Badminton in Manhattan


Avery and I played badminton shamelessly today on the Hudson River esplanade, using a volleyball court in full view of the tourists, joggers and the Citi Bike cyclists trying not to hit them. It’s an ancient summer sport, but technically the last day of summer was just this past weekend. It was fun. Maybe we will start a new trend – out-of-season outdoor badminton played against a strong North wind driving the ball relentlessly left.

We played to fill a PE requirement to try a new sport. No one plays badminton anymore, and I know why. It’s the actual name of the thing you play it with. You know. The ball with the web attached. If they changed its name, badminton might live again.  Here’s why it’s a nearly dead sport. “Shuttlecock.”  Ack. I need to wash my mouth out with soap. “Police arrested a downtown Manhattan man for playing with his shuttlecock in public. Therapy will be provided. No film at 11.” The shuttlecock is less well known as a “shuttle” or “birdie,” reports Wikipedia. Better. But I have five other ideas I’ll reveal in a minute.

Interesting side note: You won’t catch my wife ever using the word “moist.” She despises it. In an emergency, a towel on the floor could be “damp,” but more likely it’s “slightly wet.” It will never be “moist.” I am similarly disturbed when told someone is “efforting.” I am “efforting” to resolve a situation. No. Why not “try.” Trying is easier and less gross. Please, “make an effort.” But never engage in “efforting.” In that vein, I hate it when people “think out of the box.” Who put you in a box? I didn’t.  Just think. Forget the box. There is no box. A phrase I despise is “game changer.” Let’s have no more game changing. Game Over. More recently, it’s all about “branding.” Kanye West was recently asked about girlfriend Kim Kardashian. He told the interviewer he “liked her brand.” You two and your brands should be very happy together. Yuck.

Back to badminton. I picture myself about to leave the apartment for a nice summer game. “Honey, do you have the racquets?” Yep. “Do you have the thing you use to hit against the racquets?” What dear? “The shuttle.” Huh? “You know, the birdie.” What? “The… ah screw it. Let’s go bowling.”

So, (aside from shuttle or birdie) here are my suggestions to rename the unlovely shuttlecock:

  • 5. Ball with webby thing attached. (Hmm.)
  • 4.  Golden snitch (Trademarked by J.K. Rowling. Otherwise perfect.)
  • 3.  Air ball (Because it sort of drifts with the wind.)
  • 2. Fairy ball (Because it’s a small thing that flies like Tinker Bell)
  • 1. Floater (My favorite.)

Please tell me your ideas to replace the word “shuttlecock” or list other words you long to erase from the English language. Maybe we could start a petition (as long as no one starts efforting to do that.)






Badminton in Manhattan

4 thoughts on “Badminton in Manhattan

  1. Jordan says:

    I see by your ideas #1-3 that you are not playing at anything close to the appropriate velocity. Badminton games should be brutal. It should result in bruising when that thing hits you – not feel like the light airy brushing of benevolent fairy wings.

    Perhaps something like Pain Bringer or Stinger From Hell or HowCanARubberTippedPieceOfPlasticDoThatToMyLeg? Something along those lines.

    1. Jordan,

      Point taken. Avery and I play a kind of easy-going style of badminton where the ball is hit about 15 feet in the air at a nearly vertical angle. That’s how we roll. I recognize it’s a far cry from an Olympic badminton contest. I watched a video of two competitors really going at it in badminton, and it does look like something that could leave a stinger.

      If you make it up to New York City some time, I will be glad to play you in badminton. If I sustain an injury from your lightning fast serve, I will kiss my own boo boo and promise not to cry. If you didn’t feel it gave away a competitive advantage, maybe I could be allowed to play with protective gear: knee pads, elbow pads, goggles and possibly a helmet.

      1. Jordan says:

        Since you are likely to lob soft vertical shots in my direction – thereby setting me up PERFECTLY to plan and execute with my return volleys with absolute deadly precision – I do not in the least feel it would give you a competitive advantage to wear any kind of protective gear you choose. In fact, it will prolong the game. Gird away. I look forward to it as soon as I can make it up that way.

      2. When we are not competing/playing Guatemalan foot bag games in Central Park, we can play badminton on the esplanade. If you’re feeling particularly athletic and fearless, we can ride bicycles across the Brooklyn Bridge. (Please, no popping wheelies) I have our whole day planned.

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