The tall and lithe Michelle Li from Toronto dings a goose feathered shuttlecock to and fro in a lazy, backyard barbeque sort of way. The rubber-nosed projectile flies over the net as she takes a dainty step here, a swing of the ponytail there, and then she jumps a foot and half in the air, and…
Li hasn't clocked her "smash" but she guesses it's around 200 mph. This with a racket weighing less than a quarter pound which, perhaps, mischaracterizes the sport in general as non-contact, non-competitive, non-American.
“It’s regarded as a sissy’s game,” says Morten Frost, a former badminton world champion.
Frost says the big issue in the sport is getting Americans interested. So they came to Suffolk County Community College in something of a public relations attempt to impress New Yorkers.
In Asia and Europe badminton is huge, second to soccer— you know, that other sport Americans are just starting to notice again. On the West Coast, badminton already has a presence, but organizers want an East Coast audience in order to capture American interest.
Tournament organizer Henry Huang ponders a reporter's question, "Can you do that without the possibility of rough and tumble contact?"
"Tennis," he replies, "American people love tennis. They love golf. Why not badminton?"
The tournament runs through Sunday. Tickets can be bought at the door.
Forewarning: the game moves faster than you think. (Also, there’s an Irishman by the name of Scott Evans who takes his shirt off and yells a lot when he wins).