January 29, 2007

Horse 711 - Let The Ruler Rule

The Australian Open has come to an end with Serena Williams and Roger Federer being crowned as respective champions with some of the most decisive tennis I have ever seen. Serena surely has put all critics to heel by making World No.1 Sharapova look silly and Federer passed through his tenth Grand Slam title without dropping a set; I suspect he will win all four in 2007.

One thing I don't like about tennis (which must be said is a game of skill, battle of wills, clever thinking, and athleticism) is the ability introduced at the US Open last year, to be able to "challenge" line calls. A friend of mine suggested that because it is only able to be done on the show courts that this further benefits the top players but I see this as something far more incidious.

The thing about sport in general is that if you happen to stuff up, you aren't going to get lauded, or put a company into bankruptcy, endanger peoples lives or get fired. Sports are one of the few places in this life when one can acheive total perfection. Hand in hand with this happens to be the person in charge, who in my opinion should have total, exact and perfect authority over proceedings.

On the sporting field one is subject to certain rules and the referee/umpire/gamemaster as the authority one is playing under, even if they know nothing and have no concept of the rules, even if they're totally biased, then the players simply should not have the ability to question anything at all.

There are a few classic examples where the referee either has or should have exerted this authority. John McEnroe should have been sent off on multiple occasions for talking back, Ian Meckiff's cricket career was ended prematurely as a result of his bowling action when he was called for throwing four times in his only over at Brisbane in November 1963 during the first Test against South Africa by umpire Colin Egar. I can think of least a few dozen examples of motor racing cars either being banned or disqualified for technical infringements and on the football pitch, red cards are given for unsporting conduct or more frequently dissent.

Why then should professional tennis players who make their living playing what is after all a game, under a set of rules, then be allowed to question those people who have been given the job to interpret them? Grant that the technology exists, but as per the 3rd Umpire in cricket the technology in my opinion should only be allowed to be referred to by either the chair umpire, the linesmen or an independant referee who is still part of the refereeing staff.

I do believe that someone should review referees if they happen to do a bad job but as a player it's out job to learn to take the good with the bad. The ultimate response to bad refereeing is simply to play better. Both champions Serena Williams and Roger Federer passed through their finals without "challenging" anything. Does this prove my point?

Addenda: I agree with BJD's assertation that MySpace happens to look really silly. I for one have never seen a single MySpace site that looks remotely like I want to visit. Kind of like those vacant homes that squatters live in.

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