Judy Kay-Wolff

TENNIS, ANYONE?

I have never picked up a tennis racquet in my life … and some days I have trouble counting trump.  Don’t we all?  However, I can tell you from personal experience that someone who is seriously immersed in any game gives 200% of oneself — regardless of the final result.   It is apparent I am alluding to Saturday’s unfortunately disgraceful incident involving Serena Williams at Forest Hills.   At such a crucial stage in a match, unless a foot fault is so indisputably obvious which upon later scrutiny (IN FACT, AFTER BEING REVIEWED ON TAPE)  WAS NOT EVEN CLOSE, how dare an unyieldingly confident official change the course of destiny.   A tennis official is not unlike a bridge tournament director who has a responsibility to himself  (herself) to be 100% familiar with the rules of the game and not take it upon oneself to make an arbitrary call — especially with so much riding on it.    Serena’s reaction, although unladylike, was certainly no surprise.  A true champion (whether tennis or bridge) knows when she has been ‘had’ and I, for one, can understand her inherent reflex, uncontrollable outburst and passion with so much at stake. 

The guiding forces, perhaps in these instances, are those hiring the officials presiding at such a prestigiously watched TV event.   Those at the helm should have been more attentive, cautious and conscientious in the selection of the employees, especially those who have the responsibility of being on the firing line.

The shameful responsibility of the outcome falls squarely on the shoulders of the woman calling the foot fault for being in such a rush to judgment.   Perhaps the Chair Umpire (or whatever you call her), knowing how crucial the call was, should have stopped play and made an exception, reviewed the call, before awarding the point.   Champions play with all their heart and soul and it is no surprise that Serena lost her cool when she felt she had been violated by a ridiculously outrageous fallacious call that could have been justified and reversed by a tape review.  No one is infallible — certainly not Serena  — but especially the official who turned out to be off the charts in the area of incompetency.  Rules are made to be broken — and if ever there was a need for a review and/or reversal — this seems to be the standout tennis case of the century.

I find it hard to abide by irreversible decisions and just as in bridge, perhaps it is time, to examine and review — and keep examining and reviewing the laws, rules and guidelines as often as necessary until we get it right.  We are mere mortals.

NOTHING IS ETCHED IN STONE!  WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM OUR OWN MISTAKES.


17 Comments

JodySeptember 16th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

What would be your opinion of a bridge player in similar big match if came unhinged and threatened to jam “fxxxing cards, down his/her fxxxing throat, shake fist and tell him/her he/she is just lucky they dont do it? In full view of everyone of course. Just the heat of the moment. Perhaps the director made a bad table ruling. No, you handle it another way. Serena could have done that, too. It isn’t just a force of nature, we do have control, and this not the first time this young lady has behaved so, threatened to “get someone in the locker room.” There will always be incompetent judges, and BTW, many thought the fault was marginal, even Serena thot she might have faulted, and could have asked for review right there but CHOSE to lose temper completely.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFSeptember 16th, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Jody:

Did it ever occur to you that Serena is just sick and tired of all the jealousy and bias because of her unparalleled success and this was just too much to bear?. I know exactly how she felt when the director was called to the table on my infamous appeal and the feeling I experienced when an inept director never looked at all the hands and both my opponents lied through their teeth that there was no hesitation by the huddler. People are human and sometimes the proverbial “last straw” is cast their way. I, personally, well understand how such a person feels when she knows she has been raped so I sympathize with her entirely. Maybe better safeguards should be taken to protect against marginal calls and the administration propose better methods of adjudicating those situations.**

**Officials need to be (maybe they already are) instructed that in a closely contested match or game that they are not to call possibly close misdemeanors which interrupts the beauty of the game. In major USA sports, particularly the NBA, the officials are specifically advised to not call close fouls in the last few seconds. As I am sure you can see, that caveat clearly is a necessary, integral part of all competitions and to not do it that way, is nothing short of stupidity.

Danny KleinmanSeptember 17th, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Jody and Judy may both be right, the player and the official who made the call may both be wrong. I did not watch the tennis match and so I have no independent opinion about the incident. However, assuming that both the player and the official were wrong, I ask, “Which is the greater outrage?” and answer that the wrong call by the official (if preventable by hiring better qualified or more impartial officials) is the greater outrage than any rudeness of the playing in reaction to it. Against that, if the player was more than rude or offensive and as Jody’s comment suggests, actually threatened the official with violence rather than confining her reaction to shouting a few obscenities, that is the greater outrage.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFSeptember 17th, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Danny:

I don’t play tennis nor would I be able to recognize a foot fault. However, it seems at that point in the game, perhaps with so much on the line (no pun intended) — it should be the responsibility of the authorities to distinguish what actually happened and halt play. Sure it slows up the game — but so what? It is reminiscent of all the flack at the bridge table about alerts and non-alerts and what a waste of tiime they are. They must be kidding. Waste of time for whom? Maybe for the offenders but not for those who had to bite the bullet because they were not provided with sufficient information.

By the way, at such a crucial stage in the match, had I been in Serena’s position (and certain the official had erred) I am not so sure how much I would have contained myself. I believe in fighting fire wth fire (and besides I am sure the ball would have been too big to ram down the official’s throat anyway). It’s known as letting off steam and the greater the contender is, I would imagine the more irrepressible their remarks when they feel they have been maimed.

JodySeptember 17th, 2009 at 11:13 pm

We’re all sick and tired of huddles, etc if we have been playing long enough. There is no gun to our head. Serena, one of the world’s best, surely knew what would happen when actually threatening (if she didnt mean it, sorry). line umpire. There was another way. You can let off steam I guess, but there are always consequences. I guess I also think of “if you cant stand the heat…I just can’t see justification for NOT penalizing, altho I can see why she did it. HI DANNY!!!

I bought a copy of the famous Houston Trials (years ago} from you and it is great, have loaned it lots of folk, interested in stuff like that. BTW, it’s the account YOU wrote.

ToddSeptember 18th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

In tennis, foot-faults are not reviewable.

Line judges make calls, and, the players abide by them. If they feel a ball called in was out, or, vice-versa, they may appeal (only at the top levels where cameras are on the court) and the number of appeals is limited.

However, foot-faults cannot be reviewed since the camera technology would be different for them. Have you noticed on TV tennis matches that the tracking of the ball for reviewed calls looks animated? That is because it is computer generated. There are several cameras that track the “trajectory” of the ball and a computer calculates the most likely place that it hit the court. It is NOT foolproof as many people believe.

Your suggestion that the line judges practice a revised form of calling foot-faults toward the end of the match is, in my opinion, ludicrous. Ask any good tennis player and my belief is that they will agree. Tennis as a sport has a certain dignity to it (on most levels players call their own lines) and honesty is integral to the game. To win a match with anything other than correct calls in my opinion, denigrates the game as a whole.

By the way, your original statement above, that the foot-fault WAS NOT EVEN CLOSE, is incorrect. I have watched it many times. The camera angle did not and could not show it definitively. And, as I stated above…foot-faults are not reviewable anyway. So, your suggestion that “it should be the responsibility of the authorities to distinguish what actually happened and halt play” is NOT an option within the rules.

The line judge did her job as it was assigned. The chair umpire did her job as it was assigned. The tournament referee, upon being consulted did his job as it was assigned. And all performed their duties with fairness and equality toward the players.

Serena got what she deserved, and what is dictated by the rules, for her out-of-control outburst. Unfortunate timing in that it was match point to be sure…but she brought it on herself. Simple as that.

Bobby WolffSeptember 19th, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Hi Danny and Todd,

I know Danny well and have nothing but the highest respect for him. I also agree with him that, if the player and the official are both wrong, the official is the greater outrage. What I would like him and other readers to consider is to please delve deeper into causes and effect.

When in real life people have confrontations, terrible things do happen. Some even result in death and sometimes over disputes some may even call petty. This is probably, at least somewhat caused, because some people have violent tempers and either have never seen fit to control them or possibly even if “anger management” was attempted in the past, the result failed.

Fast forward this situation to administrating world sports and let’s examine what is involved. One of the common characteristics of a superior competitor is a fierce and unrelenting desire to win. More often than not, this hopefully tends to be coupled with a healthy spirit of fair play, causing the warrior to seek a balance, which could be quickly described as a public personna (PP). This PP usually guides our hero or heroin through difficult times, causing all of the kibitzing public to admire this particular combatant even more (In tennis, Edberg, Seles, Sampras, and Federer come to my mind, but I am far from an expert in this assumption and other more qualified tennis historians should name this list), which becomes more or less public record.

Sometimes however, since becoming a great sports hero, whatever the sport, does not require a PHD in manners and behavior (the list of those hotheads would resemble the Mexico City phonebook). Because of this, administrators should plan ahead and stop the confrontations before they have a chance to develop. Those problem areas certainly would involve “foot faults” in tennis as well as many other situations in oh so many competitions (certainly including bridge).

Without beating this horse to death, my answer to Danny would be “Who is to determine what is going too far”. My vote is a simple “Words, although violent and despicable, should never qualify, particularly if made at a public forum and in a tumultuous situation. An old person’s (like me) judgment, slowly developed through the years, whispers to me that Serena was probably not going to seek out that line judge and cram the f***ing ball down her throat.

Now to Todd, who I do not know, but from his blog, seems balanced, knowledgable and interested in a proper solution to this type of problem. When he says the “line judge did her job as did the chair judge and the tournament referee”, he apparently is right according to their instructions, but those instructions are what these blogs are about, or, at least, should be.

I am suggesting that one of two solutions be considered:

1. With the vast amount of sponsor and TV money now into major world sports, more of it should be set aside (rather than cater to the greed of the players and the politicians) to get the most qualified and balanced people in those key positions. No politics or sloth should be allowed in their selections, but rather cold ruthless attention to detail in this more important than originally thought, enterprise. The selected officials (being paid) would then be accountable to a review board and not be immune to being publicly criticized. Technology can also be improved to make sure, as in this case, foot faults could be properly reviewed and mistakes by referees would quickly diminish, if not vanish altogether.

2. Upon examination within the sport, the troubleshooting arm (TA) of that organization should deftly consider problem areas and their possible solutions. Instead of that organization rankling as to who should be the trophy presenter or the host at the next gala, this TA should be responsible for smoothing out difficult areas. Major TV sports around the world have done a good job (but certainly not perfect) of this in dealing with gambling influences, rogue referees, illegal drugs, Olympic judging, security for the athletes, honesty in promotion etc. At least to me, that is what money is for, not to greedily keep it or pay off nefarious interests, but to have the whole organization pointing itself to perfecting their product.

In conclusion, I think Serena was set up (not purposefully but so what) to be embarrassed. Take it from me, it is very hard to suppress feelings in the midst of off the charts stress, and after all, we should wonder when we were her age, would all the money or acclaim in the world, be able to keep the bogey man discipline with us, instead of once in a while losing it? Those who say “I could” are, in my humble opinion, simply dreaming!!

JUDY KAY-WOLFFSeptember 19th, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Todd:

Instead of justifying the way things are being handled now, why not look constructively ahead to a way of improving them without having to grin and bear it in the best interests of the sport (or game)? We should be moving forward to upgrade our methods and standards– and not be satisfied with status quo.

Judy

Gary M. MugfordSeptember 19th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Judy,

When I was a young ‘un, I was a pretty fair softball player and really lousy at keeping my temper. Tossed a bat or seven and was tossed out probably an average of three times a year. My OWN uncle tossed me from the second game of an provincial best-of-three championship without me saying a word. Well, not THAT day. I’d more or less cursed him out the day before and was warming up to go all crazy on him again. It was often said of me that I would’ve tripped my mother rounding third with the winning run … and that was true. I was l’enfant terrible and totally unrepentant.

As it turns out, I started coaching the sport when I was 14 and was coaching town rep ball two years later. And I continued coaching right through to the world junior championships when I was in my late 20’s. In all that time, NEVER got tossed out of a game. Never. Not once. I was sorely tempted. There was the night in Eringate where, with a runner on third, the ball was hit to our shortstop, who chose to hold onto the ball. The hitter didn’t know this and took a wide turn left after assuming he was out at first. Passed BEHIND our second baseman, who was close to standing in the DARK out beyond the lights. Running out of the basepath? He was closer to the basebath on the next diamond over! Did the home-town umpire call him out? Noooooo. Claimed he didn’t see him. Of COURSE he didn’t see him, he was out in right field! Arguments ensued, heated ones at that. But even then, I kept it cool enough not to get tossed.

Why? Because I didn’t have the excuse of being a child anymore. I was responsible. And responsible people don’t get tossed over a little kids’ game.

Serena Williams wasn’t playing a little kids’ game. So the analogy isn’t completely apt. But at the same time, there is anguished discourse over what she thinks is a missed call and then there is becoming unglued and using language and gestures that aren’t proper anywhere. She gets no sympathy from me. Being a professional means acting like one. Yes, that takes incredible will at times, but does anybody seriously think Williams lacks in that area?

As to the official, I’m one that believes a rule is a rule and rules shouldn’t be relaxed because of setting. Sorry, but a foot fault on the first point is callable and so is one at match point. This shouldn’t be a product of interpretation … beyond the interpretation of whether the fault actually occurred. It’s when officials start moving the line that we get favourtism in officiating. Or confusion amongst the players as to what is or isn’t a callable offense. Play BY the rules is my mantra.

Now, I know that you and Bobby believe in playing by the rules too. We differ on how much time should be devoted to doing that, after the fact, but I know you believe in rules. And, I find it hard to believe that you OR Bobby would devolve into cussin’ kooks when told of a call going against you. Under your breathe, behind close doors? Sure. WE ALL DO IT. But not on the field of play.

We aren’t children anymore.

GM

ToddSeptember 21st, 2009 at 5:24 pm

Judy,

I have absolutely no quarrel with, as you wrote, “moving forward to upgrade our methods and standards”. Of course we should, and the rules of tennis are constantly evolving to address this. My knowledge of the bridge world does not compare to yours but I would hope this to be true in bridge as well and I believe you to be a champion of this cause. My initial response was to address the egregious misrepresentations of the facts concerning the Serena Williams episode last week.

Let me recap:

You stated…”unless a foot fault is so indisputably obvious which upon late scrutiny (IN FACT, AFTER BEING REVIEWED ON TAPE) WAS NOT EVEN CLOSE, how dare an unyieldingly confidant official change the course of destiny.”

This is not true. Once again…NOT TRUE. The tape did not show it to be an incorrect call. It also did not show it to be a correct call. It was inconclusive. Also, to state that the line judge changed the course of destiny implies that Serena would have won. Your use of the word destiny implies inevitability. Keep in mind that Serena LOST the first set and was down in the second. Had I been asked at that point in the match who was ‘destined” to win well, quite frankly, I would have placed my money on Clijsters.

As far as the woman calling the foot fault bearing “shameful responsibility” for being in, as you state, a “rush to judgment.” Well, that is what line judges do. They are REQUIRED to make fast, accurate, decisions. How else would you have her perform her duties? Wait until the point is over and then say…”hmmmm, madam chair judge, I think she may have foot faulted?”

You then stated…”Serena’s reaction, although unladylike, was certainly no surprise.” Absolutely not, it was beyond unladylike, it was unsportsmanlike. That is why she was given a point penalty. (She had already been given a warning earlier in the match for breaking her racket and the second infraction incurs a one point penalty). This by the way is a good rule, one that was instated after the tongue lashings that McEnroe and Connors used to dish out back int the 70’s and 80’s.

Let’s review a few of Serena’s “unladylike” remonstrations…

Williams said, no SHOUTED, while waving her racket at the line judge: “I’m going to shove this [expletive] ball down your [expletive] throat!”

“You better [expletive] be right!”

“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!”

Your statement that “Those at the helm should have been more attentive, cautious and conscientious in the selection of the employees, especially those who have the responsibility of being on the firing line” implies ineptitude on the part of the line judge. Without an incorrect call, where is the ineptitude? However, you went further stating, “No one is infallible – certainly not Serena – but especially the official who turned out to off the charts in the area of incompetency. Rules are made to be broken…”

Well, again I disagree. The USTA, in selecting line judges for a premier event such as the U.S. Open, chooses only the best who have proven themselves through past tournament exposure. Had the line judge’s call been reversed by the chair umpire, that would have been breaking the rules, since there is no mechanism in place to do so. A better choice of words might have been; Rules are made to be reviewed, and when necessary, changed.

Rule 8b in The Rules of Tennis states: The Server shall throughout the delivery of the Service: b. Not touch, with either foot, any area other than that behind the base-line within the imaginary extensions of the centre-mark and side-lines.

USTA Comment: If either foot touches the Court, including the baseline, or the imaginary extension of a line specified in Rule 8b. after his feet are at rest but before he strikes the ball, he has committed a foot fault. USTA Comment: This rule covers the most decisive stroke in the game, and there is no justification for its not being obeyed by players and enforced by officials. No official has the right to instruct any umpire to disregard violations of it.

Jeff Ponder, a former U.S. Open line judge who has worked at seven U.S. Opens, when asked about the Serena Williams episode was quoted as saying, “absolutely, I would have called it. You’re taught from day one that you call foot faults. It’s a rule that has to be upheld.” When asked if it was a foot fault he said, “You can’t tell from the angle on the TV.” Asked if, from where the line judge was sitting, did she have a good view of it? He replied, “Yes, she would have known, absolutely.” This is, by the way, why the line judge calling foot-faults does not stand behind the server where the camera angle was, they are positioned to the side where they have a CLEAR VIEW of a foot fault if it occurs.

When asked about the training that the line judge would have received, Ponder said,

“Anybody who is at that level, who is at a semi-final match of a women’s U.S. Open is a very, very qualified umpire. To be at that level you have to go through days and days and days and YEARS of umpire training to be at that level.”

The next day the following former players and now commentators said…

Pam Shriver, former top ten ranked tennis player and current tennis commentator stated: “It is the ultimate responsibility of the athlete to remain in control, especially when you’ve already been given a warning…and really her actions warranted a possible, regardless of where it was in the match, a total default.”

Patrick McEnroe, former professional tennis player and several times Davis Cup captain: “If that had happened at say one-all in the second set, she could have been defaulted automatically based on what she said and the way she said it.”

Cliff Drysdale, a legend of tennis, former U.S. Open titlist and tennis commentator on ESPN: “The fact is that if it was a foot-fault. YOU HAVE TO CALL IT, no matter when it is.”

Let’s assume for a moment that she did foot-fault. If not called, that would give an advantage to Serena, depriving Kim Clijsters, her opponent, of an equitable outcome. That is why the rule is in place. If players are not called on it, then it is a disadvantage to their opponents. Similar to a result earned by not alerting in bridge…which is, I believe, a favorite cause of yours. Equity!

Let me quote a famous bridge player who once wrote “Equity is the bottom line and should not take a back seat to anything!”

Bobby Wolff

Now as far as your famous appeals case Judy, from my limited review of the case, you got screwed! It’s no wonder you have a distaste for dictatorial tournament directors, appeals committees and the ACBL who are unwilling to exercise their full authority and knowledge of the game to arrive at a fair and equitable outcome. The problem is, you used a poor analogy to make your point. i.e. Serena Williams’ 2009 U.S. Open semi-final. Serena did not get screwed. You even prefaced your first paragraph with “I have never picked up a tennis racket in my life.” Your limited understanding of the game of tennis steered you toward some incorrect conclusions about what actually occurred.

And Bobby, your first of two solutions seems like a good idea. With today’s technology, the ability to review a foot-fault seems plausible with the right camera equipment in place. Perhaps a similar technology could be used at the upper echelons of bridge? Cameras at every table to record occurrences similar to what happened to Judy so that there could be no question as to whether there was a Break-In-Tempo or UI.

Sorry to rant so long about a non bridge related subject, but tennis I do know and there can be no justice without truth!

Todd

JohnSeptember 21st, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Judy,

Todd hit the nail on the proverbial head.

Your incorrect interpretation of what transpired (due mostly to your self proclaimed ignorance of the game) has led you to make some bold statements that, under close scrutiny from anyone in the know about the game of tennis, do not hold up. Serena Williams was responsible for her actions, including her foot fault, her subsequent reaction to her perceived persecution, and finally her point penalty, resulting in her default since it occurred on match point.

There was no incompetence on the part of the line judge (she called the foot fault and there is NO EVIDENCE to the contrary), chair umpire, or tournament referee, who in the end was the person that defaulted her.

I believe you could make your point about the need to review bridge laws, rules, and guidelines better if you used a case where there was true incompetence.

If you should ever happen to run into the line judge you so mercilessly excoriated, unjustifiably I might add, I believe you owe her an apology.

Bobby WolffSeptember 22nd, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Hi John,

When you comment that Todd “hit the nail on the proverbial head” you admit to bowing to what you think to be the major league tennis laws. You follow up by stating:

1. Yes, you Judy has self-proclaimed an ignorance of those laws.

2. Yes, Serena Williams was responsible for her actions and therefore subject to penalty and discipline for not following the current laws.

Please try on the following suppositions:

1. It was then and probably still impossible to determine whether Serena actually foot faulted or not.

2. There may or may not have been incompetence on the part of the line judge for either being wrong in calling a “foot fault” or not being instructed that in certain crucial moments, when it is very close, to always interpret the action in favor of the server.

3. Until big time tennis, with all its added TV and sponsor money decides to further professionalize with:

A. Hiring professional judges who have had rigorous training and agree to be totally accountable for their actions.

B. Having tapes available for all who are interested, including fans, to review, putting paid to determining what actually happened.

4. While spending the money for the above purposes may not fit the general goals of the organizers I will suggest the following:

A. Until they do, the grand sport of tennis may easily be subjected to a real losing player winning.

B. Frustration and therefore temper outbursts will be encouraged to happen by the lack of foresight and the attention to detail required by all conscientious organizers.

In conclusion, the person who should apologize to the line judge should be the chief organizer of the tournament, not Judy, the messenger for improvement, nor Serena, the fierce competitor who was merely a victim. To do otherwise would be running the tournament with the possible winner being the one with the best disposition and manners but also the least competitive instincts.

Who was it who said, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”?

Isn’t it time for all who have the power to do it, to be involved to spend the money and exert the effort to have the best event possible, rather than to serve as “protectionists” for probably less than qualified individuals?

ToddSeptember 22nd, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Judy,

Finally a cogent, thoughtfully worded response. Without the unfounded accusations in your original post. I agree wholeheartedly. As John stated “you could make your point about the need to review bridge laws, rules, and guidelines better if you used a case where there was true incompetence.”

Bobby,

Concerning your suppositions above:

#1 I agree. Keep in mind though that the person in the best position to make that call was the lines woman who made it.

#2 – We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. Foot faults at that level are always “very close”. To not call a foot fault when it is seen by the person charged with calling it gives an unfair advantage to the server. Consequently this would result in an unfair DISADVATAGE to the opponent. Believing you to be a champion of equity on the playing field, whether that field is a tennis court or a card table, I am actually surprised you made this statement. To change the rules based on whether it is a crucial point should have nothing to do with whether to keep the playing field level…

Let me quote a famous bridge player who once wrote “Equity is the bottom line and should not take a back seat to anything!”

(Bobby Wolff)

#3

A. Already being done. Though their pay is poor. They mostly do it for the love of the game. And, they are accountable. Anyone at a U.S. Open who is officiating, whether it is a line judge, chair umpire, or tournament referee is the most qualified in the sport.

B. Tapes…good idea. One that I’m sure last weeks Serena Williams episode may hasten. There are technological problems with it that I will not boor you with, but eventually I’m sure it will be commonplace.

The bigger picture of foot faults should maybe be looked at, or dealt with by Hawkeye except that foot faults are more objectively callable (foot on line Y/N) by single-purpose officials, and they unfold at far slower speed.

#4

A. Always a possibility, but highly, highly unlikely.

B. A lack of foresight and attention to detail encouraging temper outbursts? Possibly. But to encourage the type of display that Serena exhibited? NO. Serena Williams had other avenues available to her to object to any call. Namely, to go to the chair umpire directly. To berate and threaten a line judge is grounds for immediate default. She was actually treated with kid gloves by the chair umpire who did not immediately default her.

In conclusion, I too am all for equity on the playing field, whether that field is a tennis court, a bridge table, or a football field. I agree that every sport should constantly be looking at ways to improve in not only this area, but all areas. I could not, however, stand by while groundless invectives were being tossed about like so much confetti to make a point.

JohnSeptember 22nd, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Bobby,

The person who said, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”?

(Vince Lombardi)

A better mantra, at least one that I try to live by is, “When the One Great Scorer Comes To mark against your name, He writes not whether you won or lost, But how you played the game.”

(Grantland Rice)

Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2009 at 7:29 pm

First John,

Yes, you are living by the right mantra. I, also, try to live by it, and in spite of my rhetoric, think Grantland’s comments reflect on life better than Vince’s.

However, especially since the world is getting smaller, organizers need to be able to deal with very tough competitors and the best way to do that is to be prepared so that they do not have to be accusatory. We need to focus on what needs to be done to meet that challenge.

Bobby WolffSeptember 25th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Now Todd,

Being an ardent sports fan, I take note when megabuck organizations such as the NBA start to orchestrate would-be improvements in their game. At first I took exception with one of their caveats which dictated to the referees, do not, if anywhere near close, call fouls in the last few seconds which would have been called earlier in the game. To put it simply, for a foul to be called very late (obviously in a close game), it must be indisputable. The reason for that seemingly equity destroying agreement is that, since it is as fair for one side as it is to the other (assuming both sides understand what is happening, which they certainly now do) it allows the basketball played (although with different emphasis) to determine the winner rather than the audience (at the arena, watching on TV, and endless critiques to follow) wondering whether or not that foul should have been called. Unusual, yes. Inequitable, probably not, as long as the referees exhibit an unbiased, consistent, professional touch.

Why is this so, one may thoughtfully ask. What right do the organizers have to demand such a thing, and how special do those referees have to be to carry this plan out? The answer to these questions is what has convinced me that what the NBA is doing is 100% on target.

Let me tackle what I think are the answers:

1. The referees in the four major professional sports (NFL, NBA, MLB and the NHL) have graduated to big time in that, since money has flowed into each sport (mostly because of TV revenues), each has seen fit to professionalize by demanding that rigorous training be required, right aptitudes, work ethic, attention to detail and total accountability, not to mention the very strict adherence to staying away from any type of perceived gambling influence completes the gamut.

2. Probably neither big time tennis, nor big time bridge has arrived there yet. It seems that tennis should graduate to following suit with the above organizations and by so doing what, at least probably so, would have trumped Serena’s emotions so that she would have had to respect what was called. Until that happens and the players actually (not pretending to) do have the respect for the officials, such juvenile outbursts will disappear. If one goes back into tennis history, there has been much disrespect shown to tennis calls. It now doesn’t happen with three of the four sports which were mentioned above, with baseball being the exception. However in all of the big four, the officials have the power to personally penalize those outbursts with rather severe and punitive punishments.

Bridge is light years away from both the training required, the competence seen, and everything about the near future. The excuse for bridge is that there is no money to throw at possible qualified individuals to be able to make a living as an arbitrator. If this could ever be done, what a wonderful future it would be with cheating being only a distant memory and the beauty of the game, by way of inflections, breaks in tempo and other tells being eliminated, as well as active ethics practiced with full disclosure (the opponents need to know) being evident every time the cards are dealt. Only a dream, at least for now!!!!

In conclusion, but probably necessary to be said, today young children are groomed, especially at tennis, with the idea of making a champion or at least a worthwhile competitor of them, which in most every case leaves time for little else in their lives. How can we expect that these proposed specialists we are creating will pick up the charms necessary to be socially acceptable both in real life and also on the tennis court? It is doubtful that we will ever, in either the time I have left, or possibly even some of the readers lifetimes, to experience a tennis player for all seasons. It is OK to hope, but do not count on it, or worse yet, give up your day job, thinking it will happen.

JUDY KAY-WOLFFOctober 2nd, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Gary:

With all the action on my other blog sites, I just caught a glimpse of your comment above. Perhaps the reason behind my reaction stemmed from my horrible bridge appeal experience which was so out in left field, it was disgraceful to the ACBL. I recently had dinner with someone on my appeals committee who confessed the chairman never passed out a copy of the hand record in question to the panel, meaning he never saw the actual hand. IMPOSSIBLE.

Human error like that is beyond reason and I have little faith in decision-makers like that. With so much money drawn to the game of tennis, I think better devices should be in place to make unmistakable calls and should not be strictly dependent upon the vision and reaction of some person calling the shots. High powered cameras should back up the calls. Or, perhaps tennis officials should be screened far and wide before selected.

No doubt Serena should have controlled herself, but I can understand (after my experience) how fury takes over especially when you think you have been raped.

Calls like that which have such far reaching results. And, if you have to take a time out — so be it. It slows up the momentum — but so what. The bottom line is a fair decision.

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