Badminton is in danger of being cut at schools throughout California. In the San Gabriel Valley, a student-driven movement has emerged to save the sport. Youth enthusiasts from around Southern California converged earlier this year at the Los Angeles Badminton Club in El Monte. The story of the sport, and the Mark Keppel High School player and organizer Alice Liew, are told in a video directed by Alan Fischer and produced by Natalia Bogolasky.
Badminton has never been a particularly popular high school sport. Nationally, only nine states recognize badminton — the racquet sport where players swat a shuttlecock over a net — as an official school sport. Even in California, which has more badminton players than any other state (nearly 10,000), the sport is near the lowest in team participation, on par with golf and lacrosse. But in the Asian countries from where many families in western San Gabriel Valley hail — particularly China, Malaysia and Indonesia — badminton, an Olympic sport since 1992, is a source of national pride.
At Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, the student body is 70 percent Asian and the sport is serious business. Junior Alice Liew, the daughter of immigrants from Malaysia, was determined not to let her favorite pastime go without a fight. Within days of creating the Facebook page, “Save High School Badminton in California,” 1,000 students from schools across the state had joined the movement, and supporters began to strategize about how to get parents involved, visit school board meetings and draft petitions.
Badminton is still in danger of being cut, with the school system facing an ongoing state budget crisis. But in past months, one more season was played, which Liew considered a "personal victory."
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