Chasing a bird that flies indoors at 200 mph

Craig Lambert in Harvard Magazine:

ScreenHunter_03 Feb. 23 22.14 In 1985, an astonishing time-motion study compared badminton with tennis. That year, Boris Becker defeated Kevin Curran in four sets for the Wimbledon tennis championship, and, amid far less fanfare, Han Jian of China bested Denmark’s Morten Frost in three sets of badminton at Calgary. The Wimbledon match lasted three hours and 18 minutes; the badminton contest took only one hour, 16 minutes. During the matches, the tennis ball was actually in play for a mere 18 minutes, as compared with 37 minutes for the badminton shuttlecock. Becker and Curran had 299 rallies and struck 1,004 shots; Jian and Frost had only 146 rallies but hit 1,972 shots, for an average of 13.5 per rally, about four times as many as the 3.4-shot average tennis point. And the distance covered by the players? Two miles in tennis, four miles in badminton.

This isn’t science; it’s a comparison of two matches that took place more than two decades ago, at the highest levels of competition. One reason badminton rallies last longer is that the court is smaller—a tennis doubles court covers roughly triple the area of its badminton counterpart. But these data should put to rest any notion that badminton is no more than an amusing game played at summer cookouts with a beer in one hand and a racquet in the other.

More here.