Anyone for tennis?!
Our United States “culture” cannot be said to be high on patience. Not waiting but instant gratification is much more in vogue. No wonder than that games like soccer and tennis are not wildly popular. It cannot be said that either of these two games could be described as fast-paced.
Don’t get me wrong. A game of football can be very interesting and enjoyable when it is played to win. It is a different matter altogether when it is played not to lose. When pushing and pulling shirts and shorts is a part of the plan, when feigning injury or extreme pain is done to gain advantage, when one step forward and two steps back is a strong tactical element. What makes it exceedingly tedious to watch is when a well organized team has defense as its sole objective. Twenty one men trying to kick the ball in a crowded one third of a football pitch does not make for a very exciting entertainment. Beauty of football game is in the skills of individual players, and this is usually lost when the game is too “closed”.
There is a way to change the game and make it exciting again. First, let’s get rid of the off-side rule and let the players “spread out”. Let’s individual skills shine over stolid strategies. And another thing – the system of using a “warning” yellow card and a red “sending off” card to punish players that commit fouls does not work either. Surely dangerous play and blatant fouls must be penalized but sending off a player for the rest of the game is too harsh. It would be much fairer and would make for a better game if a player is send off for a period of time, say 10-15 minutes with some flexibility depending on the severity of the offence.
It can be safely said that tennis fares much worse than soccer when it comes to “entertainment” value. Changes have been made, and at least in the US Open the tiebreak is used in each set so that the game does not “drag on”. The rest of the Grand Slam tournaments still retain the old advantage set rules. The “merit” of this was demonstrated last year at Wimbledon where the world’s longest tennis match lasting 11 hours and 5 minutes was played. Even with the tiebreak in use, it is not uncommon for tennis matches to last 5 hours or so (with a significant part of this time being spent by the players in toweling themselves, going through their routines like bouncing the ball many, many times before serving, sitting in their chairs after each game, etc., etc., so the actual playing time is indeed much shorter). On the technical side, service, i.e., the initial introduction of the ball into play, has gained too much significance over the years. Is it really still necessary to give players two chances to “get it right” when serving? It would make the game flow better if each serve is counted as one point. Deuce and Advantage should be scrapped. Let’s make each game consisting of a number of serves, 11 would seem a good number, and whichever player gains 6 points wins that game. Reliance on a heavy serve would be largely eliminated, or at least much reduced.
Anyone for tennis!?