Sunday, July 24, 2011

The front rows should always be clapping

I don’t get why people will pay for the most expensive seats at a tennis event and just sit there, glum, non-responsive, as the players play their guts out trying to win the match. Not at all tennis events of course, and not all spectators. Certainly some of the people invited to occupy the players’ boxes tend to get emotional. But even inside the box, you can see other attendees who seem to care more about looking pretty for the camera than supporting their guy. I find this very annoying.

If you’re not going to act like a fan, why attend the event at all? This is what I thought during Wimbledon as the cameras frequently caught an apparently sulking Sienna Miller as her boyfriend elected to pay more attention to the match than to her. She seemed to be doing everything within her power to recapture his attention. And all I could think was, why bother to go to Wimbledon if you’re not into tennis?

And of course because she is Sienna Miller, the cameras elected to keep cutting away to her theatrics rather than keeping focused on the match. So not only was I pissed that I couldn’t afford to go to Wimbledon but I was doubly pissed that instead of seeing all of the match, I had to endure constant cutaways to simpering celebrity drama queens who could clearly give a crap about tennis and were only there to be seen.

All of which very much annoys me. I guess that this is going to be an entry in which I vent about annoying non-tennis fans who clutter up the best seats in the house and don’t even bother to pretend to be interested in tennis.

It is rather infuriating that so many of the people privileged to get courtside views of the best tennis players in the world, often just seem to sit there like so many pounds of lard. And as much as that annoys me, it must be doubly frustrating for the players on the court.

After all, instead of being able to trust that they can look left or right and see people nearby ardently supporting them, they have to endure being circled by people more interested in themselves than in either tennis or its players. Is it asking too much that the people sitting ringside at a tennis match should be clapping and rooting for one player or the other? Is it asking too much that the best seats in the house be occupied by sincere fans of the sport?

Apparently it is. And sadly this problem is not at all unique to tennis. It even happens at entertainment events. A couple of weeks ago my daughter and I attended a Rihanna concert. My daughter pointed out that the people in the first two rows were all standing there with their i-phones recording every minute of the concert. Unlike the rest of the crowd, these folk were not dancing, singing, or in any way enjoying the performance. Smart-phones held aloft, all they did was record her, supposedly for enjoyment at a later date. Or for profit, whichever came sooner.

And I thought what a raw deal this must be for her. To have to get up there and self-generate all of the energy to put on a performance when the fans closest to you are not interested in vocally lending their support. They’re too caught up in the technology.

Of course there is no way to prevent non-tennis-fans from attending events, nor would anyone want this. After all, there’s nothing sadder than a tennis event with a whole bunch of empty seats. But I wish there was a way that people buying the more expensive seats could receive some kind of insert along with their ticket stub with the reminder that tennis is very much a psychological sport and that positive emotional support from fans can sometimes make all of the difference in the outcome of a match.


Kim at TennisFixation said...

I had this same experience at Davis Cup in Austin a few weeks ago - the best seats in the house were reserved for sponsors and were about half empty all weekend. On Friday and Saturday, many true fans moved up into these seats to get a closer view and to cheer on the U.S. (which I think is what the USTA wants us to do during Davis Cup because they handed out all kinds of noisemakers as we entered the auditorium). On Sunday, however, when the crucial 4th match was being played between Mardy Fish and David Ferrer, fans who tried to get into these very empty seats were told to leave by well-dressed young people who then proceeded to sit and text (or whatever) on their smart phones. They certainly didn't watch the spectacular tennis that was going on right in front of them. At least with Rihanna, those people were actually paying attention to her! I personally thought that our Davis Cup team and the Tennis Channel (who was televising the match) would have preferred to have some real fans up front vs. empty seats or seats occupied by inattentive sponsor-employees doing their duty. But I was wrong.

tennischick said...

About to publish a piece I wrote last night on this very issue. Thanks for your comment!