Saturday, 12 March 2011


The people who run badminton are as incompetent and ridiculous as all the other sportocrats. Their latest wheeze is to stipulate that female players must wear skirts (or dresses) in sanctioned competitions, because it's prettier. You probably know this already. I'm always the last person to find these things out. Anyway, the International Brother- and Sisterhood of the Shuttlecock is going batshit.

You'd have thought that everyone would have just laughed-slash-ranted-indignantly, like they did when Sepp Blattered about women footballers looking better in microshorts. But no, on May 1st, when qualifying starts for the Olympics, Rule 19.2 comes into force. The 25-Man committee of the BWF is adamant. Oh, sorry, that's 23-Man and 2-Woman.

This editorial in Badzine (yes, in news you dream of being true, the world's #1 badminton magazine is called Badzine) tackles the issue head on. Jan Lin, a female shuttler as well as a sportswriter, talks to a friend in badminton, who replies,
“But I’ve never worn a skirt in my entire playing career!” she said with a mixture of horror and sadness in her voice.
Quite right, you might be thinking, but Jan Lin thinks it's 'a Catch 22. Good idea, poor implementation, and, women won’t listen anyway.' What? She really thinks it's a good idea? She credits the men involved with wanting to improve the commercial appeal of the sport. But, keen student of the past that she is, she says:
If history is to be learnt from, then the 1960s women’s liberation movements offer many valuable learning points. This is not to say that there is no way to dictate the preferred attire for women in sport but if branding and commercial development of the sport is a concern, then policy makers have got to take a more artful approach in attaining the desired outcome of this ‘dress-up’ policy.

It starts with understanding how women work. There is a common fallacy that women dress up for the primary motivation of attracting the bees and butterflies. Not true. A woman just wants to look good, whatever her definition of ‘good’ is, and whenever she comes around to realising that looking ‘good’ is often directly proportional to positive self-esteem. Women are also creatures of envy and many are slaves to fashion trends à la the ‘if she has it, I want it too’ syndrome.
In a nutshell, show us pretty things and we will run after them like magpies. I'm not 100% sure this is the main lesson to be learnt from the 1960s liberation movements. Anyway, when Jan is asked her opinion on outfits by fellow shuttlers, and she says they're not flattering, the clothes never reappear. You might think all this is a bit retrograde, but Jan movingly adds that 'Women are less in control of fashion than fashion is in control of them.' And 'not all men look good in suits or ‘polo’ shirts' either:
Some men are just made for the simple round-neck tee-shirts or sleeveless tops for their delicious oversized muscles. I’m all for ‘if you have it, flaunt it’.
Jan's anti the rule, but she's funny about clothes.

1 comment:

fivetwosix said...

I'm glad you find me funny about clothes, as that's exactly what I felt about the attire rule or when "sportocrats" attempt to act as fashion police - funny. :) It's inherently futile because fashion is so subjective, but it's a good idea to tackle it if it is believed to have hindered the sport's commercial appeal. Yet one can do so much better than just recklessly enforcing a skirting sanction that is meaningless on its own imho. :)

Hope you enjoyed the article!

- Jan