I showed up to work one day and was completely oblivious to the fact that there was a badminton tournament scheduled instead of morning classes. In the mad rush to make preparations it seemed that the Chinese staff had forgotten to tell the foreign teachers. So, the older Australian guy backed out at the last minute and I was forced to go in his place. Meh.
I didn’t have any workout clothes so there we were, a big group Chinese people in gym shorts and t-shirts with a big foreigner sporting the formally casual style that’s made me quite popular in our office building. We must have looked very strange. As we were walking towards a university gym several blocks away, the Chinese tutor on duty filled me in on the details. The activity was broken into several parts with a warm up, team building activity, and finally a real tournament at the end. She had tried to incorporate elements of English study into the game which seemed a little unnecessary to me. It’s a sport! Just let people play!
Anyway, the students, about 15 or so, were split into 2 groups. I was the coach of one and the tutor had the others. All the boys wanted to join my team and so we had to trade a few people to balance the groups out and make things more fair. While the tutor played her warm up games with her team, I used the time that she was distracted to instruct my players in the ways of ruthless brutality. I told them how to kill, how to maim, and how to win. I told them that I would not accept failure of any kind and that if they performed poorly that I would send them to the salt mines of Xinjiang for the rest of their lives. There’s nothing like a motivating speech to encourage athletes.
We finished the exercises and jumped into the main event. I drew out a roster that pitted our teams together and acted as a co-referee with the tutor. Also, when my player started to lose I would call a time out and go give them a good finger-wagging, just like a real coach! Eventually, the tutor (a girl btw) and I squared off in a match of epic proportions in which she was beaten 5-3. This only served to cement my legend as the King of Badminton.
My players utterly and completely destroyed their opponents and a young man, English name is Zack, became the student champion. We were presented with a box of chocolates for me and coupons for 15 days of free classes for all the students on my team. The losing players walked back to class, heads dipped down in shame, while we celebrated our victory with a game of extreme badminton. Think normal badminton but with prison rules. It’s crazy!
The inside of the gym was sweltering hot and my dress shirt was soaked with sweat so I went back to the office and sat in a muscle shirt until class started. The whole event was much more fun than I was led to believe and the Australian teacher’s eyes were filled with envy when he beheld my awesome fury in the photos. See for yourself! How do you like my Leaping Tiger Style?