The Monte Carlo Masters tournament is absurdly picturesque. The glowing, ruddy orange of the clay courts is enhanced by the intense, twinkly blue of the nearby sea (which sea? I could look it up, but that would be on the side of facts, and this blog is not about facts! It’s about hunches! My hunch is it’s some European sea! Moving on…). The players must be happy playing in this splendid locale, the weather temperate and manageable, unlike the brutal heat of the provinces (U.S. Open or Australian Open, e.g.). And for North American tennis fans it’s also absurdly pleasurable because tennis is on your TV the minute you get up. No waiting around for the players to wake up, warm up, tank up on carbs or whatever are their rituals – all that happened while we were safely sleeping. It’s a little bit like Christmas except it’s every day of the week for a week.
Okay, it’s the Mediterranean sea – I did look it up. But getting all your ducks in a row, factwise, is Old Journalism. This is blogging! We bloggers are untethered, wild, intuitive. (Sorry, this is getting old, and too close to Colbert’s schtick to be interesting.)
I guess I want to talk today about the guilt factor in being a tennis fan. To get up every morning to fun, picturesque tennis is to feel kind of spoiled. Do you, really, deserve such riches? Tennis goes on almost all year-round – it only stops for about six weeks in November. Therefore a tennis junkie can almost always find a fix, and now with Tennis Channel and internet streaming, you can generally watch matches you once had to just catch the final score of. The immersion factor is overwhelming and it’s always a question of how to limit it, because you have to. Couldn’t you just watch your favorites? But the more you watch of them, the more you get to know other players and start to take an interest in their fortunes. Could you only watch Slams? Ha! That’s for amateurs. If you follow a player, you’ll follow him/her to the dog-end of nowhere to watch him/her play.
Maybe it's not just me -- don’t all sports fans feel guilty about the amount of time they devote to their sport/s? Lots of them tell me, “I don’t follow tennis – I give enough time to basketball/soccer/baseball” etc., accompanied by a wince – of regret, embarrassment, guilt. We aren’t supposed to give up large amounts of our days to watching people chase a ball around, are we? I mean, are we?
But something occurred to me as I sit here in Starbucks, using their internet because Time Warner have cut me off. (Time Warner have decided I don’t deserve all this tennis access.) Sitting here fuming about their extortionate rates and ruthless cutting-off practices, I thought, ‘life isn’t fair.’ And it isn’t. Far worse things happen to undeserving people all the time. (And I’m not strictly speaking undeserving here.)
But tennis is fair! The rules apply to both players equally; the conditions are the same for both, etc. Is that the source of the never-ending appeal of sports? With the start of each new game, the score is zero, to be determined by a carefully regulated set of “play” by the players. Of course there’s such a thing as inborn gifts, but the players are treated identically and compete in the safe knowledge that they’re playing within a fair structure.
How does this relate to my loss of the Monte Carlo tournament at my apartment? To my loss of all that twinkly beauty and tennis every morning? I’ve lost track of the argument. But at least I’m in the clear, guilt-wise!