Friday, 20 January 2006

Fever Pitch

We’re heading for another scorcher of a weekend with temperatures ranging between 35 to 40 plus too much. As a result, I can’t be bothered to sit in front of the computer for too long and process the photos I took during our first expedition to this year’s Aussie Open, so you’ll just have to wait for another photo dedicated entry for those.
So for now, here are some boring observations:
Far too many seats were reserved for businesses looking to kiss up to their clients. A rough estimate of mine is just a bit less than half of the seats, and we’re talking about the better seats (the lower half ones, closer to the action). Even we were sitting on seats booked by Amex! At first we were wondering what the signs next to the sides of each row meant, but using my super sophisticated ultra zoomey telescopic lens I managed to see that they were all company names signifying that the seats were taken for some company shmock that is in an urgent need to lick a few butts.
What troubled me even more than the reservations on their own was that about a third of these company reserved seats were not taken – at a time in which tickets to your average run of the mill tennis fan were sold out a good few weeks ago. Sure, the organizers will still be happy because they sold their seats, but does this really benefit the sport?
I know I’m not being original with these arguments. Nick Hornby, in his classic book Fever Pitch discusses complaints about football clubs (in the book's particualr case, Arsenal) forgetting their true core fans in favour of the big buck companies. Now I don’t know if I am a big fan of these core fans – these are people that tend to regard supporters of other teams in rather subhuman terms – but it is quite obvious that without them things would not be the same: the passion involved with the sport will diminish, companies will lose interest, and eventually revenues would fall. Who will the clubs look up to then?
For me, the disillusionment that followed Arsenal’s major deal with The Emirates about a year and a half ago made me realize it’s no longer about the sporting spirit but rather about the money. As a result, I stopped supporting them. Ok, I’d still like them to win their games, but I couldn’t really care less; the passion’s gone. Luckily, I never cared for tennis as much as I did for Arsenal.
Other than those philosophical aspects, my main problem with our latest tennis adventure was the seats: legroom was so limited it felt as if we were on a flight; even Jo had a problem. Last year we had “aisle” seats so things didn’t seem that bad, but I think it’s not just that: throughout the matches we saw (from 19:30 till a bit after midnight) we had to sit with our legs folded. Luckily, by 23:30 some of our neighbours left and we were able to spread ourselves over a few seats.
Jo had another problem, though: her husband. Don’t ask me why, but a sport event is not a sport event if you don’t shout something from time to time. Knowing the crowd I wasn’t that loud and I also limited myself to rather polite statements, but you could still see Jo inching away whenever I opened my mouth. All I can say is that if it was Haim sitting next to me we would have probably been thrown out (assuming we were to continue our Hapoel Ramat Gan escapades).
Noise was another issue: The crowd was so quiet during the playing itself that my camera’s shutter noise was really obvious and you could see people looking at me whenever I took some shots. As a result I don’t have much in the way of action photos, but at least things became more relaxed as the crowd got drunk, and towards the end of the Roddick match I was able to more freely shout “I love you Andy” in a girlie voice and take some photos (especially of his serves).
The crowd was funny: The first game started with mild “Go Serena”, but when her opponent started showing signs of life the crowd quickly turned to support her in favour of a more thrilling match. The Roddick game, however, was dominated by girls showing their love and affection as well as issuing some invites to sexual stuff. Later in the game the tables have turned and it was the guys that started inviting Roddick to sexual activities (e.g., “sex on toast”), forcing Andy to stop a serve, laugh, and add a joke of his own.
I like Roddick: He seems like quite an idiot, but he is funny and he does give you an interactive show – talking to the crowd, joking. He’s human, not like others who seem to be offended by the presence of the crowd next to them.
I’ll conclude with the answer to the question everyone seems to ask me: Yes, Serena does have a huge butt.

P.S. This is my 50th blog posting. Woo hoo!

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