snood
 
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 09:16 am
I really try not to hear it. I really do. I try to sit and watch Wimbledon, and listen to the running commentary of the "experts" behind the mikes, and just enjoy the exceptional show. But what I keep hearing over and over again is bias in the commentary.

The match I'm watching between Serena and Sharapova is a good example. They have such difficulty hiding their preference that Sharapova wins. They are giddy and excited when Sharapova does something good, and they seem a little disappointed when whe loses a point. Sharapova's points are displays of her "ability" and "talent" and "skill", but Serena's are "physicality" and "athleticism". they keep talking about Sharapova regaining her "rightful place" in the ranking, and how that would be "so refreshing for women's tennis". When Serena is exceptional and flawless in her execution, they are blase' and matter-of-fact. If Sharapova does something well, they gush.

IT MAKES ME SICK.

It reminded me of when I watched the US Open a couple years back, when it was overrun by a lot of talented Russians. I had to listen to the crowds cheer for the unknown white Russians when they went against the Williams sisters. It angered me. It made me sad.

You know what maybe the worst thing about it is? There's a part of me that is not shocked or suprised at all - that expects this.

I generally always pull for the underdog. It's why I was rooting for Henin to beat Clijsters, when Clijsters was overpowering her. In a perfect world, I'd always be pulling for the Williams sisters' opponents, because they are facing two women who have proven to be masters of the game, and very hard to beat.

But in this world, I always find myself wanting Serena and Venus to whip the crap out of everyone they meet.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 23 • Views: 16,016 • Replies: 252

 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 09:32 am
Well, Serena won. And true to form the commentator says, "She was just too athletic for Maria". Remarkable.
snood
 
  0  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 11:21 am
I guess I'll take everyone's silence as assent.
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 11:37 am
@snood,
I don't watch tennis so I have no experience with the live commentators. The stuff I read (NYT) seems to usually be pretty balanced.

What you lay out seems plausible to me. Might also be the underdog thing you mention -- it's more exciting tennis and better for the sport in general if the winner is not a foregone conclusion. I know I saw that a lot with Brett Favre in his heyday, people rooting against him because he was such a powerhouse and it was time for someone else to get some glory. I'm not sure, not enough firsthand info to work with.
Mame
 
  2  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 11:37 am
@snood,
Let's face it, the Williams Sisters are fabulous tennis players - the best, overall, really. The commentators are probably rooting for the underdog, as you are, but I do agree that commentators shouldn't allow their bias to seep into their commentating. That would piss me off too.
0 Replies
 
Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 12:04 pm
@snood,
Hey Snood

I think it's an underdog thing too...

I'm an avid Wimbedon watcher - and I see the same happening with Roddick and Lu right this minute

it also happened with Federer's first and second match


I'm rooting for Roddick right now <cheers>




edit:

Venus and Serena are utterly brilliant - magnificent actually - and lovely with it too. I have to admit that I am a Venus fan - can't imagine how hard it is for the parents to watch both their kids play against one another in finals.

Federer fan too - tho I will be a Murray supporter if he gets to the final Very Happy

0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 12:07 pm
@snood,
snood wrote:

Well, Serena won. And true to form the commentator says, "She was just too athletic for Maria". Remarkable.


Well, that's an accurate assessment. Nobody contends that the Williams sisters win because they are unbelievably skillful or make the most accurate shots; they aren't female versions of Federer. Their forte is that they simply overpower most of their opponents over the course of the game and use powerful serves to tire them out. There's no judgment involved in such a statement.

Tiger Woods is the same way. He's not the best putter on tour, but his drives overpower his opponents - especially a few years ago, before golfers started hitting the weights the way that he does.

Cycloptichorn
engineer
 
  5  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 12:49 pm
@snood,
Jon Wertheim over at Sports Illustrated gets the "racism" comment a lot and he's discussed it several times (as well as authoring "Venus Envy" about a year on the women's tour.) I recommend his mailbag - a must read for tennis fans.

Concerning your argument, I see several key points. First, Serena especially is very physically dominant. She is an excellent ball striker and I think her placement and movement are underrated, but no where as talented as Henin or to pull up an older name, Hingis. Her strengths are her extreme aggression, power and stamina. Commentators failing to note that are either blind or biasing their opinions the other way. Second, Sharapova's injuries have been very bad for the commercial side of women's tennis. She is a diva in all aspects. Of course purists will hate that, but between looks, game and personality (very diva like), she gets lots of headlines. While commentators shouldn't show favoritism, having her back in the game is a plus all around just like Henin and Clisters return. Note that the same is true of Venus Williams. She's had the benefit of a lot of positive press as she's come back from injury to regain the number two spot in the world and a LOT of people are hoping for another Williams v Williams final. When all those players were injured or retired, you had Safina as a number one and everyone scratching their heads (including Serena). That was bad for women's tennis. It's great to look at the women's draw and see five or six names with real shots at the title. Finally, S. Williams doesn't make many friends. She is notorious for backhanded compliments or outright slams to her opponents at post match interviews when she loses. She's phenomenal in Slams, but turns in lackluster performances at other top tier events if she bothers to play them at all. Let's not forget her threats aimed at a line judge last year at the US Open:
Serena Williams wrote:
"I swear to God I'm [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat, you hear that? I swear to God."

Of course, athletes have always been known to get caught up in the play, but players like McEnroe and Nastase were also blasted by the media for their antics. You'll hear the argument that Serena is held to a higher standard, but that really doesn't hold up to close observation. Once again, compare that to her sister. Venus does not generate nearly the fire in the press that Serena does and that was true even when Venus was the top dog.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 12:54 pm
@sozobe,
Here's some thought on the underdog comment:
Jon Wertheim wrote:
It's been four years since a non-Williams won the women's title. It's been three years since a non-Williams even made the final. Can any player (Maria Sharapova?) stop the juggernaut?
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:06 pm
Interesting. I used to follow tennis closely, but only read about it now, and not all the time. I'll look at that link, Engineer.

The comment snood mentioned, Sharapova's rightful place, does sound biased to me - where as I get the physicality vs. finesse comments as probably not biased. Same stuff happens in mens' tennis as well, without racial bias coming into it in the occasions I've read about. (I'm trying to remember that newish guy's, that seemed to suddenly show up and blow a few of the top ranked player's away.)
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:08 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
I think there's an unfortunate tendency not to give black athletes credit for being strategists, but rather to attribute everything to some kind of accidental freak brute force.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:10 pm
HOORAY FOR LU!!!!!!
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:10 pm
@snood,
snood wrote:

I think there's an unfortunate tendency not to give black athletes credit for being strategists, but rather to attribute everything to some kind of accidental freak brute force.


I don't disagree with this assessment, but I don't think the current example is a good one; the Williams' advantage, as several have pointed out, is not in their amazing accuracy or unbelievable levels of skill.

Anyway, it's not accidental. It's genetic superiority. Something to be proud of.

Cycloptichorn
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:12 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:

snood wrote:

I think there's an unfortunate tendency not to give black athletes credit for being strategists, but rather to attribute everything to some kind of accidental freak brute force.


I don't disagree with this assessment, but I don't think the current example is a good one; the Williams' advantage, as several have pointed out, is not in their amazing accuracy or unbelievable levels of skill.

Anyway, it's not accidental. It's genetic superiority. Something to be proud of.

Cycloptichorn


You're doing it yourself. I think the Williams sisters deserve credit for devoting thousands of hours since their early childhood in training. I think saying their superiority in the game is "genetic" discounts everything they have personally done to be where they are. Can't you see that?
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:19 pm
@snood,
Quote:

You're doing it yourself. I think the Williams sisters deserve credit for devoting thousands of hours since their early childhood in training. I think saying their superiority in the game is "genetic" discounts everything they have personally done to be where they are. Can't you see that?


No, I don't see that at all.

Their major advantage is what it is. No amount of perception of racial bias changes the fact that they really are no more skilled than other top players. Nobody is saying that they aren't skilled, of course they are. But they don't win matches based on their skill advantages.

The Williams sisters didn't put in a hair more time on tennis than anyone else at the top level. Everyone at the top has dedicated their life to the sport from a young age. So why go on about the factor that they ALL share? It doesn't make sense from a descriptive point of view.

Their practice puts them on the level with the best,
Their strength raises them above the rest of the best.

And you're surprised that people go on and on about the strength?

Like I said earlier, I don't disagree with your overall argument, but this is a very poor example.

Cycloptichorn
snood
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 01:41 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
No, I'm not "suprised" that folks go on about their strength - as I said earlier, it doesn't suprise me a bit. It dissapoints me that that's all they commonly get credit for.
engineer
 
  7  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 07:04 pm
@snood,
I think you are not seeing the entirety of tennis coverage concerning the Williams sisters and Serena in particular.

One think that Serena gets a lot of credit for is her mental toughness. The majority of the women players in the top 20 are mental basket cases. They choke on key service games, play great in warm-up events but get tight at the big show, get illegal coaching during the match, etc (examples: any Russian woman). Serena has always been recognized for bringing the heat when the stakes are high. She's in a select club of players with Federer and Nadal who play better under pressure when the big titles are on the line.

Another area where Serena gets a lot of credit is independence. She doesn't overplay despite what the tour would like. This produces two effects: she doesn't spend a lot of time injured and she doesn't collect a lot of rating points playing less prestigious events so her rating occasionally doesn't reflect her true standing. She doesn't kowtow to people who want her to be more demure or tone down her clothing. She's probably one of the best role models on the tour (despite the US Open outburst.)
snood
 
  0  
Reply Mon 28 Jun, 2010 09:16 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

I think you are not seeing the entirety of tennis coverage concerning the Williams sisters and Serena in particular.

One think that Serena gets a lot of credit for is her mental toughness. The majority of the women players in the top 20 are mental basket cases. They choke on key service games, play great in warm-up events but get tight at the big show, get illegal coaching during the match, etc (examples: any Russian woman). Serena has always been recognized for bringing the heat when the stakes are high. She's in a select club of players with Federer and Nadal who play better under pressure when the big titles are on the line.

Another area where Serena gets a lot of credit is independence. She doesn't overplay despite what the tour would like. This produces two effects: she doesn't spend a lot of time injured and she doesn't collect a lot of rating points playing less prestigious events so her rating occasionally doesn't reflect her true standing. She doesn't kowtow to people who want her to be more demure or tone down her clothing. She's probably one of the best role models on the tour (despite the US Open outburst.)

It comes down to one's opinion and perspective on it, after all is said... and there is no total right or wrong there.
0 Replies
 
Region Philbis
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 10:10 am

dang -- missed all the shrieking and moaning that accompanies a good serena v maria match... Mr. Green
0 Replies
 
Ragman
 
  3  
Reply Tue 29 Jun, 2010 10:23 am
@snood,
Not in all cases (assent).

I have also seen this behavior as 'knock the established top-dog" syndrome. Yankee-bashing occurred by millions of baseball fans for decades. Even that was replaced by Patriot bashing after they win a few SBs. All common occurrences.

It's not without a reason that it could be looked at as racist (or appealing to) in its roots, though. Some guy announcers just like tall (white) blonds, mebbe? Who knows, but it does wear thin, though. Hey, I like the Williams' attitude and talent.
 

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