No, changing the badminton scoring system won't help popularise the game in any way

Badminton World Federation (BWF) president Poul-erik Hoyer Larsen has made it clear that he wants to change the existing badminton scoring system.

File photo. (Image credit: Twitter)
By Shayne Dias | Apr 8, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Badminton World Federation (BWF) president Poul-erik Hoyer Larsen has made it clear that he wants to change the existing badminton scoring system. That it will be discussed in the body’s AGM later this year is also well known. Yet the mooted idea has been met with sharp resistance by many within the community of the sport. It is worth noting this isn’t the first time that Larsen has mooted a change. A similar push in 2018 was shot down due to not garnering the required majority. However, it seems likely that the motion as it stands has every chance of succeeding.

“The proposed scoring system change is part of my vision to make badminton more exciting, to reduce the length of matches and to increase the entertainment value for stakeholders and fans,” Larsen has said at the BWF headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

“The last time this topic was tabled, it did resonate with a significant section of our membership with a narrow verdict met. We concede the timing was not right back then, but I’m pleased to see this being driven by the membership once more.”

Yet it is worth asking what effect this will have on the sport and its growth?

Another scoring system tinkering

Badminton has a long history of adopting changes in the scoring system. It is also worth noting that the changes have always been met with resistance.

Yet it is also worth pointing out that the sport has seen steady levels of growth in viewership over recent years. And most of these fans are fully accustomed to the current points system.

Will a rule change actually help grow the sport in quick succession? That remains to be seen, but history has shown mixed results in this regard.

There’s also the fact that one of the sport’s appeal is the level of endurance and skill needed to succeed. A shorter game time will eliminate the drama and suspense of long rallies. That is something only possible more often in a longer match.

Plus, there’s the simply fact that the BWF pushing for a rule change also ignores a more proven way to make the game more popular.

Make stars, not new systems

One of the easiest recipes for success in sport is to properly market athletes. Badminton has no dearth of great players, but non-fans will struggle to name even one truly transcendant player at present.

It is a trend seen in sports that can be considered niche or whose popularity isn’t global. The sport as it is has experienced some growth in recent times. However, casual fans will come for stars and not just the sport.

The challenge with marketing stars is that casual fans may perhaps choose to leave when they retire. However, that is why sports will always market newer players as ‘the next big thing’ in a bid to keep casual fans hooked.

Badminton as a sport can do with changes. But a change in the scoring system? To quote a popular social media meme – this ain’t it, chief.