Wednesday, September 08, 2010

On Being A Sad Tennis Fan

“Remember,” Grandma Laura repeated,
“that all the things in the modern world, now,
all the things that make today’s world modern,
existed way back, when I was your age.
Global commerce and communication,
global culture in art, architecture,
entertainment. And global politics.
All those things existed. But everything
was different. It was a different world then.”

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates!
#4: “Let Me Tell You The Good Life”

A planet of evil clowns
Where sex isn’t love or fun
Sex is a feeding frenzy
Blood and spit and other things
Smearing the clown wide-eye smiles
Strange patterns on strange tattoos
Endless new scars on old scars

“This Was A Different World”

Today’s post is odd, but it is something that is really bothering me.

I’ve been a tennis fan for a long time. Since about seventh grade, in fact. The businessmen behind tennis—at least behind American tennis—often make strange decisions. And the players that retire from playing and become “commentators” on television often say odd things.

You just get used to that kind of stuff. Sometimes it’s embarrassing to be a fan of any sport when a high-profile personality connected to the sport does something unpleasant. Football has had its share of bad characters. Golf had—and has!—its oddball characters.

Sometimes I wonder how much of this is just standard operating procedures for modern sports and how much of this is a manifestation of modern culture cracking under the pressures of the modern world.

A lot of the weird things about tennis are just bizarre. A year or two ago the businessmen behind American tennis got Liza Minnelli to sing at the opening ceremony for the US Open. Liza Minnelli? What the hell was that about? A few years ago, when Anna Kournikova was fifteen years old, she started going out with some thirty-year old professional hockey player. Chris Evert on the air said that the relationship would be “good” for Kournikova because the older hockey player would keep her “grounded.” Yeah, right. Would Chris feel that way if her teenage daughter were going out with a middle-age athlete?

Over the years tennis businessmen have promoted various stars even after sales of tennis products and polls of tennis fans have demonstrated that hardcore tennis fans didn’t really like the stars—most notably the young Jennifer Capriati and both Williams sisters. Such “celebrity” players generate high TV ratings but have never generated much excitement for the game. The tennis businessmen say as much when the Wall Street Journal does features about the business of tennis, but nonetheless the tennis businessmen blindly promote whatever tennis celebrities generate TV ratings. Yech.

Anyway, here’s the latest thing along these lines that’s bugging me. And it’s happening right now.

Right now we are late in week two of the 2010 US Open tournament. This is when the competition heats up, when the matches get good, when only the serious players remain in the draw.

Here is the schedule for tomorrow evening’s center-court “feature” matches:

So the actual tournament play is postponed because first up on center court will be an exhibition match between Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova playing Mats Wilander and Pat Cash.


Martina Hingis tested positive for cocaine at the 2007 Wimbledon.

Mats Wilander tested positive for cocaine at the 1995 French Open.

Path Cash has written about his drug use in his autobiography.

Anna Kournikova has never won a tournament. She’s pretty and she’s never been linked to drugs—publically—but she’s never even won a tournament.

(The Times Online: High Society, by Pat Cash, and Tennis players and recreational drug use)

What kind of sport invites a bunch of disgraced has-beens to return and be a featured part of the sport? What kind of sport pushes back the real competition for an exhibition that’s something like a circus act, old women playing against old men? What kind of sport mixes real sport with sports entertainment?

Sometimes it’s very hard being a tennis fan.

Sometimes it seems the movers-and-shakers who define tennis are desperate to turn the sport into a new version of professional wrestling.

But I can’t help wondering: Is this is a problem with tennis, or a problem with Western culture, with the planet as a whole?

I don’t know.

But I will not be tuning in to watch the “exhibition” before the real tennis Thursday evening.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates! #1: Grandma Laura

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates! #2: How It Works

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates! #3: The Paperclip Nazis

Free Energy! Light Without Heat! Lifts And Separates! #4: “Let Me Tell You The Good Life”

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