Big Changes at the Top09 August, 2016
In the years to come 1975 will be looked back on as the year when the biggest ever changes in the general conduct of top-class Badminton first took place. Money has entered the game as an officially permitted reward for those who have reached, and will in future reach, championship-winning class.
Hitherto, Badminton has been a purely amateur sport, officially at any rate, though one has heard of quite a number of what are called "under the counter" payments t selected players in the past few years.
Not only have such practices now been officially recognised, subject to certain minor jurisdiction, but the award of big prize money in tournament play has also been permitted.
In this issue we reproduce two articles, and excerpts from a third, all from writers in different countries, which purport to explain why the changes have come about, and why in the opinion of the writers, who obviously have authority behind them, they are justified.
The future effects of permitting players to receive quite large sums of money, either by contracts for using the equipment of certain manufacturers or as a reward for winning events in tournaments, or even for doing moderately well in tournaments, have not been touched upon. These consequences do need some thought.
Undoubtedly, the changes being adopted have been caused by monies coming into the game through sponsorshjp, which if properly used in administrative quarters, can of course represent a great boon. Much of the sponsorship income is being utilised in an excellent way, but much also is about to be paid, by means of advertised prize money, directly into players' pockets. The generally accepted meaning of the word "amateur" has become debased, and the interpretation of the meaning of the word will become "bent" still more before very long.
Despite top players gaining financial rewards from their prowess at the game, sometimes quite obviously above their employment income, they are still to be classed as "amateurs" so as not to render them ineligible for tournaments, international matches and everything else.
Badminton's future inclusion in the Olympic Games, for which very many people have an extremely keen desire, is at stake. To gain Olympic inclusion the eligibility regulations of the International Olympic Committee must be observed. These regulations do not permit some of the practices now being mooted. It is the same with other multi-sport events such as the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.
There is, too, the grave danger of alienating the many thousands of truly honorary workers in administrative circles. They give hundreds of hours of their time in organising the competitive side of the game for the great benefit of players. Are they going to carry on with their great and purely amateur work if it is only to be done so that players may make money? One may doubt that very much. And, if these doubts turn into fact, then player control or professional promoter control will become certain, and therefore the game must suffer very much.
We are already reliably advised of a case of players declining an invitation to represent their country in an official international fixture because they preferred to compete in a clashing tournament where big money prizes had been offered. Quite regularly were ad of similar reports at another well-known port, and one does not wish to see this happen at Badminton as well, as it undoubtedly will unless present relaxing tendencies are arrested.
And with matches being played for big money, as in tournament finals, are we not risking the fine spirit in competitive play for which the game is known?
-- By H.A.E Scheele, Editor - World Badminton March 1975