Deciphering the skill hierarchy of recreational badminton is simple:
The good players all congregate to the west side of the gym. The bleachers on that side of the building are where the people with serious attitudes and the best equipment rest between matches.
I sit on the east side of the gym. That’s where you’ll find the players who wear “I LOVE BEER” T-shirts and depend on the loaner racquets provided by the rec. department.
If you need more clues about which set of bleachers is for you just look at racquet manufacturers:
- Yonex: The best players have not one, but two or more of these $150+ beauties packed in nice, thermal bags to preserve the integrity of the string tension.
- Weird: These players can keep up with the best players, but they never quite win. Their racquets are from companies you’ve never heard of and unless you live in Malaysia; you probably never will.
- Wilson: These are the decent players who have elevated their games beyond backyard barbecue proficiencies. Every now and again they have some really great games but the Yonex players make them look like they’re still at the barbecue.
- Black Knight: These are okay racquets from Canada, but they’re the loaner racquets used by the program so most people with them in their hands are wearing “I LOVE BEER” T-shirts.
I like recreational badminton. I’ve been having fun. I depend a lot on whatever muscle memory remains from my tennis days. This actually has served me fairly well as I have been able to keep up in matches with the Yonex crowd. For the most part, though, I roll with the east side posse. We seem to smile and laugh a little more easily when we miss a shot which means there's a lot of laughing.