Some more BS from Frank Deford. Seems to think Americans are from mars. -
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post #1 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 12:04 AM Thread Starter
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Some more BS from Frank Deford. Seems to think Americans are from mars.

Wonder if this article's been posted. I just couldn't make head or tail of it, except that its a load of crap. Can someone explain?

The male American Dream, athletic division, is now this: Every little boy hopes to grow up to become a good enough player to someday be celebrated with his own bobblehead doll.

Certainly, we know, too, that the best young male American athletes are not concentrating on tennis anymore. The U.S. Open, which is now the richest sports event in the world, opened this week with only four homegrown men among the 32 seeded players. It was not that long ago that half of all male tournament players were from the United States, but as tennis has become more and more international, American representation has dropped off precipitously.

The American presence in men's tennis is actually even more diminished than it seems, because two of the four seeded U.S. players are Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, both of whom are over 30 -- dotage, in a physically demanding sport where players rarely compete past their 20s. Poor Sampras seems to have aged overnight. Until very recently everybody kept asking whether he would ever win another tournament. Sadly, now, with every tournament he enters, it's problematic that he'll even win a match.

Agassi's decline has not been quite so dramatic, but he is clearly not the commanding force he was only a couple of years ago, and it seems only a short while before he bows out and joins his wife, Steffi Graf, in a contented life of parenthood and desert leisure.

This leaves U.S. men's tennis in the hands of the 25th-seeded James Blake and, most particularly, with Andy Roddick. The 11th-seeded Roddick will celebrate his 20th birthday this Friday, and, is, incredibly, the only serious American championship hope for the immediate future -- this from a country that has rarely failed to have at least one player at the top of the tree. Indeed, except for the 1960s, the United States has produced a great male tennis champion in every decade of the 20th century.

Moreover, starting before World War I with Maurice McLoughlin , who was known as the California Comet, almost all of the top Americans were, like Sampras, great servers. The Comet, Bill Tilden, Ellsworth Vines, Don Budge, Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzales, Tony Trabert, Arthur Ashe and John McEnroe all had offensive games where the serve was paramount, where attacking the net was the purpose. Only Jimmy Connors didn't fit that mold, and he was certainly aggressive enough after his own fashion. So, too, did the great Australians play serve-and-volley when they ruled tennis.

Now, though, as the Europeans have taken control of men's tennis, the game has begun to mimic their favorite team sport. Tennis has been soccer-ized. Tennis now is played almost entirely from the baseline, side-to-side rather than up and out. The slashing, advancing style always favored by the best Americans -- analogous to the home run, the fast break, the long pass -- has been superceded by the more patient, wearing Euro-soccer style. The large, kryptonite rackets allow players to hit harder than ever, but it's not a vigorous, exciting, advancing power. Tennis used to be cavalry. Sound the bugle! Now it's artillery. Mark the coordinates.

Curious as it may be for this nation of immigrants, we Americans have never cottoned to foreign athletes. Now that men's tennis is not only dominated by non-Americans, but also played in an un-American style, you have to wonder how long the U.S. Open -- and the game itself -- can sustain popularity here.
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post #2 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 12:10 AM
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post #3 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 12:19 AM
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I understand it. FD knows that Americans are fickle and frankly "most" of us will only cheer our own. Notice I said most not all. He is questioning wether the popularity of men's tennis will be sustained in America without any American men ranked at the top. He thinks it won't. I know it won't. There is a reason Soccer is not that popular over here and that's partly because we don't win anything in soccer, we are also rans in soccer. Popularity didn't pick up until the Women won the World cup and then the Olympics.

That's the way it is over here. Oh well the USTA better get on the ball looking for new talent or interest in Men's tennis will plummet in the USA or has it already started?
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post #4 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 02:24 AM Thread Starter
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Why not just state it without taking swipes at soccer and Europeans? I know he categorises soccer as "unamerican". Why not state his views without bringing socer into it? And what's this style of "American play" etc etc. Tennis is an individual sport and the styles pretty much based on an individual and not on a person's nationality.
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post #5 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 02:32 AM
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Hey A4 - I'm posting to the board after all

I agree - the soccer analogy sucks. And it sounds like he's pinning the boring baseline game on the Europeans - LMAO. Gee, what does he think the non-Sampras Americans are?

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post #6 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 03:07 AM Thread Starter
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Why not just state it without taking swipes at soccer and Europeans? I know he categorises soccer as "unamerican". Why not state his views without bringing socer into it? And what's this style of "American play" etc etc. Tennis is an individual sport and the styles pretty much based on an individual and not on a person's nationality.
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post #7 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 03:52 AM
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What Frank Deford says about the style of the game changing is SPOT ON. It is true, that these days it's mainly about players belting the cr@p out of baselines drives. The game of all court tennis involving attacking plays, volleys, lobs, drop shots, strategy etc has diminished markedly since the advent of powerful rackets and the shift from grass court to hard court play. How many Serve & Volley players are there on the tour today to provide some variety in styles? You could count them on one hand.

Also, he is not far off the mark when he infers that quite a number of Americans have lost interest in mens tennis with the fact that American men are not dominating at the moment. It would be the same for most countries. When there is an Aussie doing well in tennis, the public here certainly take more interest in affairs. I am talking about the general public btw, not die hard tennis fans, who will follow the sport regardless of whether their favourites (including countrymen & women) are doing well etc.

Personally, I think Frank is a great tennis journalist. We have had similar articles published in Australia by some of our tennis scribes who understand the history of the sport, and how dramatically the game has changed since the mid 70s.

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post #8 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 04:46 AM
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What.. more whining about how the "game has changed"? Yes the game has changed. Why? Because players want to WIN. Geez, if players were winning playing serve & volley tennis, you can bet there would be more serve & volley players. Does the equipment have a role in the style of play? Duh...of course. But the equipment effects golf, football baseball and just about everyother sport known to man. Why the whinning? Guess what...if you eleiminate just about all the grass court tounements on the eliminate the encentive for players to play a serve and volley style. Why should players be obligated to play a style unsuited to the playing surfaces the vast majority of tennis is played on? Since Defored is not suggesting that all these hard courts be ripped out and grass planeted in its place, this article seems to nothing more than a mindless whine.

Has the game changed? Yes...but so what? Option football teams can't compete for national titles anymore in college football. Nobody bunts in the American league anymore, due to the DH. Modern "kryptonite-shafted" golf clubs turn old traditional golf courses into Put-Put courses. So be it. Adapt or die. Complianing about change won't help.

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post #9 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 04:57 AM
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I knew his hate towards my favourite player had only one ground.
lol to all people who saw worth in it

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post #10 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 05:07 AM
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2000 Olympic Women's Soccer Final:


So HA!!

Congrats to USA for winning World Cup & Olympic Silver though


Good luck Nathalie Dechy & Dinara Safina too!
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post #11 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 05:18 AM
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Look, you're missing the essential point. If men's tennis goes down in the USA, tennis coverage period goes out the window. And he's saying the absence of top American male players will have that result. America's the biggest TV market in the world. If US TV isn't covering tennis, the sport will be hurt worldwide. How long can the US support three Tier I tournaments and five Tier II tournaments with no TV? Well if the men have no TV, for damn sure the women won't have TV. What other country can take up the slack?

If tennis loses the US TV market it is well and truly fucked. And I don't think Andy Roddick is the answer.

The sport certainly HAS changed, and the equipment certainly IS why, but that isn't a reason to go back. High tech racketry has made everyone's passing shots lethal. Only guys who are cat-quick and nasty as hell venture up there with any regularity. Maybe 5% of the tour has the physical equipment to even try. DeFrod's war anology is correct. Tennis used to be about infantry. Now it's about artillery.

No need to change anything. Unless you're losing sponsors you can't replace. Or sponsors are asking for rebates. Do you think people who bought commercial time during the Wimbledon men's final were happy at the paltry numbers. (Well, compared to the Williams sisters, anyway.)

We had best to enjoy our selves, becasue how much tennis we see in the US in the next few years, pretty much rests on women's liberation and how many Slams Andy Roddick wins. Be afraid.

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post #12 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 05:21 AM
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I found him quite insulting towards the Europeans. Typically chauvinistic stereotypes.
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post #13 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 05:23 AM
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Also I guess EUROPEANS Edberg, Becker and Navratilova were "patient baseline players" What an idiot!
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post #14 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 05:50 AM
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I have to say that this article is completely insulting to Europeans and I say this as an American. Deford basically states the european way is inferior to the American way, how completely egocentric is that. If tennis sucks in the US it doesn't necessarily mean it is going to suck elsewhere, it goes in cycles. Being a child of the military I spent a lot of my youth in the 90's in Europe, specifically in Germany. There was so much tennis on TV in Germany back then it was great, it was really shocking when I came back to the US at the lack of tennis coverage in comparison. IT was equally shocking to me when I went back to Germany last year and saw an incredible decrease of tennis on tv now in comparison to the early- mid 90's, but I guess that reflects a lack of top players in that country. Frank needs to understand Tennis is a world wide game which isn't going to die just because us Americans or any other country start sucking at it.
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post #15 of 32 (permalink) Old Aug 29th, 2002, 06:21 AM
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He doesn't say it's inferior, he says it's different and unappealing to American casual spectators.
I don't know why you're all getting so up in arms.
Serve and volley play is more fun to watch than baseline play in men's tennis.
The lack of S&V players leave the tour boring.
I think the soccer analogy is fair because, just like tennis, there is more than one way to play soccer.
I prefer to watch Brazil or Nigeria play against a European team, than to watch two European teams (excluding the Dutch, they usually play all out) because most of the time, it seems that if the stakes are high European teams are too cautious.
Watching two personality challenged baseliners on the men's side is like watching Italy v. England in soccer. You know they have talented players that can put on a great show (and often do with their pro teams) but when they are playing for the country they play to "get a result" not to entertain.
There's nothing wrong with anyone who is paying to watch a sport wanting entertainment as well as victory.
Not a lot of entertainment in the ATP and it isn't just anti-Euro, Sampras has been criticized his entire career for being boring even though he's American and winning.

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