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Badminton. Where did the name and the sport come from?

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Published on Aug 17, 2012

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Hello my dear students! Your favorite teacher is back with another round of Olympic trivia. Ready? Tell me, which of the following was an official event in past Olympic games: fire-fighting, poodle clipping, tug-of-war, or delivery van driving? [Pause] Believe it or not, they all used to be Olympic events! Well, poodle clipping—where contestants tried to trim the most poodles' fur in a two-hour period—was only a trial event, but it had 6,000 fans at the Paris Games in 1900!

So, while we're on the topic of fake-sounding events that really exist, do you know what Olympic sport uses The Uber Cup as one of its qualifying events? The answer is badminton, a funny-sounding word in its own right. Where did the name and the sport come from? Hot for Words is here to investigate.
The word "Badminton" has been associated with the sport since 1874. The game was named for the Badminton House, which was an estate in Gloucestershire, England. "Badminton" comes from the Old English word "Badimyncgtun," which means "estate of a man called Baduhelm."

Many believe that English officers invented the sport while stationed in India during the mid 18th century, then brought it to England and the Badminton house in the mid 19th century. It was based on the English game of battledore and shuttlecock, where two people use rackets to pass the shuttlecock (also called a "bird" or "birdie") back and forth as many times as possible. The English added a net and some rules, and badminton was born!

After badminton spread to other countries, the poor Englishmen discovered that they weren't the best at their own sport! In Europe, Denmark has dominated competitive men's badminton. Asian nations have been even more successful—Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia and especially China have produced some of the world's best players in the last several years.

Ready for some more trivia? Badminton was held as a demonstration sport at the 1972 Olympics, and again in 1988. This means that the sport was played to help it become more popular, not for actual Olympic medals. It finally became a full-medal Olympic sport at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain.

Did you know that Olympic rules are incredibly specific about how badminton is played? The rules say that the shuttlecock has to have exactly fourteen feathers!

So, for your homework, what activity do you want to become an Olympic sport? Ultimate Frisbee, extreme Internet surfing, or perhaps even beer guzzling? No matter how crazy your favorite activity, history shows that it could become an Olympic sport, so leave it in the comments!

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