Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Thoughts on Hindrances (actually a rant, as it turns out)
Let me just get to the point with this one: I think it's funny that the most annoying grunters on tour are not getting penalized while the innocent—namely Virginie Razzano—evidently are.
Okay, maybe funny is the wrong word, and maybe hindrance is the wrong word too. How about annoying? How about I can't hear myself think when your match is on the telly?
Can we just implement a new rule and stick it in the ITF/ WTA rulebook right along the hindrance rule that lends a little more clarity to the debate that never seems to die.
Wait...Is it even a debate? Is there anybody out there who thinks that Victoria Azarenka's (sorry for singling you out kid, but your name just seems to come to mind) tennis soundscape is even remotely okay? The fans hate it, the commentators hate it, her peers hate it—I mean what else do we need to know to realize that it's basically bad for the game and should be made to stop?
And yet, several years on—decades, really—the debate that shouldn't even be debated continues...
Well, because there is a lot of grey area in there. How do you penalize a player without a rule designed to penalize them? Can we just stop the match and have a vote? If you think Victoria Azarenka's yodeling is unsuitable for the modern game, vote to strip her of her ranking until she pipes down! And if she ever grunts again while knocking off a touch volley at net, she will be suspended for at least one year!
Ah, but it's not that simple, it really isn't. Truth is, as much as it is clearly in poor taste to grunt like many professional tennis players do, the inmates are clearly running the asylum here. You don't believe me? Look at the the WTA rankings. No. 1 and No. 2 could start a thrash-punk band with all the dissonant wailing they do while they play.
I could ramble on, but really what's the point? The wrong people are getting penalized for the wrong things, and the two most egregious grunters in the history of the world are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
The only thing I can think of is this:
Let's let the fans decide. Give each fan a handful of tennis balls prior to each match that they attend. Tell them that if they find any players vocal stylings to be a "hindrance" that they are then free to toss said tennis balls at said player. Consider it justice prevailing in an otherwise unjust world.
In closing, I'd like to point out that tennis is a sport where decorum has always been a major part of its tradition. It's a sport where people say sorry for getting a point from a lucky let cord; it's a sport where fans are forced to be quiet during points; it's the safe haven of the sporting world, where bookworms, geeks, and those who appreciate how much a little silence can say congregate.
No flash cameras here; wait in the aisles until the changeover, please; Shhhhhh!!!! Quiet Please!!!!
All that is well and good, but how good is it when the players on the court are screaming such bloody murder that the paying customers can't even hear the strings pop?
I'll answer that for you: NOT VERY GOOD!
And yet, the debate that shouldn't even be debated lingers on. This is one of those things, like death and taxes, that we'll be destined to complain about and never, ever solve.
Posted by Chris Oddo at 9:17 PM