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Olympic Observations

2016-rio-olympics759-1So we’re a week into the 2016 Olympics and there are a couple things that have been bothering me. These aren’t necessarily things that have never bothered me before. But they are things that I have just been keenly aware of this Olympiad and I just had to write them down and get other people’s input.

6836964_origFirst, Tennis: My wife is a huge tennis fan. So it’s been on my TV around the clock for the last week. And this is something that’s not just about the Olympics, but here is where I’ve really noticed it. Tennis is a sport for pansy-ass wusses. And I’ll tell you why. I acknowledge that to be good it takes a lot of practice and training. These people are impressive athletes and the dedication that it takes to get to their level is impressive. So WHY THE FUCK DO YOU NEED ABSOLUTE QUIET WHILE YOU ARE COMPETING?!?!? Steph was watching a Serena Williams game the other day and literally after every single point the smart referee guy would get on his loudspeaker and yell at the audience, “quiet! Please! We must have silence. Please be quiet, please!” Every single point!

If I were a fan in the stands, I’d be pissed. It’s the fucking Olympics. In Rio! I didn’t spend a bajillion dollars to fly halfway around the world and watch the greatest tennis on Earth silently. I came to have fun.

This actually isn’t just the olympics. Tennis demands silence in every tournament, and I think it’s stupid every single time. I asked Steph about it and she said that it’s important because it takes a lot of concentration to play well. You know what? Bullshit! I agree that it takes a lot of concentration. But tough. Lots of sports do. It takes concentration to hit a baseball and people cheer. It takes concentration to pass a football and people cheer. Gymnastics takes MASSIVE amounts of concentration! And do you know what happens when you screw up and have a lapse of concentration on the balance beam? YOU FUCKING DIE! That’s right. You land on your head, split it open and you die! But that doesn’t matter. Not only does the referee not call for silence when someone is jumping up on the balance beam, but because of the way rotations work, right next to her is another girl flipping around on the uneven bars and directly behind her is another girl bouncing up and down on her floor routine while the loudspeakers blare some crazy remix of Beethoven and Beyonce. But the balance beam girl tunes that shit out, because she’s a fucking athlete and that’s what you do!

The only other sport I can think of that demands the same kind of absolute silence is golf. And tennis players, you don’t want to be like golf do you? I didn’t think so! Fuck those guys!

olympic-swimming-results-2016-michael-phelps-wins-gold-in-mens-200m-butterfly_1Second: Why is swimming a sport? Well, I get why it’s *A* sport, but why is it like 18 sports? I’m totally cool with the concept of swimming as a sport. In fact, at it’s heart I think it’s one of the purest sports. Racing! See, a long time ago, I determined that there were really only six sports:

  1. Get the ball to the other side of the field.
  2. Hit that target over there
  3. Keep the ball in the air
  4. Do your job better/faster than the other guy
  5. Beat the other guy up
  6. Baseball

All sports are derived from variations on those six. Swimming (and in fact all racing sports) are just sport #4. What I don’t get is why there are so many variations. Why aren’t all swims freestyle? See, I’m ok with there being different distance events. A 100m race is fundamentally different than a 1600m race. I totally get that. But there is no reason for butterfly or backstroke or any other specific stroke to exist. It’s a race. The only thing that should matter in a race is “who gets from point A to point B the fastest.” In track and field, there’s a 100m run. No one cares if you want to run it backwards. No one gives a fuck if you want to skip. How fast can you get to that line over there? GO!

I actually tried really hard to think of another sport #4 where multiple events were the same thing except for they made you use some random handicap and I can’t. There’s no event in horse racing where you can only trot. There’s no event in auto racing where you have to go backwards. The closest I can think of is the different events in weightlifting, but even that seems different and more legitimate. I guess MAYBE you could see the luge and the skeleton as basically the same event but one is backwards but that’s basically it.

I mean, it’s great that Michael Phelps has 8,924,345 medals or whatever. Really it is. But it just seems like swimmers get more opportunities than other sports. I’m betting if there was a 100m one legged hop and a 4x100m one legged hop relay and a 200m shuffle, Usain Bolt would have more medals too.


94 comments for “Olympic Observations

  1. August 15, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Race walking. It’s just like running but with a handicap. (And the Internet tells me, they can walk faster than we can run.)

    But what sport is Keep the ball in the Air?

    1. August 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Oh my god, I totally forgot that the olympics included race walking. Yeah, that’s dumb too…

      Keep the Ball in the Air is lots of sports: Tennis, ping pong, volleyball, badminton (it doesn’t technically have to be a ball… and in some variations it’s a allowed to hit the ground once)

    2. August 15, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Also, while this is totally an excellent explanation for why swimming doesn’t use the most precise time measuring available, it doesn’t answer the question in the headline:

      Ties in soccer are cool. Ties in a race mean you haven’t asked people to race at something meaningful. And that article moved to me that there are too many ties in swimming. Though I’d never known or cared before that there are ties in swimming.

      Come to think of it, maybe that’s why there’s backstroke.

    3. August 15, 2016 at 9:45 am

      To me, tennis etc are all variations of Get the ball to the other Side, different only in that you don’t follow it.

    4. August 15, 2016 at 10:01 am

      I see an important distinction.

      In the goal game (football, hockey, soccer, basketball) the objective is to keep possession of the ball and get it into a target.

      In the net game (tennis, volleyball, badminton, pingpong) the object is to pass the ball to your opponent and hope they miss.

      To me, it matters because of say racket ball. Here you are following the ball. And You are sharing the field with your opponent. There’s no net. But it’s still more like volleyball than soccer.

    5. August 15, 2016 at 10:10 am

      is hacky sack in the olympics?

    6. August 15, 2016 at 10:22 am

      I’m ok with race walking. It uses different balance and muscles than running. It just looks goofy. 🙂

    7. August 15, 2016 at 10:40 am

      It’s not that I have a problem of people do it. Breaststroke, butterfly and backstroke use different muscles too.

      It’s just that I think the “real race” is who gets through the fastest however you want to do it.

      Like if it’s swimming and some dude wants to jump down and run across the bottom of the pool and he can get there faster than the the butterfly guy, then good for him.

    8. August 15, 2016 at 11:00 am

      As a former swimmer in my youth is compare it almost to NASCAR v formula 1 v street racing etc. Or to keep it in line with the Olympics, a sprint vs running hurdles. Or street cycling vs track cycling vs mountain biking. Sure, the goal is to get from one point to the other faster than another guy, but if that’s all the more that we’re counting then why can’t I just ride a motorcycle and win the gold while Bolt is still pumping his legs down the track?

      The different strokes really do make a big enough difference that, for a true competitor, the difference between free and fly can be as the difference between playing basketball or playing soccer. That’s why the individual medley is such a big deal, to swimmers being able to be competitive at the medley is like being in the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL at the same time. Realistically the difference may not be /that/ extreme, but at the competitive level it was extreme enough.

      I stopped swimming for a team in middle school, so things may have changed as I grew older had I continued swimming competitively, but for me I was by far better at free and breast than I was at back, and I sucked at butterfly. I could never be competitive in fly or an individual medley, but I could definitely push my opponents in free and breast. Much like I was decent at basketball or football, but in baseball I could neither hit nor field for the life of me.

    9. August 15, 2016 at 11:08 am

      Also, I wouldn’t call it a disadvantage, average speeds across the four strokes are similar, they’re just different styles using different muscle groups.

    10. August 15, 2016 at 3:07 pm

      It’s not so much that I don’t understand the distinction. I totally get how it’s different muscle groups. I just think it’s silly to divide the race up like that.

      Like I said, if we took the track events, we certainly COULD make a distinction between sprinting and say hopping or skipping and run alternate races with those as well. That feels like it would be closer to the different strokes. Or, as Susan pointed out, walk racing, which exactly works like that.

      as opposed to the difference between NASCAR and Formula 1 and sprint cars, which use physically different equipment which works the same way but can’t really complete on a level playing field with each other. To me, that’s more like different weight classes in wrestling or separating women’s swimming from men. Formula one and NASCAR have similar top speeds (F1 is a little faster) but they are just functionally different. As opposed to a swimmer who is opting for a breast stroke vs. a butterfly. it’s still the same guy. You can dump him in the other race and maybe he doesn’t compete as well, but functionally he has the same equipment. That’s different than throwing a discus in the shot put.

      It’s also not the same as the different between the 100m and the 110 hurdles. That’s a functionally different course. That’d be like putting obstacles in the middle of the pool that you’d have to swim under ever 10 M (which actually would be kind of an interesting event and I don’t know why the don’t do it.)

      And yeah, the medley makes more sense to me than having the individual races. To me that’s more like a decathlon, which totally makes sense as we’re now doing a judgement of a group of skills. We see your ability to run the 100 and the hurdles and then we see your poll vault. But if you’re going to go that route, I’d love to see a water decathlon… breast stroke, butterfly, they obstacle swim I invented… throw in platform diving and springboard…

      So, I do get that the difference is there. And I get WHY it’s there, but for a race, I’m more interested in seeing who is the fastest and not HOW they are. At least personally. But if they added the 100m hop, and the 200m backwards run, maybe I’d get more used to it.

    11. August 15, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      hahah good I’m not the only one who thought “wait, Mav missed talking about racewalking”

  2. August 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Car racing. Stock car racing is different than Formula 1 racing. Different car specs is equivalent to different strokes.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 9:43 am

      No they’re not. They’re equivalent to different weight or gender classes. It’s not the same.

      it’d be more like saying you can only use 3rd gear.

    2. August 15, 2016 at 9:45 am

      I’m not sure I don’t think weight classes isn’t roughly equivalent, too. It is still an arbitrary limit on how you can compete.

    3. August 15, 2016 at 3:10 pm

      I addressed this a bit in my comment a couple seconds ago on the thread directly above. Yes, I get the “point” but it’s more that I find it weird to make the arbitrary distinction STYLE. Like in auto racing, putting an F1 on a NASCAR track is just a fundamentally different thing (which, frankly, might be really interesting).

      But saying all cars have to drive in reverse for this race… or “you can only use 3rd gear” seems more like what we’re doing here.

  3. August 15, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Shot-put has very specific rules on form, same thing as a handicap. Racing “stock” cars is nothing but a handicap. Speed-walking isn’t in the Olympiad, but it’s a race with a handicap.

    Swimming might have some event-inflation, but it’s not the only one with “arbitrary” restrictions to create new events.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Oh, I have no problem with restrictions on form. That’s different too. It’d be more like if there was a spinning shotput and then an underarm shotput, and then a freestyle shotput… etc.

    2. August 15, 2016 at 9:46 am

      I mean, “throw this lead ball” vs “throw this stuck”… How are those different?

    3. August 15, 2016 at 9:48 am

      They’re not. They’re just sport #4 in the grand scheme of things.

      But I still think having a separate with event of throw the same object, using a different grip would be silly.

  4. August 15, 2016 at 9:42 am

    In harness racing horses have to either trot or pace depending on the race and aren’t allowed to gallop. In nearly every auto race there are strict limits on engine size, body shape, fuel tank size etc.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Ok, I admit I don’t know that much about harness racing. But see my reply to Michael Strauss above on why I don’t think auto racing counts as the same thing.

  5. August 15, 2016 at 9:45 am

    If we’re going to do over-the-top sportier-than-thou complaints:

    Events where judges just _vote_ on your score… How are those sports?

    1. August 15, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      I get your point, but oddly enough that makes more sense to me. For one thing, I watch certain events (gymnastics) often enough to see how it’s not as subjective as it sometimes appears, so I assume that the ones that I don’t watch as much (figure skating) aren’t either.

      But i do agree that it’s kinda weird.

  6. August 15, 2016 at 9:47 am

    I’m not fully versed in rowing, but I believe rowing also has events that use different strokes. Kayaking is a hand over hand, while other events you go forward or backwards with simultaneously timed strokes.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 9:48 am

      You can claim they are different boats, but effectively they are different strokes with boats designed to maximize the benefit of those strokes.

    2. August 15, 2016 at 10:05 am

      True. But then the question becomes “is it illegal to use a hand over hand kayaking stroke in rowing or does just no one do it because it would be slow?”

    3. August 15, 2016 at 10:07 am

      I don’t know, but I should point out that it isn’t illegal to use breaststroke in a freestyle race. Just nobody does it because it is slow. Some people have occasionally used butterfly in a freestyle race.

    4. August 15, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Right. And I’m cool with that. That was my point.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      see! I’m not alone!!!

  7. August 15, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Also, while I am thinking of, there is a running race that requires skipping: Hurdles. The hurdle, as an obstacle, exists purely to force a specific running gait throughout the race.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      not the same. There’s actually no specific rule as to HOW you get through the hurdle. There’s a technique that appears to be best that 99.9999% of hurdlers use… but if you happen to be strong and fast enough that you can just plow through them and knock them over like the Juggernaut that’s totally legal.

    2. August 15, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      That’s completely not true. The whole reason it’s called “hurdles” is because you have to hurdle them. You don’t get disqualified for accidentally knocking one over, but you do get disqualified for intentionally knocking one over.

    3. August 15, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      Hmmm. Checking. You appear to be correct. You have to make an attempt to clear it. But that’s left up to the judge as to whether you did or not. Still style doesn’t matter (other than that it obviously slows you down)

    4. August 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      The strange one to me is ski jumping where your goal is to go as far as possible, but you also get judged on style and then that affects your score. I don’t understand why we judge ski jumping on style instead of just results.

  8. August 15, 2016 at 9:59 am

    As a swimmer I say, fuck all those other sports.

  9. August 15, 2016 at 10:20 am

    LOL @ 6. baseball.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 10:21 am

      the whole point is to “go home” LOL

    2. August 15, 2016 at 3:16 pm

      well, it is different than the other sports. It’s not unique. Cricket probably counts as baseball too. But I feel like it’s funnier to just put out there alone like that.

  10. August 15, 2016 at 10:42 am

    You’re being too loud. I can’t concentrate. Shhh. BE QUIET.


    1. August 15, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      Now the question is are you playing tennis or flipping around on a balance beam?

      And why aren’t you posting pictures?

  11. August 15, 2016 at 10:43 am

    The quiet in tennis pretension does have an alternate at least:

    1. August 15, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      I don’t get it. That’s just a bunch of results.

    2. August 15, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Chris, sorry. It didn’t link right for some reason.
      World Team Tennis actively encourages cheering. Mascots, cheerleaders, deejay.
      It’s got some big name players too. The Williams sisters, Martina Hingis… They do singles, doubles, mixed doubles, all accumulating score for one team to win over another.

    3. August 15, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      oh. Cool. Like Anders Weinstein comment below that says “they’ll get used to it”. And I think I agree.

  12. August 15, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Alright, I’ll be a devil”s advocate for this particular post, Chris Maverick…

    I believe Volleyball has similar type of “quiet while serving” rules as Tennis and golf does. And I believe that is the same for indoor and beach volleyball. Now, once the ball is in play for volleyball, there doesn’t seem to be any restrictions on noise. That’s actually the case with tennis too… you are usually free to cheer a great shot or return volley in tennis but must remain quiet during the serve.

    I think some of it might have to do with the type of venue too.

    In tennis (and beach volleyball) the arena is tight so sound is amplified – that’s why television picks up loud grunts every time a female hits a tennis ball. That’s not the case with either baseball or football. In both of those cases, there tends to be a lot of space between “the fans” and the athletes so any sound a fan makes tends to not be as severe as it would be inside a tennis stadium.

    Plus, football players and baseball batters are both wearing helmets – which also nullify a lot of sound as well.

    BUT… in both of those sports, you will find adamant fans that get upset when OTHER fans make noise at inappropriate times during home games.

    For example: At home football games, you’re “supposed” to be quiet while the home team offense is calling plays but incredibly loud when the home team is on defense or when the opposing team is trying to call a play.

    In baseball, you’re supposed to be loud all the way up until the pitcher is about to release the ball. The idea is you’re supposed to try and distract the opposing team but not screw up your own home team. It really is quite weird, I grant you.

    But, I do agree with you about gymnastics. It is pretty amazing that gymnastics – both for men and women – can be doing multiple events that require a great deal of concentration can still do those routines while all kinds of other noise and action are going on in the same gymnasium. 🙂

    1. August 15, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      Stephanie mentioned the amplification problem too. And yeah, I get it. But my response is basically “you’re a professional. Tune it out”. Just like the gymnasts do.

    2. August 15, 2016 at 4:11 pm

      The worst thing is when someone goes to serve and some jerk (usually a fan of the opponent) screams at that moment.

      btw, you can also hear males grunt on the court (and whatever sound that is that Murray makes when he serves).

  13. August 15, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Actually, the best way I van think of to explain the differences in the swimming strokes might be comparing it to the different forms of unarmed combat. At the end of the day boxing, wrestling, judo, and Tae Kwan Do are all sport #5. Theoretically we can have a single sport where all those competitors bracket off and fight one another until one competitor is left standing (that’s basically how MMA got started after all). But a boxer vs a Greco Roman wrestler isn’t exactly an even match, for either individual. The end goal may be to beat the other guy but the way they do so is vastly different. Swimming strokes are similar, sure goal is to travel a certain distance in the water faster than the other guys, but the way they do so is vastly different and it’s rare to be great at all four forms.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      The fighting sport comparison is a really good one. And (ignoring fencing) I’m probably OK with removing all of them and just replacing them with MMA.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      Good. See I like that! Stephanie Siler you should read this.

    2. August 15, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      I did read this (while waiting for our take-out). Basically, what I took from it was that some constant, moderate amount of noise would be acceptable to players. But football-level noise would impede with their ability to detect info like ball speed and spin (who knew you could get auditory info about spin??), and lower the quality of play.

    3. August 15, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      (spin in general confounds me, from particle physics to tennis)

    4. August 15, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Well Murray said that but Djokovic didn’t qualify it. And as Reuven said on his thread there are tennis league where it doesn’t matter.

      That said I think Murray has a point. I just don’t care. I think that the whole point of sports is for you gladiators down there to compete for my amusement. If you’re asking me to be less amused so you can compete better then something is wrong.

      There was a point when the NFL was trying this. They used to penalize the home team for excessive noise and the QB would ask the ref to quiet down the crowd so he could concentrate and the other players could hear his play calls.

      And my response back then was “fuck those guys”

    5. August 15, 2016 at 4:18 pm

      Chris Maverick I think it’s a little different when you’re not asking to have humans talk to other humans better, but to actually hear information from the equipment

    6. August 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Hmm. Why? I mean I get that it’s a different skill but why does it matter?

    7. August 15, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      Chris Maverick because humans aren’t objects

    8. August 15, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      more specifically, humans decide what information to give another player. the objects just communicate information that has no intention — only a good player can interpret it, while anyone with a grasp of the language or code spoken could understand it (hence, like, the Pats’ whole snooping strategy).

    9. August 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm

      so what noise an object makes, interpreted by a player, is relevant to the player’s personal skill level

    10. August 15, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      Ok yeah. I see the distinction you’re making. But I still don’t feel like that’s worth controlling crowd noise. The reason the crowd is there is to enjoy it. Like Djokovic said, part of the fun of an NBA game is cheering with all the other fans.

      So yes, I see that the sound would interfere but if that’s the worry then sports should be played without spectators.

    11. August 16, 2016 at 5:26 am

      I can sort of see how in tennis the sound made by the equipment would be something the player can react to. But I’m not going to accept that golfers are using echolocation to find their stationary ball sitting on a tee. 🙂

  14. August 15, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Not directly related to the topic, but in the ballpark (or tennis court).

    1. August 15, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      So Stephanie posted this at my request but didn’t really provide details. I know she and I differ I. Our stance here but I am curious as to other people’s thoughts (especially Anders, Reuven and Laura given their responses above).

      I am of the opinion that if say Maria Sharapova (the person I think that made Steph and I first discuss this) feels like she’s playing better if she’s grunting (whether because she’s focusing her Chi or just distracting her opponent) that should be fair game. Especially if it’s the former. Why should she hamper her ability in order to let the opponent focus hers?

    2. August 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      No one would notice the grunting if there were cheering and music as opposed to treating the venue like some sort of cathedral.

    3. August 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      And I’m not a fan of the music and prompts for cheering. If fans see the need to cheer, they will.

    4. August 15, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      That’s a really good point. Which I think might be what Murray/Djokovic might have been getting at.

    5. August 15, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      If, however, the venue is mandatory silence for fans, then she should have to reign in the grunting. Mostly because It would lead to either distain (players complaining) or laughter (right, like it isn’t funny, and doesn’t lead to “I wonder what she sounds like in bed?” comments) which obviously goes against the crowd noise spirit. Shhhhhhhh

    6. August 15, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      (Admittedly, tennis isn’t a sport I watch)

    7. August 15, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Iirc, part of the thing that made people start talking about the place of grunting in tennis was because she was particular loud/orgasmic with it and like 17 years old at the time.

    8. August 15, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Just to be clear, there is cheering in tennis, especially after a good point the crowd can go crazy. So it’s not like people have to sit there quietly the whole time. The umpire tries to quiet the crowd right before someone serves, though.

    9. August 15, 2016 at 5:45 pm

      Also, wrt grunting versus crowd noise, I wonder whether the grunting itself can give the opponent useful information (e.g., louder grunt = harder hit).

    10. August 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Oh. Yes, I didn’t mean to imply that they sat totally quiet the entire time.

    11. August 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      Me either. I just think if, for example, a #176 is getting ready to take a set from Serena, the crowd should be able to cheer the moment and the build up to the serve, the same way they are permitted (nay, encouraged) for and end of inning full-count bases-loaded pitch at a baseball game.

    12. August 15, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      That’s kind of what happens (minus the encouragement thing). But the server only has 30 second from the time the point ends to when they serve, so it’s just not much time for celebration.

    13. August 15, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      A pitcher has 15.
      And it’s not much time if the crowd is shushed. (The encouragement has to stop once the batter steps into the box, but it is not followed by a hushing from the umpire.) If they’re all rhythmic clapping or chanting ” Let’s go newguy!” it’s plenty of time.

    14. August 15, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      Right. It’s the minus encouragement that bugs me. You’re playing a sport. At Olympic/grand slam level. Suck it up.

    15. August 15, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      theoretically a louder grunt could be a harder hit, or more of an effort to get to the ball when caught out of position, I would think.

    16. August 15, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      I don’t think it would be a big deal if there was some moderate amount of (white) noise during the serve, like in baseball. Like I said before, the problem for the server is silence then some jerk yelling out.

      wrt encouragement: If the crowd has to be prompted to cheer, how exciting is the sport, really?

      And I just thought of another reason the crowd can’t be too loud in tennis, which is that the players have to hear the linespersons calling the ball out.

    17. August 15, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      So the problem is one guy yelling, like for golf (which also silences). I understand your point. But I don’t agree with it.
      As for prompting, that’s a completely different discussion. Most sports have it. And there’s no need for it.

    18. August 15, 2016 at 6:23 pm

      So to look at it the opposite way. In baseball, even with the white noise you frequently have the asshole behind the plate yelling “ay batter ay!” That dude is specifically trying to screw your game up. He’s distracting you so maybe you miss something and strike out. Your job as a pro ball player is to say “fuck you, I’m Barry Bonds” and tune that shit out and knock it out of the park.

      I’d argue that Serena Williams is capable of being every bit the athlete that Bonds is.

    19. August 15, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      Chris, same for the player chasing down the foul ball with the fan yelling “drop it!”

    20. August 15, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      Right. And maybe they do… Maybe they don’t. But being the best means dealing with it.

    21. August 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      Maybe they should be able to handle it. But another difference between sports like baseball, football, basketball and tennis or golf is that the former group play long seasons, where half the time they play at home and the other half away. They even do this in postseason. The heckling would be part of the home field advantage, but it would even out across the season. However, in tennis tournaments, which take place in the same location and where it’s lose and you’re out, having some jerk(s) heckle one player at critical points like the serve, to me, is an unfair burden unique to the tennis player. I have heard of baseball layers lashing out at heckling fans, so it clearly bothers even them.

    22. August 15, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      If the serve is the only point of concern, the concentration should be such that between throwing the ball up and hitting it, some schmo shouldn’t be a distraction. That player is the one in control. And there’s no concern given for the one receiving the ball, who is essentially the target for a 110mph projectile.

    23. August 15, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      Stephanie: Answering in reverse: it clearly bothers them. That’s the point. And I think part of what Chris Flick was talking about above.

      You have an interesting point about the home field advantage equaling out though. Except it’s a rule at all levels, right? So even in high school where half your games are at home. So you’re training to not deal with it.

      That said it’s an interesting point. But isn’t the tennis season long too? And I’d argue that someone like Serena is popular enough to effectively be the home team at most arenas I bet. And in the sports you mentioned, when it really counts, in the playoffs, you could totally not have home field advantage when it counts.

      So I think it’s more about it being an individual (well effectively individual) sport so you don’t have your own stadium to call home. Again, I’d point to gymnastics. But also, say boxing or any other fighting sport where you totally want to use all your senses to evaluate what’s going on.

      Hmm… I wondering. Are people more likely to be antsy about noise the more individual the sport is?

    24. August 15, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Hmmm… Reuven’s point is interesting. Why is more consideration given to the server than the receiver?

    25. August 15, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      I don’t know why, but from what I have seen in tennis (and, like Mav said, I watch a lot of tennis), the hecklers just always seem to fuck with the server, and yell out before the server hits the ball. I think, as Mav suggests, people get more distracted by noise they perceive to be hostile to them personally. So, for both reasons, the heckling affects the server more than receiver. Also, in further comparison between baseball et al. And tennis, tennis is an individual sport, so the heckling affects 100% of the team, whereas the heckling in baseball affects a lower percent (I don’t think the second baseman and shortstop can really make out individual hecklers in the crowd, for example.

    26. August 15, 2016 at 7:27 pm

      That poses an interesting question — A sport where heckling an individual team (and for this I’ll count tennis doubles as individual, just not solo) is considered acceptable? I’ll have to ponder a bit. (Alas, I don’t think WWE counts in this case.)

    27. August 15, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      So interestingly enough I just watched a Brazilian pole vaulter break the Olympic record. The crowd was chanting his name from the second he walked out through his entire run up and plant past his jump and all the way til he was walking away.

      So clearly in the pole vault concentration is key. Clearly it’s an individual sport where he likely is often “not at home”

      Here he was at home and the chants were “positive” but it was still noise and so I imagine he still has to tune it out in order to 1) time the jump 2) concentrate on not hitting the bar. 3) make sure he doesn’t land on his head and die.

    28. August 15, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      I would be willing to consider a difference between a shout to distract vs rhythmic chanting. However, if cheering were permitted the former would get lost in the latter which would render it moot.

  15. August 15, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    If we followed your logic on swimming, we’d also have to remove the three legged race and the wheel-barrow race from the Olympics.

    1. August 15, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Well… You’re clearly joking. But that’s actually kinda my point. If we’re going to have the butterfly or the backstroke in the pool then why not have the three leg and the wheel barrow on the track?

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