Wednesday, September 09, 2015

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 Björn 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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