All this talk about Grand Slam TV coverage has got me thinking about some of the things I don't
like about the way the various networks do it. So, "inspired by" the title of a sitcom, off the top of my head, here are 8 simple rules to make these telecasts better. (We could probably come up with about 80 if we put our minds to it.)
1. No airing of interviews, especially from the practice courts, while there is still live tennis going on.
2. A more even split of the airtime between men's and women's matches, especially during week one. An 80/20 split is not even.
3. During the first week, no best-of-5 match shall be joined before the 3rd set. If the match is one sided, it saves us an hour or more of tedium. If it's close, then we'd be in time to catch the important part of the match.
4. Variety is the spice of life. During the first week, show us a lot of different players in action on a lot of different courts, so it feels like a big event and not just a regular tourney. This should include significant coverage of each match featuring one of the top 8 seeds and, if they're going for the nationalistic approach, all of the American seeds as well. And there should be extensive highlights of ALL
seeded players in action.
5. If they're going to show a lower-ranked American male player in action, they have to show all of the American women who are ranked higher than he is. And not just quickie highlights either.
6. Frequent score updates of all ongoing matches. Don't ignore these because they don't want us to know there's a more interesting match going on at a different court.
7. Prospective announcers have to take a basic quiz to show they know what is happening on the tours. If they fail, they can't announce matches involving players from that tour.
8. Learn how to pronounce the players' names! If you don't know, ask. Get someone down there to ask how to pronounce the name of each and every player in the field, and prepare a guide for the announcers. There was a guy who worked for the old Prime Network named Lou Palmer. He was one of those all-purpose announcers who did whatever sport the network assigned him to. When he got a tennis job, he ran into some tricky names. So he would, *gasp*, go up to the players beforehand and ask them how to pronounce their names. That way, he at least got reasonably close. That's respect. It's bad enough current tennis announcers butcher names on the tours they allegedly follow. But some do it with an air of disdain, as if to say "who cares?" We cares.
And I'm sure the players do too. Is it too much to ask that the announcers do as well?
There's my basic 8 rules. If I had a #9 right now, it would be to verify facts before they blurt something out on air. And #9a would be to wire up the announcers' chairs, and hand me a remote operating unit, so that when they get information wrong, I could push a button and zap them.
What are your rules?