Y’all know how much I love badminton and I know I’m incredibly lucky I get to play in China where the level and quality of the sport is so high.
But there is one thing I hate about Chinese badminton…..the smoking.
Yep, that’s right. Smoking–as in smoking cigarettes–indoors at the court while people are playing.
Think it’s outlandish? You have no idea. Take a closer look at the picture at the top. Notice something?
Yep, that’s a coach (not mine) standing at the sidelines, coaching his team (a really high level team by the way) while smoking. He was blowing the smoke not only towards the court, but also around the kid. And nobody thought it was weird or bad because it happens all the time. (Smoking around pregnant women is also normal.)
In China, smoking is part of the culture. You offer someone cigarettes as a sign of respect, and you can’t do business without puffing away. And it’s a big part of the badminton world and the power structures involved there too.
And I hate it so, so, so, so much. You can smell someone smoking even several courts away, so when someone is standing next to you, or behind you, it stinks.
Smoking is gross no matter what, but indoors a sports area where people are exercising?! It boggles the mind that it is so common and accepted as okay in this day and age. I mean, it’s not like Chinese people don’t know the dangers of smoking.
My coach smokes, some of my closest badminton friends smoke, and I rant and roar all the time about how they are huai ren, bad guys, because they smoke. “How can you care about your health when you smoke?!” I yell. When my coach gets winded after a long rally I snottily say, “If you stopped smoking you’d have more breath.)
At this point people are careful not to smoke around me, especially my coach, because it sets off one of my rants, but they just move a few seats away before lighting up.
I watched one young guy who didn’t know or like smoking go from delicately puffing one cigarette to smoking several in a day. I thought I could stop him, before it became a habit, but he told me he needs to smoke for work, so why not at badminton too?
It’s not just at my coaches court, but pretty much all the courts. There is one court I go to located on the 4th floor. Smoking is not allowed in the stairs leading up to the court, but smoking IN the court is allowed. Even when a court is big, the smell stands out and you always know when someone is doing it.
Beijing and Shanghai have started implementing smoking laws, and I can only hope they travel throughout the country at some point and someday it will be illegal to smoke indoors. I mean, it’s crazy this is even happening in a professional sports facility and wins as the number one thing I hate about Chinese badminton.