There hasn’t been a more demonstrative tennis player than Andy Roddick, not since the days of John McEnroe, and Andy Roddick seems to think the lack of emotion that players are permitted to show is hurting the sport.
First and foremost, much like golf, tennis is supposed to be a gentlemen’s game. There’s no spitting, it’s classy, it’s played in country clubs and there’s rules and penalties against excessive demonstrative behaviour. Andy Roddick is all too familiar with them.
Roddick was recently docked a point at the Western and Southern Open in Ohio when in frustration Roddick swatted a ball into the stands. Chair umpire Carlos Bernardes assessed him a point penalty that put him behind 2-0 in the third set of his match against to Philipp Kohlschreiber. The point would prove costly as Roddick would eventually lose the match.
Afterwards, Roddick acknowledged his fault but was quick to point out that tennis had become far too restrictive.
“It’s so frustrating. I certainly accept what I did…I put him in a bad situation out there, but I do think it’s stupid in tennis that – I mean, in football if someone throws a helmet on the sideline, it’s their helmet…We wonder where we lose our ratings battles to the WWF, Monday Night Raw.” -Huffington Post.
Actually, in the NFL, players get penalized for throwing their helmets, but Roddick still may have a point. Hockey players don’t get docked a goal for breaking their sticks in frustration and baseball players don’t get docked runs for smashing up the dugout or breaking a bat over their knees.
It’s a new breed of athlete these days. Athletes are more demonstrative, whether it’s throwing powder in the air or tweeting during contests or flat out losing their minds, they’re showing more emotion and for the most part the fans and the media are eating it up.
The point is, tennis seems a little behind the times.
Remember Wimbledon and the fuss that arose over the “excessive grunting” by the competitors?
Sport etiquette is changing. Gone are the days where athletes who score a touchdown or score a goal in hockey are expected to “act like they’ve done it before.” You’re more likely to see an athlete on ice shoot a pretend bow and arrow into the stands, and on the football field, it’s not surprising to see a player break out into the Harlem Shake or some other celebration for scoring a TD. Even baseball walk off celebrations were getting out of control until Kendry Morales broke his leg. Recently, I even saw Nyjer Morgan pimp a routine pop fly that scored the winning run for the Brewers, until I saw that, I didn’t even know you can pimp a pop out.
Sure, certain actions may rub people the wrong way, but if the athletes aren’t hurting anyone, isn’t it all about entertainment?
Roddick thinks tennis players deserve a little more leeway.
Citing John McEnroe, Roddick said, “The guy is still getting endorsements because he was allowed to throw” things, Roddick said. “I understand where (Bernardes) is coming from, but at a certain point, you know, you hit a tennis ball into a stadium, someone goes home with a souvenir, and it pretty much ruins the match from there” to penalize the player…Seems counterproductive…At a certain point, I would love it if we got out of our own way.”- Huffington Post.
Actually, McEnroe is still getting endorsements because he won seven Grand Slam singles titles, three at Wimbledon and four at the US Open, nine Grand Slam men’s doubles titles, and one Grand Slam mixed doubles title…And because he threw things.
But does Roddick have a point? Is tennis too restrictive of their athletes and is it hurting the ratings?
Should players be allowed to express themselves more openly on the tennis court even if that means tossing rackets and balls into the stands?