Olympic badminton match: you’ve come a long way, baby.

You’ve heard of badminton, and possibly played it on your own lawn, but did you know
it’s one of the most popular pastimes in the United Kingdom?

Not so in the United States, of course, where it’s still an
elitist activity.

Think of badminton as a cross between tennis and volleyball.

The game is played by two or four players on what looks
like a volleyball court. Instead of using their hands to hit a ball,
however, players use rackets to hit a rubber and plastic shuttlecock
(or ‘birdie’) back and forth across the net.

The goal is to avoid letting the birdie touch the ground on
one’s own side of the court.

Despite the fact badminton is known for being played outdoors
at garden parties, it likely has indoor origins. The game is
thought to have been invented in the early 1870s at Badminton
House, the Duke of Beaufort’s Gloucestershire, England, estate.
Legend has it that the duke’s children devised the game inside
the great hall on a rainy day.

Badminton quickly became popular among the British elite,
who played it at seaside resorts and as a holiday activity at country
estates. Today the game is also played professionally.

We had to chuckle when we found out Stewart was a professional badminton player, since the only exposure we’d had to the sport was at our grandmother’s garden parties on the Fourth of July.