The tennis is awesome but I don’t love all
In between promos for Revenge, My Kitchen Rules and Please Marry My Boy, tennis star Marcos Baghdatis had a wee meltdown at the Australian Open on Wednesday and smashed his way through four shiny blue tennis racquets.
Given he scored a pay cheque of $20,000 just for winning round one, the $770 fine meted out to Baghdatis must have made those poor racquets feel positively worthless.
I love the Aussie Open. Like interminable school holidays (“Muuum!” “Muuum!” “Muuum!”) it’s synonymous with summer. But if tempers can fray on the court, imagine how the rest of us feel at home.
Top of my gripe list is the chit chat about betting odds that has snuck into commentary, as though losing wads of cash to online betting agencies was a completely legitimate part of tennis.
Sure, big sponsors demand more bang for their buck these days.
Advertising confined to the ads? Not in sport, sport: there’s the ANZ Open Megawall, the Optus Sounds of the Game, the Birds Eye look at what’s on tomorrow and constant clumsy cross-promotion of upcoming Seven Network programs.
I begrudgingly accept all that. But when Bruce McAvaney, one of the most respected sports broadcasters in Australia, starts twittering on about the betting odds, it makes me want to do the Baghdatis.
Given the hole we’ve dug ourselves with poker machines – with pubs and clubs now relying on problem gamblers to fund 40 per cent of their pokie billions – it seems incomprehensible that government regulators allow betting odds to run in sports commentary.
If they want the next generation of sports fans to think having a bet is as normal as switching on the telly, they’re going the right way about it.
So to my second whinge, which is the use of the Australian flag ONLY besides the names of Aussie players during match coverage.
Which bright spark at the Seven Network decided that the culturally-rich Australian public are so Oi-Oi-Oi-obsessed that we’re not interested in the nationality of other players?
C’mon! It’s un-Australian to flag only Aussies. Lambassador Sam Kekovich could tell you that. Give us a few letters signifying other nationalities.
And finally, what about this unattractive business of girlie grunting? What a racket.
The Melbourne Park crowd got so fed up with Victoria Azarenka’s constant high-pitched woo-wooing on Wednesday night that they started to hoot like deranged owls – even drowning out her courtside interview after the easy victory.
A tad rude, you might think. And women’s tennis officials are to blame.
This high-pitched grunting started with Monica Seles and continues relatively unchallenged with the likes of Azarenka and Maria “shrieking” Sharapova. At best it’s intensely annoying for tennis spectators; at worst it’s the deliberate distraction of opponents.
Despite calls from World Number 1 Caroline Wozniacki to stamp out the practice, women’s officials are apparently loath to gag the grunters because it’s the way many were coached as youngsters.
Surely there’s one way to exorcise the groaning demons within, though: tell players to shut up or lose points. Give them a couple of months to kick the habit and woo-woo! Gone will be the grunt.
Heaven forbid Azarenka and Sharapova make the women’s final next weekend – tennis fans across the nation will have their tellies muted.
How, then, will we hear Bruce’s commentary on the betting odds? Or the initially-quite-annoying-but-somehow-strangely-endearing utterance from SA’s My Kitchen Rules contestant, “Princess” Jennifer?
Network Seven, we’ve noticed the odd fault here and there – but good effort. Yeah.
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