whiff-whaff at 120 mph

Millions of affluent people love tennis and it's very, very lucrative for participants, organizers and advertisers, but for the life of me (aside from the money) I can't understand their passion for the game. And I'm old enough to have attended an exhibition match between  Rod Laver and Bj√∂rn Borg at the tennis hall of fame in the 1980's so I think I've seen the best that the sport has to offer. There was still a remnant of gentlemanly conduct, proper dress (whites) and a grass court giving the impression that two human beings were competing for fun. Those days are gone - they were gone then, but the illusion was still hanging in the air like the fluff from a white tennis ball after being crushed by the famous Laver serve - long gone.

Not a game of Kings, nor Serena
By tennis, I mean lawn tennis, not jeu de paume (commonly called Real Tennis) which is a brilliant game of athleticism, strategy and cunning and, though commonly attributed as the precursor to lawn tennis, has about as much in common with the flat grid, twak-twak monotony broadcast from the US Open in Queens, NY as chess has with checkers (less, in fact). Aside from a racquet and net and a ball and some similarity in the words used to keep score the two games exist in different universes. Tennis is a combination of Badminton and Ping Pong enjoyable to anyone who wants a little exercise with a friend followed by some iced tea on the country club patio. There are also simple minded folk who like to watch the ball swatted (irregularly) back and forth across a net like a giant broken metronome keeping disjointed cosmic time. And then there is the pro-game, which is a circus performed by freakish human machines with personality disorders. When I mistakenly turned my TV to ESPN last night I was confronted with what appeared to be a middle linebacker wearing a garish purple and black dress crushing a yellow neon ball into the blue asphalt ground with grunts and screams emitted from a stern face of focused rage - and her opponent was her sister!!!

There is something wrong with these people and, dare I say it, there's something wrong with the people who watch these people. Stop watching tennis - it's bad for you.

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