The cultural impact of badminton within several generations of youth in Bangladesh is something quite unique for an otherwise niche sport in terms of global appeal. Derived from a game called Poona, badminton can be traced back to the Indian subcontinent in the 1860s. It’s no wonder that the casual popularity of the game seemed to have sustained itself for close to two centuries. Now an Olympic sport, badminton is a game with massive popularity in certain circles but remains somewhat unknown in comparison to giants such as football or even cricket.
As children, almost all of us have played badminton at one point or another. Especially during winter, when the popularity of the game seems to skyrocket, which is, in and of itself, odd considering that the sport as it exists on the world stage is usually an indoor sport. However, most of our memories of badminton would likely be associated with either the school fields during sports week in January or our own backyards with cousins, friends and the like.
The connection to this sport that people have is one that heavily relies on community. You could ask your friend if they’ve ever played badminton, and the likely answer would be that they have. However, a large majority of that same segment of people are likely to be oblivious to the rules of the game. All that matters to them is the back and forth with their rackets. You would be hard-pressed by too many people who would be able to name even a couple of professional badminton players. Nobody ever really paid attention to measurements of the courts or anything of that ilk (I’m looking at you, Physical Education book from school).
While the ignorance towards the details of the game might seem like a point against the popularity of the game, the effect is somewhat the opposite. People still make an event out of casually playing badminton to this day. The game has transcended the usual stigma that many sports carry by being such an easy game to pick up and enjoy in a lighthearted environment.
That is not to say that people do not play badminton competitively as there are countless mini-tournaments arranged all over the country by enthusiastic youths and even many adults. These tournaments gather a lot of interest every winter and give the people some reprieve from their usual days. There are very few competitive sports that can claim to find popularity in the way badminton has within the general populace of Bangladesh, and that fact alone sets it apart in terms of cultural importance.