By: Bruce Krentz
Sports constantly make tweaks to things like rules, the field of play and the format for the games. Badminton have smashed tradition in the past with things like the “move-to-rally point” to make games faster and more exciting. They have hit another ace with their latest shot, a match play team format.
Premiering at the Manitoba Games, the new match play format pits region against region, turning a largely individual sport into team effort. It is one regional team versus another in 5 events across Singles, Doubles and Mixed disciplines in both male and female categories. The regional team that takes three or more of the events is the winner. Each region chooses up to 5 of its best all around girls and guys. Each of those players may have to compete in singles, doubles or mixed so versatility is the key.
What ensues is a something similar to the Ryder Cup in golf or the Continental Cup of Curling. Team captains assign different players to different events depending on what team they are up against. For example, in one round you may put your strongest player in singles, while the next time around that person may be assigned to mixed doubles. Team captains don’t know who the other region has selected until just before the match starts, so there is a chess or gamesmanship aspect involved as you try to guess where their strongest players will be, and where you should put yours.
The sheer volume of the crowd’s encouragement is another evolution in the sport, one that is turned up to 10 in the team competition. There was a time when speaking at a badminton match, like golf tees and libraries, was punishable by death. But for Baddy (FYI even the name has evolved), that is no longer the case. There are benches beside the courts now and, “Loud is Proud”.
No one serves underhand very much anymore, and now you can scream at the top of your lungs for a whole team, and not just your favorite player. Step in to the future with Team Badminton at the Manitoba Games powered by Manitoba Hydro.