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Better dress code and turtles
could make badminton a better sport

09/11/08

Kari: Kevin, I have a concern - a tardy concern - and that is Olympic Badminton.

Kevin: I am frightened by the potential consequences of this column on the minds of many, Kari.

Kari:
There are just some items to be addressed about this - at least in my mind. Like the fact that Badminton is even an Olympic sport.

And there’s even more. I would have mentioned it sooner but I’ve been on the internet since the Olympics ended trying to find out about the USA Olympic Badminton team, but the last word I’ve found was prior to 1998. While I did not see the USA play a match in Beijing, I did catch a game between Finland and another country like Latvia. It was disturbing.

Kevin: I didn’t think Latvia was even big enough to house a badminton court, so there’s something new for me to soak in. I will admit to watching a few minutes of badminton during the Olympics, which is inevitable when you are channel surfing 19 hours a day through the coverage. Aside from badminton, I thought table tennis was the other “stretch” far as being Olympic-worthy. Guess those competitors are better skilled then, say, softball, which is being killed off.

One thing that disturbed me was all the features on ping pong. The Chinese love the sport, they say. But there are a billion Chinese out there. It wouldn’t be too hard to find a handful of Chinese ping pong enthusiasts with those numbers. I bet you could even round up a stadium full of Chinese who love Nascar.

Kari: To address all of your points would take all day, and I haven’t heard of one Chinese Nascar driver. What I do want to point out about Badminton, however, is the uniform choice for the sport. They are hideous, at least Finland’s are.

They wear plain t-shirts with their country’s name on their back, along with Richard Simmons fanny shorts and socks that went out of style in the late 1970’s. Their outfits scream, “I am a dork. But I am an Olympic athlete.”

Shameful, really, and I haven’t even touched upon the physics of the sport. Yet.

Kevin: Oh Kari, the things that occupy your waking thoughts.

Firstly, I was talking about Nascar fans, not drivers, and China probably has plenty of the fans. At least Nascar hopes so.

Secondly, I need to retract my blow up on ping pong. My friend George Collins is a big ping pong player and he’s having a tough enough time remembering each morning to wear his name badge to the high school, and I don’t need to upset that delicate balance.

Richard Simmons fanny shorts and plain t-shirts, eh? And you watching how much of this before becoming violently ill?

Kari: While I never actually got ill, I watched enough to know that the athletes have to be completely devoid of a self-image to wear that outfit while being watched by tens of hundreds of people across the globe.

And then there is the movement of the sport, which is one speed - slow. There are two people on the court, hitting the slowest moving object on the face of the earth, and it takes forever for the shuttlecock to get to person number two.

Person number two, meanwhile, could easily read the assembly instructions of a ceiling fan, in Japanese, while waiting on the volley. Lobbing a turtle would be comparable, only you’d need a more sturdy racquet.

Do I sound angry?

Kevin: Depends. Have you smashed another keyboard typing out that response?

Maybe they should use turtles instead of shuttlecocks. Especially if you can find turtles that scream when they are whacked with a racquet.

Kari:
The keyboard was on it’s last leg, anyway. As far as screaming turtles, that’s one good way to get PETA involved, and the last thing an Olympic athlete needs is heckling from the crowd. Unless it’s about their outfits.

Kevin: Good point, unless the crowd is hungry, and turtle soup is being sold in the concessions, soon as they load up on inventory.

I have to say that my memories of the Beijing Olympics will be dominated by Michael Phelps and the grandeur of the opening ceremonies. I’m even confident that, once I read this column in the paper once, I will relegate badminton to my cerebral back burner.

And that’s despite your naked attempts to scar me mentally with visions of Richard Simmons dancing and prancing around with a racquet, apologizing profusely to the shuttlecock for the pain caused with each pending whack.



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