That Beautiful Game…

I never really realised just how much the new rules affected players until I watched round 32 of the Olympic Badminton Men’s Singles, India versus Japan last night. While the game was certainly interesting, it was nothing like the game I fell in love with when watching the Thomas Cup of yesteryears.

For those who don’t really know what badminton is, it’s a sport like tennis, only you have a shuttlecock instead of a ball, a thin, banjo-like racquet instead of a huge guitar, and your average court is small enough that you can cover it in generally 5 steps instead of one running lap. It’s small, quick and fast.

Or it could turn into one massively long and epic shuttle service battle as players vied to control the shuttle, and with it, the game.

The old rules of badminton stated that a player could only score points when it was his service. This could stretch a single badminton match into several hours, depending on the stamina of the players involved. It also made for some very entertaining and spectacular theatrics, as you could really see each player’s skills and strategies in full blossom.

Taller players tended to smash more, and they often struck where their rivals were unprepared. Shorter players tended to play the net, playing a deceptively slow volley before killing the service with a well-aimed and well-placed shot.

The newer rules state that no matter whose service it is, you will still get your points. Although this means a faster game, I myself at least don’t find it as enjoyable as I did before. The intensity seems to be gone. Instead of thinking how to best your opponent, the focus has shifted to scoring as many points as one can. Gameplay is not longer as interesting as it was.

I suppose what I really miss is the psychological aspect of the game. There’s just not so much kick to it anymore. Who needs stamina when you have speed?