You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

Badminton is badass (and other stories in Beijing)

August 13th, 2008

Probably one of the few times I rant about sports.

I can’t seem to get enough of the Olympics. It has completely derailed my schedule. I have no television, but the live streams on NBC’s website are irresistible. Whatever the network is unable to cram into four hours of airtime, it posts online. This means I can watch all the footage from sports most Americans don’t care about: handball, badminton, and trampoline (how can you not love trampoline?).

The big story of these Games has been Michael Phelps. Apparently, NBC wrestled the IOC to hold swimming finals in the morning so that American viewers can see Phelps make history live at night. He has already captured five gold medals in these games alone and three more would put him above Mark Spitz for most number of gold medals won at a single games. But with NBC’s spotlight on Phelps, it’s easy to forget there are other sports besides swimming (and gymnastics). Some observations about these lesser appreciated sports.

  • BADMINTON: The sport which Europeans invented Asians now dominate. You can feel all the rage against colonialism being released in the sharp smack of the shuttlecock. When played by pros, the game is as fast and exhilarating as tennis. At the Games in Beijing, badminton has drawn larger crowds than either swimming or gymnastics (the big ratings draws here in the states). China’s star player Lin Dan is apparently the equivalent of Kobe Bryant in the states. The American doubles team of Bach/Malaythong doesn’t stand a chance against the competition, but it’s nice to see them trying to create some American buzz for the sport.
  • EQUESTRIAN: Not a sport for poorer countries. The cost of training must be enormous, and I’ve always wondered what the horses practice their leaps on—garden hedges? The hurdles this year tended towards the surreal. It was DalĂ­ meets the Kentucky Derby. “A clean jump over the avocado,” I heard the commentator say, and sure enough, the fence was shaped like the fruit. This was followed by a wall of cheese.

  • SHOOTING: How many ways can you shoot something? Try fifteen. India, which hasn’t seen the likes of gold since 1964 (for field hockey!), found an unlikely champion in the president of a video game company. Without a doubt, it was his well-spent hours playing Duck Hunt that gave Abhinav Bindra the competitive edge.
  • TENNIS: Who stays up till 4am to watch tennis live? Sadly, I do. Since Andy Roddick skipped the Olympics to prepare for the U.S. Open, I’ve been rooting for Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (3). The “Djoker” has been playing some prime tennis, and I’d love to see him pull an upset over Rafa (1) or Roger (2). On the women’s side, I predict a showdown between Ana Ivanovic and one of the Williams sisters, Venus, I hope. The Williams sisters will probably take doubles.
  • HANDBALL. Not to be confused with the beach variety played against the wall. Olympic handball is more a hybrid between water polo and basketball. I don’t know why Americans have been slow to embrace this sport adored by the rest of the world. It has all the showboating of basketball combined with the high contact collisions of football. What’s not to like?

Entry Filed under: badminton,equestrian,nbc,olympics,phelps,sports,swimming


August 2008


Recent Posts