June 11, 2003

Say it ain't so!: How could this every be a problem? She's a shrieker, what are you going to do about it? Well, apparently there is a 'hinderance' rule that can result in a loss of a point, which in this case could've been enacted to force Sharapova to stop her 'excessive grunting.' I say 'Boo WTA! Don't you know where your bread is buttered?'

posted by garfield to tennis at 02:19 PM - 26 comments

When watching tennis, I invariably pull for the quieter player. Shut up and hit the ball.

posted by Mookieproof at 02:24 PM on June 11, 2003

Mookie, what if they are both grunting? Do you prefer one grunt over another?

posted by garfield at 02:28 PM on June 11, 2003

I'll root for the quieter player--and then press mute or turn it off. I'd rather listen to Bud Collins squeal "NET CORD!" than some of these players--at the French, Kuerten was moaning with every swing. Not that I'm against all moaning and grunting, of course. Just not in my tennis.

posted by Mookieproof at 02:56 PM on June 11, 2003

I actually like to hear Anna K moaning. And a little whimpering, too. But no screaming, please. Well, except at the end. What were we talking about?

posted by worldcup2002 at 03:27 PM on June 11, 2003

I like the loud ones. It's fun to grunt, yell, scream, curse when playing tennis.

posted by corpse at 03:33 PM on June 11, 2003

Have you seen the great Monica Seles commercial where she's shopping for groceries? It's a Visa commercial I believe, she's like buying veggies and shit and everytime she goes to tear off one of the produce bags she lets out a huge grunt, or puts something in her cart she grunts, etc. It's pretty funny. It never bothers me...they probably can't help it they are exerting themselves so hard and have been playing that way for years that it would detract from their actual tennis effort to suppress it. Although...I CAN'T STAND IT when dudes do it at the gym. I'm real quiet when playing myself. (and no I didn't miss a "with" between playing and myself)

posted by vito90 at 04:03 PM on June 11, 2003

Grunt and squealing I can see. It's not like she is yelling something obscene or anything.... *Ponders Russian swear words*

posted by ITLinebacker at 04:27 PM on June 11, 2003

Sorry, garfield, in my head I keep contracting "Booooo WTA!" to "BoooTAY!" As for the grunting and such, who cares? I guarantee you at least 25 percent of the male audience is enjoying all the guttural noises farrrrr too much.

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:11 PM on June 11, 2003

[obligatory sexist comment about women's tennis] I like to close my eyes if I'm watching a women's tennis match on TV and just listen. It makes it much more entertaining. [/comment]

posted by grum@work at 05:19 PM on June 11, 2003

I need to hear this. If she tops Monica Seles, it's gotta be disturbing whole area codes. *Ponders Russian swear words* They play some faux-Russian folk music tune to get the crowd all riled up at Bruins games. My girlfriend once simultaneously grabbed and shusshed me for crying out "Pizda!" at the climax, as though the Fleet Center were filled to the brim with expatriate Cossacks.

posted by yerfatma at 05:28 PM on June 11, 2003

I played competitive tennis as a junior (was ranked), but I also played basketball. I'm bothered that tennis demands silence. What sports demand silence? It is the weakness of golf and tennis that their athletes give their fans a mean stare if they are too loud or disruptive. Why shouldn't tennis fans or their female athletes be able to make some noise? Imagine how ridiculous it would be if Tim Duncan got upset tonight because the fans were too loud when he was trying to concentrate and shoot free throws. Imagine if Duncan was in tears after the game because he was booed by the fans. Enough already. Let fans be fans and let grunters be grunters!

posted by jacknose at 07:11 PM on June 11, 2003

Sure, it's possible to be over-zealous about this. But I wonder which imposes the bigger burden--asking her being quiet, or asking every other player to adjust to it. Jacknose, I've played a little tennis, too, and it has been my experience that the sound of the ball hitting the racquet gives me some important information. For one thing, I'm certain that sound helps timing. Imagine playing with earplugs in--with no sound, you'd have to rely only on what you can see, and that would change the game more than a little, I think. What I'm saying is that tennis is unlike lots of other sports when it comes to sound. Duncan standing static at the free throw line, staring at an immobile rim, is quite different than a player trying to gauge the exact nature of a tennis shot. In basketball, fans are really doing nothing more than getting trying to get into Duncan's head, while a grunt or a cheer can obscure information critical to a tennis player. And if sound isn't critical at all, would it be okay to holler at your opponent as they are returning a shot, or in the middle of their serve?

posted by jason streed at 11:35 AM on June 12, 2003

And if sound isn't critical at all, would it be okay to holler at your opponent as they are returning a shot, or in the middle of their serve? Absolutely. It's a sport. Athletes should be able to concentrate through noise and other nusiances. One might argue that sound always gives information in all sports, with the exception of free throws. Maybe a baseball player can hear sound of a curve ball or adjust his defense according to the sound of a bat hitting a ball. But we shouldn't ask the fans to be silent. Football players must deal with not being able to hear the audibles of their quarterback (definitely critical information). The refs/umpire may ask the audience to quiet down, but they do not ask them to be silent. The players adjust. When I was playing tennis, I gained most of my information on possible angles and the positioning of my opponents racquet, as well as his tendencies. When I was en fuego, I could see the rotation of the ball. Of course, if you've play a lot of tennis, it is easy to determine when your opponent is slicing the ball or using heavy topspin, etc. I think it would help the game of tennis if they allowed a little bit more rowdiness. I remember that McEnroe argued for this a few years ago. Davis Cup tennis is more reflective of what tennis should be: flags waving and fans screaming.

posted by jacknose at 12:18 PM on June 12, 2003

Jason, great point. I couldn't agree more. Would you agree that the nature of a 'grunt' also conveys information to the opponent, and to the crowd for that matter? I think intended aural distractions are an obvious no-no, atleast for tennis, but beyond that, every sound should be fair game. Should a player get in trouble for wearing shoes that 'squeak' to loud? Probably not, regardless of the sound they make, simply because the sound is unintentionally distracting, occurs while the player is reacting to the ball, and if an opponent can't focus past the noise, that's the opponents fault. Also, tennis demands silence from its spectators, and not the players, no? Every tennis match I've ever seen has sounds occurring during points. The most damaging are the 'oohs' and 'aahs' from the stands when a point rapidly changes complexion. But the noises of players have never seemed to bother me or either player.

posted by garfield at 12:28 PM on June 12, 2003

Concentration has nothing to do with my point, really. You can concentrate all you want, and it may still be acoustically impossible to hear the sound. That's the reason the refs ask the (American) football fans to be quiet, right? To make it the play possible. (A better analogy be people waving those styrofoam noodles right behind the backboard.) Yes, backswing, footwork, etc tell you more of a player's intentions, but I still contend that most serious tennis players would agree the sound of the ball's impact is an important input. Beyond all that, is there any reason tennis has to behave like all the other sports? Isn't it okay to have an idiosyncrasy, or even a major difference, here and there? Tennis has plenty of them, and they make the game more interesting, at least to me. (My favorite: no coaching during matches.) On the other hand, if the players all get together and decide they want more noise from players and fans, that ought to be good enough for the rest of us. They're the ones with something at stake, right? Until then--and don't hold your breath for that crusade--Sharapova ought to cut it out. There's gamesmanship on both sides, here, but the rules ("it's a sport," not Calvinball) support just the one side.

posted by jason streed at 04:27 PM on June 12, 2003


posted by wfrazerjr at 04:29 PM on June 12, 2003

Calvinball primer

posted by mbd1 at 04:52 PM on June 12, 2003

Calvinball. (First Google return. Cheesy Geocities site, but it gets the job done.)

posted by jason streed at 04:53 PM on June 12, 2003

Are you kidding me?

posted by jason streed at 04:54 PM on June 12, 2003


posted by wfrazerjr at 05:08 PM on June 12, 2003

No worries, wfrazerjr. "BoooTAY!" is fine with me. Well, first of all, the players aren't the only one's with something at stake, and there are millions in endorsements that back up that point. As with all professional sports(assuming large amounts of $ are involved, of course), the games are played for the spectator at the end of the day. So if the crowds like it, which they do, most all forms of utterance will be tolerated. And yes, it is gamesmanship. And silly me, I thought that would add to the sport. And if it is such an effective way of masking one's shot, I'm surprised Sharpova's opponent didn't start grunting herself. I understand that the ball-to-racquet moment of contact provides 'important input', but this information is decipherable from mulitple sources, including the much loathed grunts and groans. So I guess the point is about concentration afterall, or lack thereof. By the way, rules aren't one-sided. They don't support, lobby, or uphold anything. They state a prescribed guide for conduct or action, in this case that if a player is hindered, the faulty player is assessed a point penalty. Last time I checked, a player making a sound when the ball is on said player's racquet is not interfering with the other player preparing to hit and subsequently hitting a return. No hindrance there.

posted by garfield at 06:04 PM on June 12, 2003


posted by Samsonov14 at 10:21 PM on June 12, 2003

. . . the games are played for the spectator at the end of the day. . . . if the crowds like it, which they do, most all forms of utterance will be tolerated. Fair enough, if you're addressing the spectator noise. I'm sure many tennis fans want to cheer more, and at different times. Whether most want to is another question, and I haven't seen any figures on this. For what it's worth, since Davis Cup supposedly lets the crowd do whatever, here's their official take: "During Davis Cup matches each country must control its supporting spectators so that play is not interrupted or disturbed. In the event that the spectators or any individual spectators supporting a country behave in such a partisan manner that play is unreasonably interrupted or the players at any time are unreasonably provoked and/or intimidated, the Referee shall penalise such country’s player in accordance with the following: FIRST Offence WARNING SECOND Offence POINT PENALTY THIRD AND EACH SUBSEQUENT Offence GAME PENALTY However, after the third partisan Crowd violation, the Referee shall determine whether each subsequent offence shall constitute a default." So even they think there ought be limits. As for changing the rules and unwritten codes of the game to fit the spectators' preferences, I can't go along with that. The question should be whether it makes the game itself any better. I'm more inclined to trust the players than the fans on that score. And silly me, I thought [gamesmanship] would add to the sport. How do petty psych-out tactics add to the sport? I think most fans come to watch good old tennis, and even if they enjoy a McEnroe-style headgame now and then, they like their sport even better when the ball's in the air. . . . rules aren't one sided. . . . Last time I checked, a player making a sound when the ball is on said player's racquet is not interfering with the other player preparing to hit and subsequently hitting a return. No hindrance there. Of course rules "support" the claims of one interested party or another. Here's a case in point--from the article you linked: "WTA Tour supervisor Donna Kelso and tournament referee Denise Parnell came on the court to ask Sharapova to lower the volume. Under the sport's "hindrance" rule, a player can be penalized a point for excessive grunting." [equivocation] I admit that my first reaction was that Dechy should have held her tongue, played her best, and gone on with the business of tennis. I still think so. Players who wave the rule book in your face play a pansified version of the sport. The idea is to do your best no matter what, and--a telling point, this--there would have been no dispute had she been winning. [/equivocation]

posted by jason streed at 10:35 PM on June 12, 2003

sammy, keep it down, i'm trying to concentrate. jason, think about why games are televised in the first place and you'll understand why the spectator comes first, and that this discussion has never disputed the legitamacy of crowd noise (US Open makes any tennis fan intimate with the constant reminders fro the ump) I should've qualified the statement with 'from the players'. (see above "tennis demands silence from its spectators, and not the players, no? ") Also, please explain how the rule complained and then penalized the loud player? Rules don't support a view, they state themselves, the complaining from opponent/enforcement by officials is where the bias/agenda enters the equation. It's where wily veterans get that moniker. Doesn't the brush-off inside pitch add tho baseball? Doesn't the hard snap count add to football? I think so. Gamesmanship takes whatever form necessary to get the job done, and adds dimensional depth to a sport. And I couldn't agree more. Complaining about your opponent's noise level is definitely a loser's argument to make.

posted by garfield at 07:26 AM on June 13, 2003

Okay, okay. Lines of text donít jump out of the rulebook and stomp onto the court, hands on hips, to assert their relevance. Players can make claims or take actions, then cite the rules as a move to support that claim or action. That is, the players support their own claims by citing rules they believe are consistent with their arguments. Sheesh. Semanticsfilter. The spectatorsí interest is whether they get their moneyís worth. Their collective decisions in response to what they see, in turn, determine whether a given event succeeds and, finally, whether players have a place to play. So, sure, satisfied spectators are the sine qua non. But players should still have some kind of say in how the game is played, right? I agree that gamesmanship is an essential part of sport as it is played, as opposed to how it is described in rulebooks. At all levels, it does give the game depth, and it admits that personalities, not robots, are at play. As an athlete, Iíve always loved the small tactics that give me an edgeóe.g. knocking a guy flat if he tries to set a pick on me. (Somtimes that one backfires, though.) On that score I was preaching against something I donít practice ;-) (Iím turning around a bit on this, Garfield. Thanks for sticking with the issue.)

posted by jason streed at 10:01 AM on June 13, 2003

jason and garfield, you turned this into a great thread! Thanks.

posted by vito90 at 11:32 AM on June 13, 2003

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