With a view to glamourize Women’s Badminton and make it look more attractive, the World Badminton Federation in December 2010 had issued the directive that in tournaments of Grand-Pre and above levels wearing skirts would be compulsory for women players. The Federation feels that, then the tournaments would took more attractive to sponsorers and companies related to sports’ wears. Thereby, they would earn more money and have more audience as well. The directive will be effective from Ist June 2011 onwards.
This has led to a lot of adverse reactions among the players, some of which have figured in the newspapers also. Prakash Padukone, the first Superstar of Badminton in India, spoke differently as he said that the players should not be forced to wear “Skirt”. That it is not a proper way of popularizing the game. They should search out some other methods. Jwala Gutta, the Indian doubles’ star player, though herself wears skirt, but is of the view that it should not be imposed upon the players. The players should be given the choice as per their likings about the dress, wheather one likes wearing skirts or shorts. Saina Nehwal is also of the view that though she herself has no problem playing in skirts and she usually puts on shorts, but the choice of dress depends upon one’s comforts. If one feels comfortable in shorts only, why should one be made uncomfortable by such rules. National Women Commission of India has also raised objections to this move of the World Badminton Federation. It has alleged that it is just an outcome of “male dominated mindset” and that if needed it would communicate its objections to the Federation. Not only in India, Liliyana Natsir, the Indonesian player has also expressed her feelings that she never plays in skirts, it makes her feel uncomfortable, though now she has started practicing in skirts with shorts underneath it. In general, many players have not liked the idea, though they cannot resist it openly and will compromise with the given situation.
The question is wheather it is proper to adopt such techniques to popularize the game. In India, the fact is that the game of women badminton has become more popular with Saina Nehwal’s spectacular achievements at international levels. Many girls got attracted and audience increased not because what she was wearing, but because she could bring laurels for the country. If any thing needs to be glamorized in this country, it should not be through the dress, but by bringing to the knowlege of the people the very fact that how with her sheer will power, determination, hard work and focussed attitude supported by parents could raise the stature of a small town, middle class girl to the top of the world at No. 3 Rank. Other girls like Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa are other examples as well on the same line.
In Tennis also as Sania Mirza kept rising in her career, the Indian girls, people and audience got mesmerized and the game became so popular that many girls started dreaming of becoming Sania. Their examples should be eye opener for the World Badminton Federation to make them think of some other strategies for making the game popular than this narrow attitude of exploiting feminity as a tool to popularize the game.
Let us not forget that substance is more important than the appearance. Freedom in all fields is of utmost importance to get the best of oneself. The whole world should not be viewed from one perspective only.
People of different nations have different cultures and value systems, in which they feel comfortable. Imposition of one set of values is not going to help the cause. The women players should be given the freedom of choice to wear either skirts or shorts, as they feel comfortable, in the larger interest of the game. The Tughlaqi Farman must be withdrawn forthwith.