In the 1980′s, there was a badminton club of over 100 members who played on 3 courts for two evenings, four hours each night. For 10 years of my membership in the club, it was an evening of strong competition separated by sometimes two spaces of time that was used to become familiar with ones clubmates. Key to the success of the club was the affable matriarch, Ethel Matsubayashi. She taught willing students of the game, helped organize each evening and ran the socials. There were those who envied her or objected to her iron personality. But she captured the essence of what made a successful recreation club – pleasant for the recreationist with enough challenge for the sportsman.
That club is leading a slow march to annihilation, started by Ethel’s death. The new leaders failed to understand that Ethel’s success was her inate understanding of sustainability – that of welcoming new members with warmth and training in the sport.
In my return to the sport recently, I encountered a club which has entered a similar phase of degradation. Currently, it runs an operation which they consider to be at full capacity (85 members on 6 courts) and will not engage new members despite a typical lag following the new year. Previously, the club was led by an affable autocrat who has aged out of the sport. Tony would welcome new members, always respectful of not intruding on existing members’ privileges. Post-Tony follies of non-inclusiveness will lead to the demise of this once strong recreation club.
This manner of operation is an error in any recreation planning. Where are the next generation of club members to be generated? Every sport needs a senior organization to assist with a business plan to ensure the individual club and, indeed, the sport itself sustains growth or at least status quo.