(MCT) — The last thing I needed was to kick the hornet’s nest of teenage mean girls who are now picking on me and calling me a fat, cynical journalist.
All I did was fail to give proper respect to badminton. Now they’re really angry. And once teenage girls badminton players get angry, you’re through.
It’s my own fault. I wrote a column about the Olympics and also participated in a Tribune video, commenting on the Olympic badminton scandal in which women’s teams were disqualified for throwing games. Yes, I mocked the short, stubby swings of the guilty as they cynically slapped their shuttlecocks into the net. And, yes, I dared suggest that badminton was an activity best played in backyards by people who have had a few too many.
Now the girls badminton players are angry, and they’re faster and quicker than I am, and being teenagers, they’re also better at social media than I. They’re more relentless. They could be ruthless. Against foes such as these, I stand no chance.
“So mister smart guy who thinks he knows all about badminton. ... YEAH RIGHT!!!!” writes Cory G. “You wouldn’t know anything about badminton if the ‘Shuttlecock’ hit you DIRECTLY in the face!!!
“How dare you talk about badminton like this! You have no idea what you’re talking about when you say that ‘the players threw the game.’ First off, it wasn’t every player, smart one! It was only 8! You based all this on probably 1 game that you watched. And you probably didn’t even watch the whole game! You only watched parts!! You are not a true reporter that gets ALL THE FACTS!!! Now, if you’re not willing to do what a true reporter would do, and investigate the sport of badminton, I will still continue to read your columns but I will take your articles with a grain of salt considering you don’t gather all your facts. By now, the IHSA badminton community is well aware of your article and video. Good luck with that!”
If you continue to read my columns, Miss G, that’s all I can ask. Just don’t slam me in the nose with some malevolent shuttlecock. I have teenagers, too, you know.
“Dear Mr. Kass, I watched your video on badminton and to be honest I was extremely surprised,” writes Julia M. “Your facts were inaccurate and you sounded sarcastic the entire time. As the captain of my high school badminton team, I found your video to be a slap in the face. What you fail to understand is that badminton requires agility, strategy and dedication. I would much rather be sprinting around the court hitting a ‘shuttlecock’ than getting fat and cynical behind a journalist’s desk.”
Fat and cynical? Miss M, please believe me. I’m not cynical. Really, I’m not. And I’m not sarcastic either. It’s just my facial expressions.
“Dear Mr. Kass,” writes Hanna R. “You obviously know nothing about badminton. If you did you wouldn’t have made yourself look extremely misinformed in your strongly opinionated video. Who are you to question what sports should be in the Olympics? The people in the Olympics have worked not only years but their whole lives to be in that position and you treat it as if it is a joke. ... Badminton is not just some pansy backyard sport, it is an actual sport that deserves to be in the Olympics. It takes real skill and agility to play, which you obviously didn’t know when you discussed it previously. As a journalist you have to get all the facts first, and for disregarding that you have not only made yourself look bad, but the Chicago Tribune as well.”
Then came the badminton mommies, as fierce as she-wolves protecting their cubs.
“I take exception to your comment that badminton is a ‘game best played in backyards by folks who have had a few too many,’” wrote badminton mom Sue R., who added that her daughter, Juliana, 11, is a serious athlete hoping to compete in the 2020 Olympics.
“I invite you to register for the Chicago Open Tournament, also at the Midwest Badminton Club, Sept. 21-23. My husband and I would be happy to cover the cost of your registration. ... Badminton is the fastest racquet sport, with players battling the birdies at speeds up to 250 miles per hour. ... The competitors train like every athlete, and show as much dedication as any!”
Yeah, well, I’m a dedicated sitter. I can sit for hours. And I’m going to play badminton with mean girls? Really? No way. They’re so enraged, they’d rip my throat out.
“I’m laying down a challenge, John,” wrote Laura G. “Come to the Midwest Badminton Club. ... Play my daughter, a two-time state qualifier. She is much better than I and was also quite upset with your article. ... I bet we can get sweat on your brow in the first five minutes. Are you up for it. Or are you afraid of a little shuttlecock?”
I’m afraid. I’m very afraid.
Still, I might show up and watch (not to play, just watch), so this fat, cynical man can see what an exciting thing badminton is. It might be cool.
But only if you stop being so mean. And only if you promise not to hit me in the face with a shuttlecock.
It’s a sincere face. Really. I mean it.
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Readers may send him email at email@example.com.