, BILLION! This statistic is even more impressive since Badminton was not aired in the United States. In fact the U.S. Badminton Association contributes only 2700 players towards the 14 million members of the 140 nation associations belonging to the IBF. Fitzpatrick thumbs his nose at the millions of Indonesian, Chinese, Malaysian, Brittish, Danish and Irish players for whom badminton has no relationship with beer and picnics. The sport is widely played and beloved in many countries outside the U.S. and is second only to soccer in worldwide popularity.
To underscore that Fitzpatricks' only badminton experience is from picnics, he mistakenly tells readers that the shuttlecock has a "rubber point", when even the most novice club member, or high school student player could tell you it is made of cork.
Even more outrageous, are his charges that although the badminton smash may reach a velocity of nearly 200 mph, almost anyone e.g. Tommy Lasorda, can return it, and that almost all shots are returnable! This is purely Frank's fantasy! A blistering badminton smash traveling at even a measly 160 mph is most difficult to return.
In an analysis of top world tennis versus badminton finals, the badminton players competed for half the time, yet ran twice as far and hit nearly twice as many shots. When Boris Becker defeated Kevin Curren 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 at the 1985 All England Tennis Championships, the match lasted 3 hours and 18 minutes, however the ball was only in play for 18 minutes. In comparison, at the 1985 World Badminton Championships in Calgary, Canada, when Han Jian of China defeated Morten Frost of Denmark, 14-18, 15-10, 15-8, the match last 1 hour and 16 minutes, however the shuttle was in play for 37 minutes! A calculation of Match Intensity (the actual time the ball/shuttle was in flight, divided by the length of the match) reveals: Tennis =9% vs. Badminton =48%. This shows Badminton to be about 5 times more intense than Tennis!
It's time for Frank's fantasy to come to an end. To prove my point, I will offer to put up Frank's entry fee to compete in the upcoming Mid-Atlantic Badminton classic on March 1st -3rd in Trooper, PA. If he can win any of the two thousand dollar prize money, he can keep it, but if he can't score 1 point per game, I will be happy to accept reimbursement for the entry fee by check, Mastercard, or Paypal! I would be thrilled to see this sports writer accept my challenge and put his racquet where his mouth is. Here comes the pitch, now let's watch Fitzpatrick swing.
Eric Miller is a certified biofeedback practitioner, graduate student at the Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and director of the Phoenixville Badminton Club.