The game’s no more about the right shots — it’s about keeping the outfit glam, frilly and short. The new dress code issued by the Badminton World Federation requires all female players to wear skirts or dresses in Grand Prix tournaments and above from May 1, “to ensure attractive presentation of badminton”. Sportspersons aren’t pleased: most think the rule commodifies the sport and its players.
“Though it is a good thing that they are working towards glamorising badminton, this is not the right way to do it. What you wear at the game should be a personal choice … you really can’t pressure anybody to wear anything,” says 27-year-old shuttler Jwala Gutta, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist. She adds, “Why can’t the federation ask the sponsors to design better clothing instead, or style individual players? This dress code can’t go on for too long.”
Former champion Aparna Popat says, “This is a bizarre move. Players should be allowed to choose what they want to wear; comfort is of utmost importance.” Like Gutta, she believes funking up the uniforms is a good idea, but not dictating hemlines.
Veterans, too, see the decision as a bad idea to hardsell the game.”There are other important issues that we need to address to make badminton more popular; everything’s not just about dresses,” says former National chief coach, U Vimal Kumar.
It’s not just the sport frat. Women’s rights activists are up in arms against the order. “To make mini-skirts compulsory is nothing but an act of commodification. Such decisions might keep lot of women away from the sport,” says Bharti Singh of the Haq Centre.
The new dress code also met opposition from shuttlers in Indonesia, where world champion Lilyana Natsir, 25, was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe, “Skirts hamper my movement when I play.” Some, however, differ. “I think badminton will finally become as glamorous as tennis,” says Rohit Manocha 24, a sports buff.