One of the greatest challenges of maintaining a club sports program at a university is continuity, considering every year a new batch of potential members comes on to campus while another departs.
For the University of Oklahoma club badminton program, the challenge is no different, save for one exception: Shawn Lam.
Lam, who has been involved in the sport for more than three decades, is the staff advisor of the club at OU, and remains an unchanging foundation for the program.
“I’ve been playing the sport for over 30 years,” he says. “I started like everyone else, having fun, and then I was on the high school team for a year when I was in Hong Kong. After coming to the United States for my college degree and beyond, I played on the OU team or any other places with local badminton tournaments.”
There are a number of reasons to get involved in the sport. Affordability can be a challenge due to equipment, but for the most part, the sport is accessible.
“We welcome all students to join,” says Lam. “For the club, it’s not expensive to join. We only charge the minimum because it’s all volunteers running the club. The main expense with badminton is the feather shuttlecock. They are quite expensive and they are very fragile.”
The OU club was started in the 1980s and has a regular membership of 40-60 students per year.
The sport itself has a culture of respect and thoughtfulness, says Lam. Because badminton is more popular internationally than it is in the U.S. and Oklahoma specifically, the sport attracts a wide range of people.
“The culture is respectful and treats people equally,” says Lam. “Any race, any background.”
The OU club is currently in a state of maintaining the status quo due to challenges associated with the pandemic, as well as a lack of volunteers, but there are still opportunities for Oklahomans to get involved in the sport, and support them should new clubs need it.
Happening in October, the Oklahoma Senior Games includes a badminton event.
“We continue to support our communities,” says Lam. “I’ve been helping Oklahoma Senior Sports to host their Senior Games every year. I enjoy doing those, and I see our gray-haired generation come out and do exercise; I support that 100% from my heart.”
Most sports have unique jargon associated with its equipment, and the badminton is no different.
Racquet: Similar to a tennis racquet but lighter and smaller, badminton requires one for play. Costs range from $100-$200 and upkeep requires occasional restringing of the head.
Shuttlecock: Also commonly referred to as ‘birdie,’ the shuttercock is the projectile that is used by players to execute the game.
Scoring: In badminton, a match is played best 2 of 3 games, with each game played up to 21 points. A rally ends when the shuttlecock touches the floor.
Wood shot: A shot that results when the base of the shuttlecock is hit by the frame of the racquet. This shot was not always allowed in play and was ruled acceptable by the International Badminton Federation in 1963.
Fault: A fault occurs when the player violates a rule at any point during gameplay.
Alley: The alley is an extension of the badminton court used for doubles play. The extension measures 1 ½ feet on both sides of the court.