Thursday, 19 January 2012

When is a grunt a scream?

The media continue to pay attention to the sinking of the Costa Concordia. I feel for the families of the dead; and hope that much can be learned from the disaster. Beyond that, I make no further blog comment.

Safer territory is the present Australian Open tennis tournament, one of the four annual "grand slams" of the game (others are the U.S., the French, and the U.K.'s Wimbledon). Because this year's Melbourne event includes Azarenka and Sharapova, we are faced with the horror of listening to these players' 90-100 decibel screams while playing every firmly struck ball. Sharapova has reached 109 decibels.

Other players have ceased attempting to complain about "noise interference" because they get no support from umpires; and anyway, two decades ago Monica Seles led the way and got away with it, so the game now has to live with the phenomenon. True, certain sports have no problem with yelling by participants, and there are martial arts where you can yell into the face of an opponent. The New York Times in one article noted that "grunting" is an inadequate term, and the current (definitely inadequate) rules make no distinction between grunting, screaming or any other kind of vocalisation.

There is quite an extensive debate to be found, if one looks, on-line and in tennis magazine. I have seen no strongly in-favour views expressed, except by the notorious grunters themselves, who of course recognize that the behaviour gives them an advantage. Nothing will change until the WTA deems the behaviour to be cheating.
On a scale of one to ten in world affairs, I suppose this is a one or a bit less.

PS Sources agree that the loudest tennis screamer is a Portuguese teenager, not yet known in Australia, called Michelle Larcher de Brito. She trains in Florida. On a quiet night, do you think we might just hear her...? Nah.

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