Disappointed Evolution of Indonesian Badminton Culture

By: Brahmanto Anindito

If you love badminton, you must know that Indonesia is one of the giants in this sport. But as a badminton lover and an Indonesian, I noticed some changes have been occurring, both in the athletes and the spectators. The disappointed changes. Let’s start from here:

Badminton is everyday game in IndonesiaIndonesian badminton athletes today are more often likely to yell for celebrating any point gained, as the coaches told them to relieve the emotion, and “terrorize” their opponents. It’s logic. But finally this attitude only makes us no different with China, South Korea, and European athletes.

I am not saying shout on the court is bad. I am just losing the low profiles athletes like Hendrawan (be coach now), Taufik Hidayat (almost retired) and Maria Kristin (still swaying the racket). I miss the “shout as loud as you can while I just try to stay calm and play better than you” attitude. This used to be our cultural characteristic as East people: Calm, but competent.

The other attitude I miss is the respect toward opponent. Rudi Hartono, an Indonesian legendary badminton athlete, would pick the shuttlecock up and passed it above the net to be caught by his opponent. He never passed it below the net. This is trivial. But think about the philosophy.

When a shuttlecock falls right in Rudi’s play field, he saw it as his fault (incapability). So he was in charge for it by serve his opponent the proper shuttlecock. With this philosophy, Rudi Hartono is the only one on earth who won All England eight times. The highest achieving is never to beat the opponents, but to respect them instead. Even martial art’s masters profess this philosophy.

I don’t know whether my missing has thing to do with Indonesian badminton team achievement or not. But if we just focus to observe the Olympic, Indonesia has been evolved negatively. These are what we’ve got so far:

  • Five medals from Barcelona 1992: 2 golds (Susi Susanti/female single and Alan Budikusuma/male single), 2 silvers (Ardy Bernardus Wiranata/male single and Eddy Hartono-Rudy Gunawan/male double), and 1 bronze (Hermawan Susanto/male single).
  • Four medals from Atlanta 1996: 1 gold (Ricky Subagja-Rexy Mainaky/male double), 1 silver (Mia Audina/female single), and 2 bronze (Susi Susanti/female single and Denny Kantono-Antonius Iriantho/male double).
  • Three medals from Sydney 2000: 1 gold (Tony Gunawan-Candra Wijaya/male double) and 2 silvers (Hendrawan/male single and Tri Kusharyanto-Minarti Timur/mix double).
  • Three medals from Athena 2004. 1 gold (Taufik Hidayat/male single) and 2 bronzes (Sony Dwi Kuncoro/male single and Eng Hian-Flandy Limpele/male double).
  • Three medals from Beijing 2008: 1 gold (Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan/male double), 1 silver (Nova Widianto-Lilyana Natsir/mix double), and 1 bronze (Maria Kristin/female single).

This is a decline, no doubt. And this brings me to another disappointment, link to spectatorship. Declining achievement, declining spectator enthusiastic.

Once upon a time, the militancy and togetherness of Indonesian supporter was so tough. No matter the supporter of other team were greater number, we were always the most sensational supporter in stadium. Screaming when thrilling. Singing in ensemble. Cheering even in the middle of the play. Something you don’t find in tennis, table tennis, even beach volley game.

First thing to do for the Indonesian when enter the stadium was listening from where the shout that’s typically Indonesia, then they would sit there. Because they never yell individually. What if they didn’t know each other? No problem. They would.

It seems like Indonesian supporter were the only mob who systematically plan everything to support their badminton players. Few men would offer themselves to direct and teach the mob the songs. Then suddenly everybody was ready to light up the stadium.

My French friend feel electrified by experiencing the atmosphere of stadium himself. I hadn’t known he liked badminton until he caught up by camera sitting on spectator tribune in one of Jakarta‘s badminton stadium. I was watching the match live on TV, so I recognized him. Few days after, I asked him his opinion.

“That was crazy!” he said in French, “Every move of Taufik Hidayat invited the cheers. Like Zidan when showing up his skill on the field. They sang, they screamed. For a moment, I thought I was in soccer stadium. So uproar. Your folks … were totally insane! But I was thrilled being there.”

Yeah, me too, François.

And the other badminton’s giants too. Ask China’s coach, which team he wants to meet in final when Indonesia becomes host. You’ll get the obvious answer: Indonesia! They’ll crazier when one of Indonesian player reach the final. The uproarious of spectators is always a challenge for strong teams. Moreover, I think this hullabaloo things makes badminton game more interesting, more selling.

I really hope the militancy badminton culture and “heroism” of Indonesian supporter won’t lessen, even when the athletes’ achievement has declining. [photo by Brahm]

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