Before the onset of the 2012 London Olympics, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) is attempting to get its often overlooked sport back on the radar, but the controversy they are stirring is not the publicity they were looking for.
According to the New York Times article by Jeré Longman, the BWF, in an attempt to increase viewers and boost interest, decided that to create a more “attractive presentation,” women must wear skirts or dresses to play at the elite level. Once this new regulation had been proposed the immediate reaction from many was that this rule was sexist and offensive towards women. It would appear as though on the grounds of the Badminton rule, it was completely based off of appearance with no regards for functionality.
However, there are those who believe that this transition is a positive move for Badminton. In an article by Sara Israelsen-Hartley, former world champion Nora Perry stated, “I am thrilled to be part of putting the women’s game higher on the agenda in the BWF. And the new clothing regulations are one of the tools that can help create a better presentation and more distinct profile of the women’s game.” It could be true that to increase the popularity of a sport like Badminton, they may have to mirror a sport like tennis that is already established.
But does focusing on appearance as a marketing plan make this proposal less sexist? Margaret Hartmann at Jezebel strongly feels as though the focus should be on their athletic ability to get larger audiences not their clothing and emphasizes the facts that there are only two members of the Badminton World Federation’s 25 council members that are women. The lack of women could be a reflection of the outcome of this potential change.
Although some players may support this movement, many female athletes have expressed frustration about a double standard because male badminton players have no rules regarding what they can or can’t wear. But, the BWF defends their intentions by emphasizing that it was not a sexual attempt to promote the sport but a way to have the women players have a professional presentation and in turn increase their popularity.
As of now, this rule has been suspended
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