You might have thought that basketball is the number one sport here in China, but it is not. The biggest sport here in China, is a game that in America is played by the senior citizen crowd, badminton. This past weekend I went to play badminton with Matt and James (two other teachers at EF) and my God, what a frustrating sport.
I thought the sport would be more like tennis since there is a racket and net. But everything I’ve learned about tennis is for naught when it comes to badminton. First of all, the racket is super small and no matter how hard you hit the shuttlecock (a.k.a. the birdie), it doesn’t go anywhere. I must have whiffed about 30 times. You can’t put any spin on a birdie, so slicing and topspin are worthless. The only thing that carries over to badminton from tennis is using your overhead shot.
I lost to both Matt and James every single game. I will chalk it up to the fact that they have been here for seven months and have some badminton experience. Of course I could also chalk it up to the fact that I sucked.
As we were playing a crowd of little kids started watching us. They started chatting with us and they challenged us to a game of two-on-two. I teamed up with Matt. We were playing two girls probably around the age of 12. We started playing and I could tell immediately that they were good. They were hitting shots that I would be incapable of doing in a million years. I would whiff at the birdie and they would laugh. This happened about 10-20 times. Goddamn kids!
Thank God Matt was on my team. He was at least keeping us in the game. At one point during the game one girl pulls out her cellphone (while we were playing) and started texting and talking on it. All the while she was still playing against us. She was really good. We weren’t in her league and we probably shouldn’t have been playing on the same court. But it was all in good fun and we made some new, if not a bit youngish, friends.