LOCALNOTIONS

MUSINGS ON A VARIETY OF TOPICS WHICH MIGHT BE OF INTEREST TO THOSE CAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING. NOT THAT THE WORLD WILL BECOME A BETTER PLACE, BUT, IT COULD BE! AT LEAST THE IDEAS EXIST FOR FUTURE CONSIDERATION! ENJOY, T.O.M.

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Location: FLORIDA, United States

1) TOO MANY INTERESTS; TOO MUCH EDUCATION; AND NOT ENOUGH ABILITIES OR TIME. HOWEVER, ONE NEVER KNOWS WHAT IS POSSIBLE UNTIL ONE VENTURES INTO THE ARENA. 2)THIS BLOG MIGHT BE CONSIDERED AN EXAMINATION OF THE "OLD SAW" AS TO WHETHER "THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD". 3)THE FEATURE THAT SEPARATES THIS BLOG FROM "THE OTHERS" ARE THE "OPTIONS PRESENTED" FOR IMPROVING THE LOT OF MANKIND. UNTIL "OTHERS" HAVE "BETTER IDEAS", I REMAIN COMMITTED TO THESE. VAMOS A VER! 4) DON'T PARSE! YOU'LL "MISS" THE "POINT(S)".

9/14/2006

WHAT'S WRONG WITH TENNIS?

AVITW

I SEE WHERE IT RECENTLY RAINED EXCESSIVELY ON THE PARADE OF TENNIS STARS GATHERED FOR A MAJOR COMPETITIVE EVENT DOOMED BY ARCHAIC REGULATIONS TO DRAG ON UNTIL THE LOYAL SPECTATORS (IN PERSON OR AT HOME) FALL ASLEEP IN THE WEE HOURS OF THE MORNING AS THE BALL CONTINUES TO CROSS THE ARTIFICIAL OBSTACLE CREATED FOR THE PURPOSE OF TERMINATING SUCH ENDLESS (MINDLESS?) ENTERTAINMENT. THOSE LIVING IN THE DISTANT PAST, WHO CREATED THE RULES THAT PERMIT SUCH MIND NUMBING (IF NOT THE NUMBING OF ANOTHER PART OF ONES ANATOMY) ACTIVITY, HAD NEVER ENCOUNTERED THE CHALLENGES OF A: PARTICIPANTS WITH NEARLY ENDLESS STAMINA, B: EQUIPMENT WHICH IS REGULARLY REPLACED, AS EVEN THE NEWEST MATERIALS CANNOT STAND UP TO SUCH A TEST OF ENDURANCE, C: WORLD WIDE INTEREST CROSSING INTERNATIONAL TIME ZONES AND D: THE AVARICE OF BROADCASTERS AND ADVERTISERS WHO THRIVE ON SUCH A LARGE “CAPTIVE AUDIENCE” AND FIND THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS PLAY A PERFECT PLATFORM FOR REPEATING THE SAME COMMERCIAL AN ENDLESS NUMBER OF TIMES, BUT I DIGRESS.

ONE CANNOT DENY THAT SPORTS OCCUPY AN INORDINATE POSITION IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETIES IN RELATION TO THEIR ACTUAL IMPORTANCE TO THE SURVIVAL OF THOSE SOCIETIES. ONE POSTULATES THAT ANY SOCIETY WHICH CONDONES THE INCALCULABLE OUTLAY OF RESOURCES (TIME, MONEY, ENERGY AND PERSONEL ON SUCH AN ACTIVITY, (ENTERTAINMENT?) SHOULD NOT LAMENT THE LACK OF RESOURCES FOR OTHER ENDEAVORS SUCH AS EDUCATION, MEDICAL CARE AND RESEARCH, HOUSING AND HUNGER, TRANSPORTATION AND COMMUNICATION, OR SAFETY AND NATIONAL DEFENSE. IT IS SIMPLY A MATTER OF PRIORITIES, NOT A LACK OF RESOURCES, BUT THAT IS ANOTHER TOPIC.


THAT IS NOT TO SAY THAT SPORTS DO NOT HAVE ANY VALUE. IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THERE ARE SOME SOCIAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSICAL VALUES ASSOCIATED WITH PARTICIPATING IN, AND/OR WATCHING SPORTS AND, AS WITH MOST ACTIVITIES, THERE ARE BOTH POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ASPECTS. THE AUTHOR, BEING A FORMER PARTICIPANT AND PRESENT ADVOCATE OF THE POSITIVE VALUES IN SPORTS, DERIVED MORE IN THE PARTICIPATION THAN THE WATCHING, FINDS THE TROUBLING INTERVENTION OF WEATHER ON THE SPORT OF TENNIS TO BE LITTLE MORE THAN A MINOR SOURCE OF IRRITATION FOR THOSE INVOLVED IN WATCHING TENNIS. OF COURSE, THOSE WHO MUST SCHEDULE, COMPETE AND BROADCAST THE EVENT, MIGHT HAVE A DIFFERENT REACTION.

WHILE DECRYING THE NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF PROFESSIONAL SPORTS, WHICH WILL PERSIST REGARDLESS OF THEIR HARMFUL INFLUENCE, THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF TENNIS AS ENTERTAINMENT OR SPORT, MIGHT CONSIDER SOME CHANGES WHICH WOULD GREATLY DECREASE THE FRUSTRATION IN WATCHING AND GREATLY INCREASE THE EFFICACY OF THE PROCESS, TO SAY NOTHING OF THE PROFITABILITY, WHICH IS ALWAYS THE DRIVING FORCE IN ENTERTAINMENT. ATTRACTING MORE VIEWERS (IN PERSON AND AT HOME) AND FACILITATING A MORE USER FRIENDLY METHOD OF SCHEDULING AND BROADCASTING TOURNAMENTS ARE AT LEAST A FIRST STEP IN CORRECTING “WHAT’S WRONG WITH TENNIS”.


BEFORE ACCENTUATING THE POSITIVE, ONE WOULD DO WELL TO ELUCIDATE THE NEGATIVES UNDER THE PRESENT SYSTEM. THE FIRST NEGATIVE IS THE “UNCERTAINTY” ASSOCIATED WITH ANY GIVEN MATCH. SINCE MATCHES BEGIN AND END WITHOUT REGARD TO THE TIME INVOLVED, ONE NEVER KNOWS, WHETHER SHOWING UP ON TIME, OR A FEW MINUTES LATE, (OR THE ELECTRONIC EQUIVALENT OF TURNING ON THE T.V.) MEANS THAT THE MATCH IS HALF OVER, AS HAPPENS ALL TOO FREQUENTLY WITH THE PRESENT WOMEN’S FORMAT OR WHETHER ONE WILL BE SUBJECTED TO A MULTI-HOUR DELAY WHILE TWO PLAYERS, OF EQUALLY UNINTERESTING ABILITY, MONOPOLIZE THE COURT ANDTHE EAGERLY ANTICIPATED MATCH PLAYERS COOL THEIR EXPENSIVE HEELS IN THE UNKNOWN RECESSES OF THE STADIUM.


IN THE FORMER, ONE OFTEN FEELS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN "SHORT CHANGED" BY THE BREVITY OF SUCH MATCHES WHEN THEY HAVE GONE TO THE TIME AND TROUBLE TO INCLUDE SUCH A PASTIME IN THEIR BUSY SCHEDULE. MUCH LIKE A FIGHT WITH A FIRST ROUND KNOCKOUT, THERE IS NOT TIME TO SETTLE INTO THE MATCH AND WATCH IT DEVELOP TOWARD SOME TYPE OF INTERESTING CLIMAX BEFORE IT IS OVER. ON THE OTHER END OF THE SPECTRUM, ONE ATTENDS OR WATCHES A MEN’S BEST OF FIVE SETS, NOT KNOWING IF THERE WILL BE TIME IN HIS OR HER LIFE FOR ANYTHING ELSE. THE MATCHES CAN DRAG ON FOR FOUR OR MORE HOURS, UNTIL ONLY THOSE WITH A PERSONAL OR FINANCIAL INTEREST EVEN CARE WHO WINS. FOR A FORTUNATE FEW, SOME MATCHES ARE WELL PLAYED AND THE SATISFACTORY RESOLUTION OF WHICH PLAYER IS PLAYING BETTER ON THIS PARTICULAR DAY, AND UNDER THESE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES, IS DECIDED IN A TIMELY MANNER, WHICH IS NOT TOO SHORT OR NOT TOO LONG; GOLDILOCKS ODDS, AT BEST.


SINCE THE WATCHING OF SPORTS IS SOLELY FOR PURPOSES OF ENTERTAINMENT, THE TRADITIONALISTS WHO PERPETUATE THE CURRENT FORMAT OF PLAY CREATE, IN THE NAME OF TRADITION OR SOME OTHER EXCUSE, SUFFICIENT DIFFICULTIES IN THE SCHEDULING AND WATCHING OF TENNIS SO AS TO ALIENATE MANY PEOPLE WHO WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND A SPECIAL MATCH, OR VIEW IT ON TELEVISION. AS NOTED ABOVE, NO ONE HAS ANY IDEA WHEN A GIVEN MATCH WILL BEGIN OR WHEN IT WILL END. ADDITIONALLY, THESE GOOD PEOPLE RUN THE RISK OF SETTING ASIDE TIME AND MONEY FOR A MATCH THAT COULD BE OVER, ALMOST BEFORE IT BEGINS. OF COURSE, THEY COULD ALSO BE ENSNARED IN A MATCH THAT SEEMS LIKE IT WILL NEVER END. NEITHER OFFERS A SATISFACTORY OPTION TO THOSE WITH OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES, OR OPTIONS, WHICH INCLUDES MOST OF THE CIVILIZED WORLD.


NEED IT BE SAID THAT WATCHING OF TAPED MATCHES, HERETOFOR UNSEEN, WHERE THE WHOLE WORLD KNOWS THE OUTCOME BEFORE THE BROADCAST STARTS, COMES IN A CLOSE SECOND TO "KISSING YOUR SISTER"IN TERMS OF INTEREST AND/OR PLEASURE. WHEN SUCH BROADCASTS ARE OF MATCHES, WHICH ARE ONLY DIM MEMORIES FROM THE “ANCIENT PAST”, INSULT IS ADDED TO INJURY. WHY BOTHER? THE NEWS HIGHLIGHTS ARE MORE THAN SUFFICIENT TO SATISFY PASSING CURIOSITY, IF ANY EXISTS IN YESTERDAY’S MATCH.


OTHER SPORTS WRESTLE (NO PUN INTENDED) WITH MANAGING THEIR PRODUCT SO AS TO FACILITATE A REASONABLE TIME FRAME FOR PRESENTATION AND TO CREATE A REASONABLE FORMAT FOR BUILDING INTEREST AND PROVIDING GOOD VALUE FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS. WHY ARE THOSE INVOLVED IN TENNIS SO OBLIVIOUS TO THE OBVIOUS?

TREMENDOUS RESOURCES HAVE BEEN INVESTED IN RESEARCH INTO THE LATEST EQUIPMENT, TRAINING, MANAGEMENT AND PROMOTING OF THE PRODUCT (TENNIS). STILL,THESE SELDOM PRODUCE THE DESIRED RESULT, E.G. AN INTERESTING AND ENTERTAINING MATCH WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME FRAME. PERHAPS IT IS TIME FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DEVOTED THEIR LIFE TO THE SPORT AND ASCENDED TO THE IVORY TOWERS OF POWER, WHICH NOW SEPARATE THEM FROM REALITY, TO RECOGNIZE, AS NICOLAS COPERNICUS DID LONG AGO, THAT THE WORLD AT LARGE DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND TENNIS, OR WAS IT THAT THE SUN DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND THE EARTH?


AT THAT POINT, (AND WHEN PIGS FLY?) PERHAPS SOME PROGRESS COULD BE MADE TOWARD PRESENTING TENNIS COMPETITION IN A FORMAT MORE ACCEPTABLE IN THE REAL WORLD, IF FOR NO OTHER REASONS THAN ECONOMIC SURVIVAL AND TO ATTRACT A MULTITUDE OF NEW FANS, IF NOT PERSONS WHO MIGHT ACTUALLY BE TEMPTED TO PICK UP A RACKET, OR AT LEAST ENCOURAGE THEIR CHILDREN TO DO SO. IT IS POSTULATED THAT THE TWO JUST MIGHT BE INTERRELATED.


ONE DOES NOT NEED TO REINVENT THE TIME FRAME FOR ENTERTAINMENT IN THE MODERN WORLD. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THEATERS DO NOT SHOW FILMS THAT END IN LESS THAN AN HOUR, AS DO NUMEROUS WOMEN’S MATCHES. NEITHER DOES ANYONE OFFER MOTION PICTURES (OR T.V. SHOWS) THAT LAST FOR FOUR, OR MORE, HOURS. SAVE THE OCCASIONAL WAGNERIAN OPERA, THE SAME IS TRUE FOR PLAYS, POP PERFORMANCES OR CLASSICAL CONCERTS. EVEN THE BIG THREE OF FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL AND BASEBALL, HAVE THEIR EYES ON THE CLOCK (AND THE REVENUE FROM TELEVISION) AND DO NOT STRAIN THE PHYSICAL, IF NOT MENTAL ENDURANCE OF THEIR LOYAL ADHERENTS.

GOLF, WHICH OFTEN STARTS WITH THE “ALSO RANS” EARLY IN THE MORNING, DOES NOT START BROADCASTING AT THE BREAK OF DAWN AND CONTINUE WELL INTO THE LATE NIGHT OR EARLY MORNING OF THE NEXT DAY. INSTEAD, THEY CHOOSE TO SHOW ONLY THOSE IN CONTENTION TOWARDS THE END OF THEIR ROUNDS, FOR A PERIOD GENERALLY LASTING NO MORE THAN 3 HOURS (MAYBE 4, IF IT IS A MAJOR) AND THEY CERTAINLY DO NOT PROVIDE ONLY 55 MINUTES OF ENTERTAINMENT BY THEIR STAR PLAYERS.


WHILE CULTURAL EVENTS HAVE KNOWN ENDINGS WHICH PERMIT THE SCHEDULING OF OTHER ACTIVITIES AFTERWARDS, SPORTING EVENTS, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF BASEBALL, HAVE, AS THEIR MAIN ATTRACTION, THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE OUTCOME WHICH HOLDS THE INTEREST OF THE ATTENDEES AND VIEWERS TO THE POINT WHERE THE OUTCOME IS DECIDED WITHIN A PRESCRIBED FORMAT AND REASONABLE TIME FRAME. PERHAPS BASEBALL HAS SOME UNFINISHED BUSINESS ALSO, BUT I DIGRESS AGAIN.

AS SOMETIMES HAPPENS IN CLOSE COMPETITION, NOT THROW AWAY EXERCISES IN FUTILITY, THERE MAY BE A PRESCRIBED EXTENTION OF THE INTEREST THROUGH EXTRA TIME PERIODS OR A TIE BREAKING FORMAT. SELDOM DOES ONE SEE FANS LEAVING OR HEAR THE CLICKING OF TELEVISION SETS BEING TURNED OFF OUT OF TOTAL FRUSTRATION (OR EXHAUSTION) WHEN THE OUTCOME IS IN DOUBT AND WILL BE DECIDED IN A TIMELY MANNER.

WHY NOT TENNIS? AH! TRADITION! THE BANE OF TEVYE, AMONG OTHERS, WHO, IN THE END, SUCCUMBED TO SOME PROGRESS, ALBEIT RELUCTANTLY. WOULD THAT TENNIS SHOULD BE SO FORTUNATE AS TO HAVE SUCH ENLIGHTENED LEADERSHIP!

THINK FOR A MOMENT, WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF OTHER SPORTS, TAKING FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL AND GOLF FOR EXAMPLES, CONDUCTED THEIR ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS AS IS DONE IN TENNIS. THEY WOULD SELL TICKETS, PROVIDE LUXURIOUS FACILITIES, SELL ADVERTISING, RECEIVE UNCONSCIONABLE AMOUNTS OF MONEY FOR BROADCASTING RIGHTS AND THEN TELL THOSE WHO PARTED WITH A SMALL FORTUNE:

"WE DON’T KNOW WHO WILL BE PLAYING AT ANY GIVEN TIME AND, EVEN THOUGH CERTAIN PLAYERS WILL BE PLAYING EACH OTHER, WE HAVE NO IDEA WHEN THEIR COMPETITION WILL BEGIN. WE ALSO HAVE NO IDEA IF THE COMPETITION WILL CONTINUE (THINK RAIN OR INJURY) AND WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW LONG IT WILL LAST. ON TOP OF THAT, WE DON'T EVEN KNOW IF THE MATCH WILL BE FINISHED IN ONE DAY (OR NIGHT)”,

MUCH LESS WITHIN THE SPECIFIC 2 TO 3 HOUR ATTENTION SPAN THAT MOST SPECTATORS, BE THEY LIVE OR IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD, HAVE TO DEVOTE TO “ENTERTAINMENT”.


ONE CANNOT THINK OF A SPORT, EXCEPT FOR TENNIS, WHERE THE FIRST HALF OF THE COMPETION CONSISTS OF “THROW AWAY” MIS-MATCHES (THINK RANKINGS OF 1 THROUGH 32 AGAINST RANKINGS 65 THROUGH 128) OF NO CONSEQUENCE TO THE ACTUAL OUTCOME OF THE COMPETITION. DOES ANYONE KEEP TRACK OF HOW MANY OF THESE LOWER RANKED PLAYERS GET PAST THE FIRST ROUND AGAINST THE TOP RANKED PLAYERS? IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS OF INTEREST IN TENNIS, I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH STATISTICS, NOR KNOWN OF ANYONE INTERESTED IN SUCH NONSENSE. OF COURSE THERE MAY BE A GOOD REASON FOR THIS. WHO WOULD WANT TO PUBLICIZE THE BASIC STUPIDITY OF THIS FORMAT?


ONE ADVANTAGE THAT GOLF HAS OVER TENNIS IS THAT EVERY PLAYER PLAYS AGAINST EVERY OTHER PLAYER IN A TOURNAMENT. HOWEVER, IN TENNIS, ONES “SUCCESS” IN A GIVEN TOURNAMENT OFTEN DEPENDS ON DRAWING AN “EASY” ROSTER OF OPPONENTS, WHILE OTHERS, PERHAPS OF HIGHER ABILITY, ARE OFTEN “SENT PACKING” BECAUSE THEY UNFORTUNATELY HAD TO PLAY ONE OF THE EVENTUAL FINALISTS IN THE EARLY ROUNDS. GOLF, AS DO MOST SPORTS, ASSURES THAT, ONLY THE BEST, THEIR "STARS" AND THE OCCASIONAL “FUTURE STAR” PROGRESS THROUGH THE COMPETITION AND MAKE IT TO THE WEEKEND OR HIGHER LEVELS, BETTER KNOWN AS THE SECOND WEEK IN TENNIS.


ONE WONDERS HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD TURN ON THEIR TELEVISION SET OR BUY TICKETS, MUCH LESS HAVE ANY INTEREST, IF PROFESSIONAL TEAMS COMPETED AGAINST “NO NAME” AMATEURS (MINOR LEAGUES, HIGH SCHOOL OR SMALL COLLEGE TEAMS?) AS A "WARM UP"TO THE REAL COMPETITION FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP. WHO WOULD WATCH? WHO WOULD CARE? HOW PREDICTABLE WOULD BE THE OUTCOME?


IF THE OTHER SPORT/ENTERTAINMENT ENTERPRISES USED A SYSTEM WHERE THE COMPETITION MIGHT END IN LESS THAN ONE HOUR, BECAUSE OF THE INEQUITIES BETWEEN THE COMPETITORS, INSTEAD OF THE POTENTIAL 2-3 HOURS THAT FANS WISH TO SEE AND ENJOY AND, FOR WHICH, TV NETWORKS AND ADVERTISERS PAY HUGE SUMS OF MONEY, IS THERE ANY DOUBT THAT THE LACK OF INTEREST WOULD SOON EMPTY THE SEATS OF ALL BUT A FEW WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO? EVEN WORSE, WHO WOULD BE WILLING TO PAY FOR, MUCH LESS ENDURE, INTERMINABLE HOURS OF “COMPETITION” BETWEEN SIDES (INDIVIDUALS OR TEAMS) WITHOUT MERIT?


IN THE WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT, ONE DOUBTS THAT INDIVIDUALS WOULD REACT FAVORABLY TO SEEKING TEMPORARY SHELTER WHILE WATCHING THE RAIN FALL OR TO VIEWING WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY, LAST WEEK OR TEN YEARS AGO, AS IS DONE IN TENNIS TO FILL TIME SLOTS WHEN THE REAL COMPETITION IS NOT AVAILABLE AS HAPPENS IN THE EVENT OF RAIN. RAIN CHECKS (NOT THAT THEY ARE OFFERED) SERVE LITTLE PURPOSE TO THOSE WHOSE LIVES ARE LIVED IN MEASURED TIME BLOCKS. JUDGING FROM THE EMPTY SEATS, THE EXODUS OF THE HEBREWS FROM EGYPT WOULD BE CONSIDERED SMALL POTATOES COMPARED TO THE PRESENT FLIGHT OF FRUSTRATED CONSUMERS.


ONE ALSO WONDERS WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF ONE OF THE COMPETITORS DECIDED THEY WERE NOT PLAYING VERY WELL IN A GIVEN SEGMENT OF COMPETITION AND KNEW THAT LOSING THE THIRD ROUND OR QUARTER FOR EXAMPLE, WOULD HAVE NO EFFECT ON THE FINAL OUTCOME? WHAT IF A GOLFER DECIDED NOT TO PLAY A HOLE WHERE HE WENT OUT OF BOUNDS, HIT INTO THE WATER OR GOT LOST IN THE WILDERNESS, KNOWING HE COULD WIN THE NEXT HOLE AND THE MATCH? YET, THIS OCCURS ALL TOO FREQUENTLY IN TENNIS (THINK "TANKING" A SET THAT IS NOT GOING WELL) IN ORDER TO GET TO THE NEXT SET.


TENNIS, DESPITE ALL OF THESE ANOMALIES, PLUS THE CAPRICIOUS BEHAVIOR OF “RETIRING”, IF HAVING A BAD DAY, OR EXHIBITING “UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT” TO THE DISCOMFITURE OF ALL, OBVIOUSLY HAS A STRONG ATTRACTION. HOWEVER, UNLIKE OTHER SPORTS, WHERE THE "PERPETRATOR" OF SUCH "GAMESMANSHIP" IS REMOVED FROM THE GAME AND/OR FINED A SUBSTANTIAL SUM OF MONEY, TENNIS PLAYERS ARE SUMMARILY AWARDED A SLAP ON THE WRIST BECAUSE DISQUALIFICATION, OR INELIGIBILITY FOR A FUTURE TOURNAMENT, WOULD ABRUPTLY END THE PRESENT COMPETITION AND, PERHAPS, ELIMINATE ONE OF THE STARS THAT PEOPLE PAY TO SEE AND THAT COMMERCIAL SUPPORTERS DEMAND REMAIN IN THE GAME IN ORDER TO RECEIVE A RETURN ON THEIR INVESTMENT.


THE LITANY OF ABSURDITIES IN COMPOUNDED BY THE CONTINUATION OF THE "TRADITION" OF USING NON-PROFESSIONAL OFFICIALS CALLED LINESMEN, OR PERHAPS LINESPEOPLE TO BE POLITICALLY CORRECT. THAT THEY ARE WRONG A SUFFICIENT NUMBER OF TIMES TO AFFECT THE OUTCOME OF A MATCH (TOURNAMENT?) IS A MATTER OF RECORD. IN ANY GIVEN MATCH, THE NUMBER OF OVERRULES AND THE FAILURE TO OVERRULE WREAKS HAVOC WITH THE FAIRNESS OF THE GAME AND ENCOURAGES THE "GAMESMANSHIP" ENGAGED IN BY SOME PLAYERS WHO SEEK TO INTIMIDATE THESE POOR SOULS. FOR THE MOST PART, THESE INDIVIDUALS ARE DOING THE BEST THEY CAN, HOWEVER, WITH INCREASING ACCURACY OF THE PLAYERS AND INCREASING BALL SPEED, IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH, AS IS NOW WELL DOCUMENTED THROUGH SCIENTIFIC ADVANCEMENTS IN TRACKING AND DETERMINING WHETHER A BALL IS, IN FACT, IN OR OUT.

THANKS TO THE TRADITIONALISTS, TENNIS REMAINS A SPORT OPERATING BY 19th CENTURY STANDARDS IN THE 21st CENTURY. SURELY, IT IS ADVANTAGEOUS TO ALL CONCERNED TO "GET IT RIGHT" TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE WITH MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND A REVISION OF THE COMPETITIVE REGULATIONS. UNFORTUNATELY, PROGRESS IN THIS DIRECTION REMAINS PAINFULLY SLOW.

RETURNING TO THE CONUNDRUM AT HAND, AND, GIVEN THE AFORMENTIONED PROBLEMS, THE MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION IS NOT "WHAT IS WRONG WITH TENNIS?", BUT “WHY” IS THE TENNIS ESTABLISHMENT NOT DEALING WITH THESE ISSUES IN ORDER TO PERPETUATE THE SPORT AND INCREASE THE INTEREST IN PARTICIPATION AND VIEWING?


SINCE THE AUTHOR KNOWS OF NO SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH SUPPORTING THE HYPOTHESIS THAT PERSONS INVOLVED IN TENNIS ARE LESS INTELLIGENT THAN PERSONS INVOLVED IN OTHER SPORTS, PERHAPS THE ANSWER LIES IN AN ENTRENCHED BUREAUCRACY AND INERTIA. REGARDLESS, WHAT SHOULD BE DONE? WHAT CAN BE DONE? WHAT WILL BE DONE? THESE ARE THE FOCI OF THIS ARTICLE.


FIRST, TENNIS MUST ADAPT TO THE TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE TO ENSURE FAIR COMPETITION. THE SPORT WOULD STILL BE USING WOODEN RACKETS AND THE PLAYERS WOULD BE RUNNING AROUND IN PANTALOONS (FOR WOMEN) AND FORMAL ATTIRE (FOR MEN) IF THE SAME REASONING WAS APPLIED TO EQUIPMENT AND DRESS THAT IS APPLIED TO TOURNAMENT FORMATS AND OFFICIATING.


SECONDLY, THE ABSURDITY OF ADMITTING PERSONS WITH NO CHANCE OF ADVANCING TO THE "SECOND WEEK", ESPECIALLY IN THE “MAJOR” TOURNAMENTS, NEEDS TO BE RE-EXAMINED AND PROBABLY ELIMINATED. THE PRACTICE OF HAVING UNQUALIFIED PLAYERS ADVANCE BY BEATING OTHER UNQUALIFIED PLAYERS ADDS NOTHING TO THE DESIRABLITY, OR VIABILITY, OF THE “MAJOR” TOURNAMENTS, WHICH ARE SUPPOSED TO SHOWCASE THE TOP PROFESSIONALS THAT THE GENERAL PUBLIC WANTS TO SEE.


DESPITE THE OBVIOUS TALENT REQUIRED AND DIFFICULTY INVOLVED IN PLAYING TENNIS FOR MONEY (THE DEFINITION OF A PROFESSIONAL), FEW PUBLIC INDIVIDUALS KNOW OR WANT TO SEE A PLAYER BELOW THE WORLD RANKING OF 48th (MAYBE 32?) IN A HIGH STAKES TOURNAMENT. PERHAPS NUMBERS 49 AND 50 COULD BE ON STAND-BY IN CASE OF INJURY OR ILLNESS TO A HIGHER RANKED PLAYER. LIKE OTHER SPORTS, ASPIRING CHAMPIONS AND OVER-THE-HILL PLAYERS, SHOULD BE RELEGATED TO THE "MINOR LEAGUES" (MINOR TOURNAMENTS?) OF TENNIS.


OF COURSE, THIS IS BASICALLY WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FIRST ROUND OF MAJOR TOURNAMENTS AND WOULD NOT BE MISSED BY THE MAJORITY OF FANS AND COMMERCIAL SUPPORTERS WHOM, I SUSPECT, GENERALLY DON'T WATCH THESE MATCHES ANYHOW. THE OBVIOUS ADVANTAGES TO COMPETITIVE PLAYERS OF NOT HAVING TO PLAY A "THROWAWAY" MATCH (OR TWO) SHOULD BE REFLECTED IN THE QUALITY OF PLAY, THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN MORE TOURNAMENTS (OR RECUPERATE BETWEEN SAID TOURNAMENTS) AND FEWER INJURIES TO THE TOP PLAYERS.


STILL, THE MOST SIGNIFICANT AREA FOR IMPROVEMENT LIES IN THE COMPETION ITSELF. GIVEN THAT TWO-THIRDS, OR MORE, OF THE MATCHES MAY BE CLASSIFIED AS TOO SHORT, TOO LONG OR TOO BORING, A CHANGE IN THE FORMAT IS CRITICAL TO IMPROVING THE APPEAL OF TENNIS TO ALL. FORTUNATELY, WHEN THE PROBLEMS ARE IDENTIFIED, THE SOLUTIONS BECOME READILY APPARENT. WOULD THAT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THESE IMPROVEMENTS WAS EQUALLY EASY.

FIRST, ALL MATCHES NEED TO BE LIMITED TO THREE SETS. THIS WILL TAKE CARE OF THOSE MATCHES WHICH ARE TOO LONG AND TOO BORING. IN ADDITION, EACH SET WILL BE OF CRITICAL IMPORTANCE AND SHOULD IMPEDE THE WILLFUL "TANKING" OF A SET.


SECONDLY, THE NUMBER OF GAMES NEEDED TO WIN A SET NEEDS TO BE RAISED TO EIGHT, PLUS THE CUSTOMARY TIEBREAK, EXCEPT FOR THE THIRD AND DECIDING SET. (REMEMBER THE OVERTIME AND OTHER PLAYOFF PROVISIONS IN OTHER SPORTS WHICH PROVIDE EVEN MORE EXCITMENT AND INTEREST THAN REGULAR COMPETITION?) THE FINAL SET SHOULD BE WON BY TWO GAMES, AS IN “OLDEN DAYS”, (NOT EVERYTHING OLD IS BAD) NOT BY ONE POINT. (NOTE: WINNING BY 8-6 IS ONE POINT MORE THAN 7-6 WHICH IS CONSIDERED "NOT WINNING".) ALL TOO FREQUENTLY THE DECIDING POINT IS GAINED BY A “CLOSE CALL” (AN ERROR IN OFFICIATING IN THE VIEWOINT OF THE LOSER). IT IS SUGGESTED THAT A POSSIBLE ERROR IN OFFICIATING ONE POINT DOES NOT REALLY QUALIFY AS “WINNING” AFTER AN EPIC STRUGGLE LEADING TO THE FINALE.


NOT COUNTING A THIRD AND DECIDING SET, THIS “INCREASES” THE MINIMUM NUMBER OF GAMES NEEDED TO WIN A MATCH TO 16, WHICH IS A ONE-THIRD INCREASE OVER THE 12 NOW NEEDED IN WOMEN'S TENNIS AND IS ONLY 2 LESS THAN IN A MENS "MIS-MATCH". THIS GIVES THE SPECTATORS AND INVESTORS A BETTER RETURN ON THEIR TIME AND/OR MONEY. IT ALSO GIVES THE LESSOR PLAYER MORE OF AN OPPORTUNITY TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO "GET IN THE GAME" RATHER THAN BEING OVERWHELMED IN THE TYPICAL 55 MINUTES USED BY THE WINNERS, 6-0, 6-0, WHO SELDOM NEED TO BREAK A SWEAT IN SUCH MIS-MATCHES. HOW EXCITING IS THIS TO WATCH?


THIS SAME FORMAT ALSO “REDUCES” THE NUMBER OF GAMES NEEDED TO WIN A MATCH FROM 30, IN A FIVE SET MATCH, TO 24 AND MAKES EACH SET, IF NOT EACH POINT, IMPORTANT TO THE OUTCOME OF THE COMPETITION. PLAYERS WILL OBVIOUSLY PLAY HARDER, RATHER THAN CONSERVING THEIR ENERGY, KNOWING THAT THEY WILL NOT HAVE TO FACE A 4 OR 5 HOUR ORDEAL. ADDITIONALLY, THE GAMES SHOULD BE OF A HIGHER QUALITY SINCE FATIGUED PLAYERS DO NOT MAINTAIN THEIR HIGH LEVEL OF PERFORMANCE IN ANY SPORT. A SIDE BENEFIT MAY ALSO EXIST, AS FATIGUE IS AN IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTOR TO INJURIES. THERE ARE FEW SPORTS, IF ANY, THAT DEMAND MORE OF AN INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANT THAN TENNIS. NOT EVEN THE RENOWNED MARATHON DEMANDS SUCH SKILL AND FITNESS AS DOES TENNIS.


HAVING IDENTIFIED THE "PROBLEMS" IN TENNIS AND SUGGESTED VARIOUS MEANS FOR DEALING WITH THOSE PROBLEMS, AS WELL AS PROVIDING COGENT REASONS FOR SUCH ACTION, THE AUTHOR RESTS HIS CASE. VAMOS A VER.

REMEMBER, WHAT HAPPENS IS A MATTER FOR HISTORY, BUT, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT A “LOCAL NOTION” MIGHT OFFER FOOD FOR THOUGHT TO A WIDER AUDIENCE, ESPECIALLY, THOSE IN CONTROL OF THE PRESENTLY FLAWED SYSTEM. YEAH, RIGHT!

ENJOY, TOM


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