Go to Badminton Section

United States Badminton History

Badminton has a rich history in the United States. The first badminton club in this country, the Badminton Club of New York, was formed in 1878 and became a weekend meeting place for New Yorkís society leaders. Badmintonís popularity boomed in the 1930s as educational institutions, YMCAs, and hundreds of newly formed clubs offered badminton instruction. Also spurring the sportís popularity in the 1930s was the avid play by several Hollywood personalities including James Cagney, Bette Davis, Boris Karloff, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford, and Douglas Fairbanks.

The American Badminton Association was organized in 1936 (changed to USBA in 1978), when Donald Wilbur, Robert McMillan, and twins Donald and Phillip Richardson, all of Brookline, Massachusetts, decided to unite the nationís various badminton groups. Programs from New York, Massachusetts, Chicago, and the West Coast came together to form one voice and standardize rules and regulations of the game. The ABA held its first National Championships in 1937, and became a member of the International Badminton Federation (IBF) in 1938.

The year 1949 brought the United States its first world champions as David Freeman of Pasadena, California, won menís singles at the prestigious All-England Championships (considered the unofficial world championships until 1977 when World Championships were instituted). Americans Clinton and Patsy Stevens won the All-England mixed doubles title the same year.

The United Statesí international success continued. Between 1949 and 1967, the United States won 23 world individual championships (one menís singles, 12 womenís singles, one menís doubles, eight womenís doubles, and one mixed doubles) and three womenís world team championships. The U.S. menís team was also world runner-up during this period. Sports Illustrated acknowledged the United Statesí badminton success by featuring top male player Joe Alston on the cover of its March 7, 1955 issue.

The number of U.S. clubs declined slightly in the 1970s; however, high school and collegiate play expanded.

The USBAís goals leading up to 1996 and beyond reflect its commitment to supporting U.S. badminton athletes in their quest for increased international success.

The USBA High Performance Plan, drafted in April 1994, is a detailed, comprehensive plan to achieve Olympic medals by the 2004 Games. Integral parts of that plan include establishing a resident training program at the Olympic Training Center and acquiring a fulltime internationally recognized National Coach -- both of which the USBA accomplished in 1994.

Back to top