But the resistance is not so much to the spirit of the rule as to wearing skirts, and I think that’s just missing the point. Why is no one questioning the BWF’s rationale that a woman’s sport must be glamorous in order for it to be popular? Why is no one asking how the Federation plans to popularise men’s badminton? Surely, not by having them play shirtless! So why then should a woman’s sport be subjected to such a ridiculous assumption?
At the end of the day, what we’re doing is objectifying women who’re in a sport because they can play the sport, not because they can look a certain way. If more people watch badminton because there’s more skin at display on the court, what’s being popularised is not the sport but the notion that women are objects on display.
I’m ready to convert to another point of view – one that convinces me that there is nothing sexist about this move and that if they had to make a men’s sport also popular they would glam it up. I agree, glamour attracts a lot of eyeballs, a lot. But that’s no justification for us to ask women with a certain skill set to pander to such demands. What happens next? Do we ask women wrestlers to look more feminine because that would attract more fans, and do we ask women basketball players to wear body-hugging racer-back tees? And the men can continue to be sloppy, muscular and just good at their game?
If a sport has to be popularised, there must be other ways to do it. If cricket is so hugely popular in countries like India, it’s because we’ve had players who can win us matches. There’s glamour in the game, but that’s come because of the sport’s popularity. And even then, Sachin is by no stretch of imagination what you call glamorous. Neither was Kapil Dev. So what’s the connection?