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Sweden slams on-court skirt demand

TT/Rebecca Martin · 21 Apr 2011, 10:36

Published: 21 Apr 2011 10:36 GMT+02:00

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Sweden's badminton establishment is in uproar about the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) latest scheme to attract viewers to the sport's events – a skirt demand for female players.

Up until now, female players have been allowed to choose between a skirt and shorts, but from the May 1st, that choice is no longer allowed.

“You don’t know whether to laugh or cry, really,” Sweden's national badminton team manager Håkan Croona told news agency TT.

The new rules will come into effect for the Super Series tournament.

The Indian Open, which is due to commence on Tuesday next week, will be the last competition where the ladies are allowed to wear shorts.

After that, female badminton players will have a choice of a skirt or a dress.

“I really can’t see how that would attract more viewers,” Thomas Ansgarth, chairman of the Swedish Badminton Federation told The Local.

According to Ansgarth the BWF has been working on creating a distinctive image for the sport for some time and this is just the latest outcome.

Recently, new rules from the BWF made it mandatory for doubles partners to wear the same colours – all to give the sport uniformity.

Badminton is a relatively small sport in Europe but in Asia the interest is huge.

The Swedish federation has had no say in these latest rules and their standpoint is that female players should have a choice - the sport should be in focus and not the attire of the players.

But the new rules will have little effect on Sweden, according to Ansgarth.

“Today 80 or 90 percent of players actually do play in a skirt, so it is only the remaining 10 percent who will be forced to change what they wear on court,” Ansgarth said.

Former Swedish badminton pro Johanna Persson, and instigator of Girls of Badminton, a blog designed to attract and encourage female players to stay within the sport, is flabbergasted by the news of the skirt demand.

“I really don’t think this feels like 2011. I fancy kick starting a real debate within the badminton establishment as to whether this really is something we can endorse. Also, I am curious if shorts are compulsory for the men or if they can opt for a skirt,” she said to TT.

Persson also added that the new rules aren’t only questionable from an equality perspective but can have a serious impact on a player’s game.

“Not everyone is comfortable with playing in a skirt, some really don’t want to and in a practical sense having fabric flapping can be a distraction,” she said.

On the Girls of Badminton blog, opinions on the skirt demand are mixed.

“Is it really the right audience that they are trying to attract? Wouldn’t it be better to try to further the sport in another way than just attracting an audience there to see some leg,” one reader commented on the blog.

“Is it impossible to imagine that someone actually interested in the sport could enjoy resting their eyes on something nice? Compulsion is never good, I agree, but this isn’t so bad. I know of girls who get annual tickets to watch boys play football,” another wrote.

Story continues below…

“Idiocy. Completely embarrassing. Would be interesting to see what would happen if the guys turned up in skirts too,” another reader commented.

First to be affected by the new rules are Sweden’s double partners Emelie Lennartson and Emma Wengberg.

“They already play in skirts, but I know that Emelie would rather not have to, “ national manager Croona told TT.

The skirt demand will only affect 12 games in a year for Swedish players and will have very little impact on the badminton scene in Sweden.

But according to Thomas Ansgarth, the Swedish Badminton Federation will take the matter further.

“At the moment we must follow the guidelines but we are definitely putting efforts into this question, “ he told The Local.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:26 April 21, 2011 by Borilla
At least they are not demanding that they wear a birka (yet).
15:22 April 21, 2011 by SimonDMontfort
I agree this seems an arbitrary piece of rule-making.

But "it will have very little impact on the badminton scene in Sweden" - suspect the real hoo-hah is more about the perception of 'voyeurs' turning up at the matches than anything else
15:59 April 21, 2011 by bcterry

Board of Directors

President - Henry Stolp

Vice President - Sue Ferras

Past President - Kim Neziol


Dr. Willem Bouma

Sandee Brown

Joe Cohoon

John Wheat

Peter Hexamer

Jamie Kent

Hartley Mitchell

Brian Smith

Dennis Tousenard

Bruce Wells

Wayne Wood

I see one woman, possibly two if Sandee is a woman's name, on this male dominated list of 14.

Same old, same old.
16:26 April 21, 2011 by Tanskalainen
Why not peach coloured string bikinis? The girls would sweat less.
19:11 April 21, 2011 by Swedesmith
Tanskalainen, you are so disgusting....red would be a much better color than peach.
19:26 April 21, 2011 by BIG KAMO
Wouldn't a "strip badminton" attract more viewers, now that demeaning trends towards women are becoming rules?

Borilla:"At least they are not demanding that they wear a birka (yet)".

well it's not about birkas or skirts, it's about the freedom of choice.
20:03 April 21, 2011 by calebian22
I love the stock photo. Strangely phallic
22:47 April 21, 2011 by Syftfel
I think that badminton should be declared a gender-bender sport. - Oh, that gay, fluffy, effeminate ball. - Men should wear skirts and dresses, and be forced to play it in high heels. Women should play bare chested, in thongs and barefoot.
02:12 April 22, 2011 by Tanskalainen
@Swedesmith Red is no good my friend because then they would be confused with the Danish team and then the two teams would have to have a giant cat-fight and they would be pulling each other's little bikinis off............Oooo wait.
15:38 April 22, 2011 by Swedesmith
Exactly.....now if only there could be some mud involved.
13:59 April 23, 2011 by markjuliansmith
Women unable to wear shorts and men can.

How is it the ability of women being able to be subject to discrimination is getting worse not better?
16:16 April 23, 2011 by Borilla

Since when did wearing a birka involve real freedom of choice? Men wear shorts, why not women?
11:49 April 27, 2011 by Raiha
This is got nothing to do with legs. You get just as much leg, and even more shapely bottom, with shorts. This is about pantie shots. Or maybe even just appealing to gender sensibilities in some Asian countries where women are expected to wear skirts.

Whatever the reason, removing choice is a definite issue. Only because the decision can't be argued under rational grounds ie, safety, protective wear, improved performance, etc.

@Calebian - LOL. You are so right. The front one has itchy balls, and the back one could be holding something other than a racquet...
19:03 April 28, 2011 by jamesblish
So they're trying the beach volleyball method. Make the players wear bikinis and the interest will skyrocket. Sad but true. Thought we'd evolved further than that. Apparently we haven't.
11:39 April 29, 2011 by TheOriginalBlackMan
Women who wear shorts and have flat butts are not attractive.

Majority of the women that play badminton are not feminine enough to pull of shorts (women that have curves but are not overweight). I clearly see the reasoning behind this decision.
12:23 April 29, 2011 by jamesblish
Luckily, sports has nothing to do with being attractive or not.
11:53 May 2, 2011 by Taha
This is funny...

The Swedish coach saying "Whether to laugh or cry".

One finds him/her self in this situation while going through everyday life in Sweden. From the govt. being too generous on asylum seekers to change of requirements when the person at the counter changes for opening a bank account....

One genius admiring the other genius!! LOL
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