First of all, I realize I should have posted this last week when the event started, but I needed to view it again to understand how much I appreciate it. I’m not a diehard tennis fan, I only watch the majors and usually only the important matches. I just wanted to state as I’m patiently waiting for the Roger Federer-Andy Roddick Semifinal to begin. So here we go…
1. It’s on in the middle of the night-For some reason I will watch any live event that occurs in the wee hours of the morning. You name it, I’ve seen it…I’ll watch any olympic event from basketball to rowing, fuck I’ve even watched The Running of The Bulls a few years ago. You can say I’m a sports addict but I think I’m just an insomniac looking for any excuse to stay up that I can find. For which I say the Australian Open suits my needs perfectly.
2. National Pride-This doesn’t so much extend to the participants as much as it does to the fans. Since most of the tennis players have either been on the pro tour for years or have grown up in schools for tennis prodigies, it has largely made their home nation rather ambiguous for much of the year. It seems to be one of the few events where it there actually is some sort of civic pride and it translates well over television. The yelling and waving flags of the fans makes the match seem much exciting than tennis really should be. People even throw chairs at each other. Its FANtastic.
3. Australians are Fucking Nuts-They all seem crazy. They get drunk and tan themselves in 140 degree weather. Honestly I did not even know it could get that hot but I still want to party with them. Seriously it was 140 degrees at one of the matches and they still refused to shut the roof because it had not yet reached critical levels. I start getting heat stroke as soon as the thermometer says 80.
4. ESPN does an excellent job of covering it-I know this blog is named Not From Bristol but I have to give credit where credit is due. They’ve had many failures recently, Monday Night Football is nearly unwatchable, Sportscenter and every other news show is a joke. I don’t like watching people yell at each other even when they are agreeing! But, the tennis coverage is different. As a casual fan I’m learning about things I had no idea even existed without them treating me like I’m retarded. They help me with the strategy of the game in a way that doesn’t bore the shit out of me. I now feel like I could serve and volley at the appropriate time. My favorite thing about the World Wide Leader’s coverage is that they will let the tennis speak for itself. Generally they don’t give me play-by-play, which is great considering I have eyes and can actually see what is going on and don’t need someone to tell me what I’m watching. Instead when they do talk, they are providing insight as to what the players are doing wrong and what they are doing right without demeaning each other. All the insight from Brad Gilbert to Patrick McEnroe to Cliff Drysdale to the consummate professional Chris Fowler make tennis enjoyable for even the most casual fans.
I think I have a man crush on Chris Fowler.
5. Hot Women playing (and hopefully beating) women who look like ugly men-Here’s a look at the 2 combatants for the finals. Yeah, that didn’t happen this year unless you’re in the club who thinks Serena Williams is attractive. I for one am not, maybe I’m crazy but I don’t think women with haunches are overly attractive.
Every year I commit myself to viewing hundreds of hours of sports coverage. I’ve seen everything from billiards to men’s gymnastics. However, the sport that I dedicate much of my time to is the NFL. For one reason, the NFL is the only professional sports league in America that has placed a great importance on the regular season. Almost every game is important and the players generally reward the viewer with a well-fought battle. The other three major sports (and yes that includes hockey), place very little importance on their regular season. For instance, I have probably not watched a single regular season hockey game in over three years. I would still consider myself of a fan of the game but I feel that there is no reason to commit myself to 82 telecasts a year when my team, the Detroit Red Wings, is virtually a lock to make the playoffs. Football is different because there are few enough games where the outcomes actually mean something and it is important where you finish the season.
However, this year feels a little different to me. The fact that the road team is winning almost every game is not helping me believe that the games during the regular season had any importance on crowning a champion. It used to seem that home field advantages and first round byes were important. Now it seems that teams would actually benefit if they tanked a few games at the end of the season in order to play during Wild Card Weekend. Just look at how screwed up the bracket is; 3 of the final 4 teams have had to win their wild card game in order to make it this far. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only team with a bye week. These teams have been playing at a much higher level than they did during the entire regular season. In contrast, the teams with byes who have generally looked out of rhythm and have not been able to catch up to the different pace of the playoffs. The teams without the byes can get into the playoff groove and will have a head start over the teams with byes when they meet them in the second round.
I’m just trying to say that I feel cheated after devoting all these hours to the regular season when all my preconceived notions are just going to blow up right in my face in the first week of the playoffs. I have begun to ask myself questions like, “Why should a team with an 8-8 even be playing a team that was 12-4?” I like watching the underdog win a game once in a while but I really don’t like watching two teams that have been mediocre all season long play each other to decide a championship. Just because you get hot for two weeks shouldn’t super cede all the crappy play that I had to endure during the regular season. Right now the regular season has just turned into a gigantic power ranking system in order to place teams into the playoff crapshoot to see which team is hot at the right time. I understand that this is the exact argument people make for the BCS and I’m not really a big fan of that system either so I don’t know what the solution is. In the end, I just don’t feel like the best team is winning the championship. Somehow the regular season has to have a greater importance so that it can actually help decide who the rightful champion of a league is.