Now It’s Badminton, But Could Backgammon Be Next?

I’m sure many of you would be surprised to know that badminton is a high school sport sanctioned by the Minnesota State High School League.

The state girls badminton tournament is happening right now at Burnsville High School, and according to reports there are 230 participants performing in 337 matches.

When we were kids, we thought badminton was about as serious as tiddly-winks. Not so. A fellow named Kevin J. Anderson was quoted on the MSHSL web site last week saying, “Badminton is a gateway sport,” and he must be correct because he was called “Minnesota’s badminton historian” in the same sentence.

Now, seriously, folks. I don’t want you to take me the wrong way. I’m all for new sanctioned sports provided there are enough people out there who want to play them. I’m even impressed that there are currently 25 participating badminton teams in Minnesota this year.

My only concern is that, apparently, all of Minnesota’s competing teams are located in the Twin Cities area. Their head start in badminton will make it difficult for southwest Minnesota teams — should any choose to compete — to overcome the Metro’s by-now enormous state tournament advantage.

Shoot. It’s going to be like hockey all over again.

No doubt, the Twin Cities teams will be practicing their badminton year-round, leaving their outstate friends looking like comparable hayseeds for years on end. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to catch up.

Or should we? Well, I wonder. Just because the Minneapolis-St. Paul area thinks badminton is cool, that doesn’t mean we MUST follow along. Perhaps we can lobby for other new sanctioned sports. Like backgammon. I love backgammon.

Or Scrabble. Scrabble is fun, and it takes great skill to find the best words.

There’s always dodgeball. Once they made a movie about it. I actually played it for a season in Windom. The Daily Globe even had it’s own team.

And then there’s pickleball. It’s becoming very popular here. Why not?

Anyway, hats off to the MSHSL for thinking outside the box. Little did I know that badminton has been a sanctioned event since 1996, which makes it every bit as established as alpine skiing, lacrosse and Nordic ski racing — other MSHSL-sanctioned events dominated by Metro athletes.

With that in mind, I’m thinking backgammon. I’m especially thinking backgammon. I think in backgammon, we can take ‘em.