Australian Open

Bad sports

It’s Australian Open time (which you should know – unless you’ve been living under a rock). I like tennis – and I’m hoping that A-Rod does me proud this year.

I like that tennis players are really gentlemanly (or ladylike) and do the little courtesy wave thing they do when they hit the let cord during the point.

But I don’t get why they feel the need to. If I was a tennis player (which I’m not) I would practice hitting the ball into the let cord with enough topspin that it would trickle over every time. It seems like an awesome strategy.

Also, while I’m on the subject of cool sporting strategies – if I was a Rugby League coach I would tell my team to kick field goals at every opportunity. It works for Rugby Union. You really only need to get to about the forty metre line each set and blast the ball through the posts. Then you get the ball back.

When playing pool with friends I like to wait until they get onto the eight ball, wait for it to be behind the D that you break from, and then sink the white ball. You can’t hit backwards from the D and a foul shot on black is an automatic loss.

When I play indoor soccer I like to defend. I like to stand just inside the person running towards me so that they move towards the side netting – and then I like to step into them so that they run into the net. We played our last game of mixed indoor in Townsville (possibly forever) tonight. I have a bruise.

Have you got any dirty tricks for winning at sport? Share them in the comments.

ATP: Equal pay for equal work

ATP in that heading stands for Another Tennis Post – there’ve been a few of them, and given the amount of tennis we’re currently watching there’ll no doubt be more. 

We’ve just watched Dokic go down fighting against Safina. It was a hard fought game – but in all honesty pretty boring to watch. Here’s the thing. I don’t like watching women’s tennis. And I’m sick to death of the special treatment they get and their cries for equal pay.

I’m not against the idea of women getting paid the same amount as men – in any sport. What I am against is the preferential treatment of women in tennis. Why should we have to wait until after 10.00pm to see arguably the best player ever to play the game? Why are the women’s games played first? They’re boring, they don’t play with the same power and precision as the men and their serves are a good 40km slower. Sure, there’s the eye candy factor, and the Aussie “home girl hero” factor tonight – but at the end of the day I’d rather watch the men first and then the women (at the end of the day). 

Here’s the rub – women want equal prizemoney in the grandslams – and yet they play much fewer sets – a woman winning the tournament in straight sets throughout her fixtures will play 14 sets – a man winning in straight sets will play 21. If a woman is forced to play the maximum number of sets available she’ll play 21, a man 35.

A set generally takes somewhere between 20 minutes and an hour to play – if you take the average of 40 minutes and the middle ground for number of sets played throughout the tournament a male champion is likely to play about 18 hours of tennis. This is pretty conservative. Because in theory as games get tougher and closer throughout the tournament they last longer. You can realistically expect a mix of three, four and five set games. A woman champion playing seven games is, using the same methodology, likely to play about 11 hours of tennis. 

I’d say pay rates are pretty fair – especially given pay loading for having to play at less desirable times. You could argue that having the men’s games earlier would rate better and create more television revenues for the game. On that basis this quest for equality is actually robbing the coffers and there’s no business case for increasing women’s prize money.

YouTube Tuesday – The A-Rodd edition

I’m thoroughly enjoying watching Andy Roddick demolish Djokovic at the moment. I’m a big fan of the A-Rodd – so I thought I’d share some of his brilliant moments shilling American Express… he’s one of those guys who’s able to laugh at himself which is somewhat refreshing in a professional sports star – although tennis seems to be full of guys like that with Tsonga, Federer, and Djokovic all able to turn their frowns upside down.

Bird’s eye view

We’ve been watching a lot of tennis lately. Tennis is one of those games that you watch and find yourself thinking “it doesn’t look that hard” which progresses to “we should do that for a job.” The answer to those statements is “it is” and “we shouldn’t”. 

I did have tennis lessons as a child. I spent more time running punishment laps of the tennis court than holding a racquet – and subsequently don’t know my forehand from my forehead. Robyn is much more proficient when it comes to the skills involved but I’ve got the edge on brute strength and am prone to hitting the ball as hard as I can male, so we’re pretty evenly matched when we play. The Australian Open inspires a renewed vigour for the game every year – last year we bought racquets so maybe this year we’ll buy some sweat bands or something.

But I digress. I wanted to mention Hawkeye – which is an interesting case of technology driven by television companies being integrated into sport. Traditionally television companies interactions with sport have been to the detriment of tradition – eg World Series Cricket, Super League and 20/20 cricket.

Progress is not always good. Especially when it comes to eliminating human error in judicial administration of the rules of the game.

Cricket coverage lead the way in terms of calling umpire’s decisions into question – snicko, cricket’s hawkeye for LBWs, and hotspot – not to mention ultra slow motion repetitions of run out decisions.

The bane of Rugby League watching in recent years has been the time taken for video referee decisions.  

The desire for accuracy is in my mind an imperative based not on ensuring the players get a fair go – but insuring that the punters do. I mean punters in the literal “gambling” sense – not just fans. The amount of money riding on every game of professional sport could fund the bailout of a small financial institution so it’s increasingly important to get things right.

Robyn is all for Hawkeye in tennis – she says it encourages players to boldly aim for the lines – knowing they can make a challenge if a call doesn’t go the right way. I’m not sold, and neither it seems are the players. Particularly after hawkeye was thawrted by a bit of shade today.

Two final comments on this long post – firstly – did you know Hawkeye was invented by a man named Hawkins? I always thought the name was based on hawk’s legendary optic capacity and the fact that you’re getting a “birds eye view”. 

Secondly, I think Birdseye’s decision to sponsor Hawkeye was a brilliant piece of product endorsement. 

Here endeth the lesson.

Late night ramble

We just enjoyed watching Safin v Federer in the third round of the Australian Open. I am a Safin fan, and I like Federer and Robyn is a Federer fan and likes Safin so it was a fun game to watch. It should have gone for longer but I’m glad it didn’t because now it’s late and time for bed. 

But before bed I’d like to plug Chris’s new blog. He’s called it “toph-online” probably because he still wants us to call him “Toph”. Anyway, it’s two days old and he’s mostly blogged about Obama – but who hasn’t mostly blogged about Obama this week. Welcome to the blogosphere Chris. Here’s a cheap plug.

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