History of Badminton
The history of badminton is thought to go back to as far as ancient Egyptian and Grecian civilizations. Its development into the contemporary sport of badminton, however, has a distinctly English influence. In the 1600s the English played a game they called Battledore and Shuttlecock, in which a feathered shuttlecock was hit back and forth between players with a simple wooden bat. There was no net–the object was simply to keep the shuttlecock from hitting the ground.
Battledore and Shuttlecock was further developed into the sport now know as badminton when the English military played a game call “poona” in India in the early 1800s. This was the first time a net was used. In examining the history of badminton, one can see a much more rapid development of the game in England at this time. In fact, royalty entered the scene when in the mid-1800s the Duke of Beaufort introduced the game to guests at his estate and adopted the name of “badminton.”
Before long a badminton association was established and rules similar to the current badminton rules were introduced. Guildford hosted the very first open English tournament in 1898 and it only took one more year before the first All England Championships were held. From there badminton spread to other countries and by the 1930s the game was also being played in Canada, the United States and Denmark.
In 1934, the history of badminton was marked by the formation of the first international governing body–The International Badminton Federation. England, Canada, the United States and Denmark were joined by Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and the Netherlands in initiating the Federation, which continues to this day–now renamed Badminton World Federation. Today the Federation has 151 National Member Associations and five Continental Confederations, the same structure used by the Olympics. These badminton confederations are Oceania, Africa, Asia, European and Pan-American.
The International Badminton Federation established various competitions, such as the World Championships and the World Grand Prix. More major growth occurred in badminton history with the addition of the sport to the Commonwealth Games in 1966 and to the Olympics in 1992. While at first only men’s and women’s singles and doubles were allowed, in 1996 badminton became the first and only Olympic sport to allowed mixed doubles competition.
Although badminton started out with more of an English and American appeal, the international sport is now mostly dominated by Asian players. For instance, the Olympics have awarded gold medals to only five different countries since its 1992 admission to the Games. Denmark has only one and the rest have gone to China, Korea and Indonesia.
Although Olympic successes have declined, Badminton remains a popular sport in the United States, especially in the summer, where it is played in backyards, on beaches, at colleges and in local gyms and fitness facilities. The U.S. Badminton Association governs badminton in the United States.