Badminton: Second Most Popular Sport in the World

People with Badminton Shuttlecock
People with Large Shuttlecock - Photo Credit Eilidh_Wag (Flickr)
People with Badminton Shuttlecock
People with Large Shuttlecock – Photo Credit Eilidh_Wag (Flickr)

A recent tweet by Ross O’Carroll-Kelly  which I found rather humorous, drew my attention to a sport that has been part of my life since I was 5 years of age. “Badminton”, he says, “Four and a half million Irish people have it down as a hobby on their CV. Thirty five Irish people actually play it.”

There is both truth and irony attached to his tweet. Firstly, there are probably 35 members in my club alone not to mention all the other clubs, both senior and junior, in Dublin and all over the country. However, there are possibly a lot of jobseekers (via their CV’s) claiming they are still active badminton players when they most probably have not touched a racket or held a shuttlecock since they were kids. The tweet was embraced by many, making funny claims including one lady who quite correctly noted that most people spell it wrong, as in BAGminton or BadMINGton!

Back in the days of my youth, local halls and many schools in every village and town had a badminton court. All we needed was a court outline, a net and a roof that was high enough to play a half-decent game. Sadly today,  many of those white outlines on the old wooden floors have disappeared.

Maybe it’s a case of media mania and more children living their lives through smart phones, or maybe it’s a shortage of children wanting to play the sport due to more popular options being available in this country such as soccer, GAA and Rugby.

However, I do know that most people over the age of 30 had access to a badminton court in their youth and as O’Carroll–Kelly quite rightly points out, have added it as a hobby on their Curriculum Vitae’s. Not that one would think that the ability get a shuttlecock over a net would secure the job of your dreams!


Badminton might come over as all quaint, uncontroversial and even “fairy-like” at times, but nothing could be further from the truth.

At the 2012 Olympics, 8 players, 2 pairs from China and one each from Indonesia and South Korea were disqualified for not trying to play. They were attempting to manipulate the draw for an advantageous position in the knockout stages. It was comical to watch and resulted in total confusion amongst the badminton community. The sport thus exploded onto the back pages of newspapers all over the world as a result.

London 2012 Badminton: 8 Players Disqualified

An earlier name for the sport was called Hanetsuki which, was played with wooden paddles. The basis of this form of Badminton was to keep the shuttlecock in the air for as long as possible. Each time a player missed a hit, female players were marked on their faces with India Ink. This is still played in some parts of the far east today.

Olympic and world champion Lin Dan is regarded to be probably the best Badminton player in the world today. He caused massive controversy at the 2012 Olympics when he revealed a series of tattoos which included his favourite cartoon character and five stars to represent his 5 world triumphs.  However, many of the Chinese observers protested saying that Lin Dan’s tattoos were in contravention of both his military status and religious beliefs.

Adding to this, Dan also tried to physically attack the South Korean coach Mi Mao at the 2008 Korean open. He lost his temper when he was defeated in his final match in a series of doubtful line calls. The pair had to be separated by officials.


The official game of Badminton was born in a stately home in Gloucestershire, England, home of the Duke of Beaufort.

Badminton is the fastest racket sport in the world with the shuttle clocking speeds in excess of 200mph.

Badminton is the second most popular sport in the world, after soccer. Fact!

Badminton was introduced into the USA in the 1890’s and became quite popular in the 1930’s.

It is an Olympic sport that was first played in 1992 at the Olympic games in Barcelona. More than 1.1 billion people tuned in to watch this competition on television.

I really can’t finish this article without extending congratulations to our own Scott Evan’s on his recent achievement in Rio. Following a tough fight, he bowed out just before entering the last 16 to number four seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, losing 21-16, 21-12.

Evans, from Dublin made history in Rio having become the first Irishman to ever win a badminton match at the Olympics, despite doing even better than that, reaching the 2nd round.

It was a groundbreaking week for Irish badminton and a massive achievement for Evans. Well done Scott! You had every reason to take your shirt off and celebrate!

For more information about Badminton in Ireland, contact Badminton Ireland.



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