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View Full Version : Why does the WTA choose to bury its sportsmanship and player service awards?


stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 10:02 AM
I've tried to make this point over on the other thread, but everybody there is too excited/annoyed about the fact that their fave won/failed to win a fan favorite award that nobody is even slightly interested in the two awards announced today that are actually about something.

Which is precisely my point: why does the WTA go to the trouble of having sportsmanship and player service awards if it doesn't want any attention paid to them?

They couldn't do a better job of burying these awards if they announced them through an ad in Philatelists' Monthly. Why? Are they embarrassed about these awards? If so, why? If not, why aren't they making a bigger deal of them, by giving them their own announcement, and explaining what the winners did to deserve them?

Thoughts anybody?

NashaMasha
Nov 30th, 2012, 10:09 AM
because both respectable awards went to champions of the past , and these joke awards were given to the players , who are considered to be a future of WTA , who needs promotion , who needs articles in magazines etc ...

if Serena wins AO next year WTA will publish small picture of hers for a day or 2 on the first page of their site, if someone like Kerber or Radwanska - we will have to see their pictures for half a year everywhere

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 10:12 AM
because both respectable awards went to champions of the past , and these joke awards were given to the players , who are considered to be a future of WTA , who needs promotion , who needs articles in magazines etc ...

I'd appreciate it if you could restrict your fury over this horrible injustice to the other thread. This thread is about the sportsmanship and player service awards.

JarkaFish
Nov 30th, 2012, 10:13 AM
because both respectable awards went to champions of the past , and these joke awards were given to the players , who are considered to be a future of WTA , who needs promotion , who needs articles in magazines etc ...

if Serena wins AO next year WTA will publish small picture of hers for a day or 2 on the first page of their site, if someone like Kerber or Radwanska - we will have to see their pictures for half a year everywhere

Yeah the WTA is definitely trying to keep Serena down. lol.

AnnieIWillKnow
Nov 30th, 2012, 10:58 AM
I'd appreciate it if you could restrict your fury over this horrible injustice to the other thread. This thread is about the sportsmanship and player service awards.

Calling the fan awards a joke isn't exactly "fury". They are the most trivial of all the awards the WTA hands out. The rest of NashaMasha's point is incredibly valid, and is probably the most likely explanation to the question you posted.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 11:13 AM
Calling the fan awards a joke isn't exactly "fury". They are the most trivial of all the awards the WTA hands out. The rest of NashaMasha's point is incredibly valid, and is probably the most likely explanation to the question you posted.

I completely agree with the fan awards being a trivial joke, as I thought I made clear in the OP. I do have to wonder whether they are as much of a joke to NashaMasha as (s)he's making them out to be. If they were (s)he wouldn't bother to respond to them at all, surely?

As to NashaMasha's explanation: in a word, no. It would actually be nice to think that the WTA was in the business of charitably supporting players ignored by most fans, but seriously: no, just no. To be sure, they devote some space on their site to winners of small tournaments and rising not-quite-stars, but most of their attention still goes out to the cash-cow megastars.

For what it's worth, my own theory is that these megastars are generally speaking among the least likely to win a sportsmanship award, and that they are afraid that giving the award a lot of attention could be construed as indirect criticism of those players.

Chrissie-fan
Nov 30th, 2012, 11:23 AM
To be honest, I don't think that tennis has a problem concerning sportsmanship. If you compare it with a sport like football (soccer) where it's impossible to win even a match without cheating the things we're usually complaining about in tennis are trivial in the extreme.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 11:29 AM
To be honest, I don't think that tennis has a problem concerning sportsmanship. If you compare it with a sport like football (soccer) where it's impossible to win even a match without cheating the things we're usually complaining about in tennis are trivial in the extreme.

Actually, I agree with you. Even what is classed as bad behaviour in tennis is mostly pretty mild and harmless compared to what you see in other sports, and it's pretty common to see pretty classy behaviour, even from players not generally known as good sports.

But this still doesn't explain why they pay this award so little attention, and even deliberately try to divert attention away from it. On the contrary, you would think it would be something they would be proud of, something that distinguishes tennis from most of the sports it competes with for attention.

Chrissie-fan
Nov 30th, 2012, 11:42 AM
Actually, I agree with you. Even what is classed as bad behaviour in tennis is mostly pretty mild and harmless compared to what you see in other sports, and it's pretty common to see pretty classy behaviour, even from players not generally known as good sports.

But this still doesn't explain why they pay this award so little attention, and even deliberately try to divert attention away from it. On the contrary, you would think it would be something they would be proud of, something that distinguishes tennis from most of the sports it competes with for attention.
Well, I agree that it would be a good idea to announce the winner of the sportsmanship award on a different day than the fan favorite poll results so that it would get more attention.

bobito
Nov 30th, 2012, 12:15 PM
To be honest, I don't think that tennis has a problem concerning sportsmanship. If you compare it with a sport like football (soccer) where it's impossible to win even a match without cheating the things we're usually complaining about in tennis are trivial in the extreme.

That's a fair point. I'd like to think there are probably enough players out there with impeccable sportsmanship to make it meaningless to chose between them. In the end this award might come down to how personable they are in the locker room and at the handshake at the end of the match.

A sportsmanship award voted on by the umpires (anonymously of course) might perhaps be more meaningful.

As for the Player Service award, it's defined by the WTA as "the player who has done the most to support fellow players through the WTA Players' Council and other initiatives" which all but restricts it to 8 players before you start. It's a bit like workers in a factory having an award for their favourite union rep.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 12:27 PM
That's a fair point. I'd like to think there are probably enough players out there with impeccable sportsmanship to make it meaningless to chose between them. In the end this award might come down to how personable they are in the locker room, hence Kim winning it 8 times.

As for the Player Service award, it's defined by the WTA as "the player who has done the most to support fellow players through the WTA Players' Council and other initiatives" which all but restricts it to 8 players before you start.

I wouldn't go that far. Even if tennis is more sporting than most sports, in my experience there are really only a few players who in any given year stand out as really fair in their dealings with other players, officials, ball-kids etc.

Most players are prone to rudeness, minor gamesmanship, etc. from time to time, and only a few stand out in positive sportsmanship, like spontaneously conceding a point to their opponent, thanking ball-kids for fetching a drink or a towel, etc. I don't think that Kim has won this award 8 times just for being personable in the locker room (although I personally wouldn't have given it to her this year).

I agree with you that the player service award is pretty meaningless.

bobito
Nov 30th, 2012, 12:32 PM
I wouldn't go that far. Even if tennis is more sporting than most sports, in my experience there are really only a few players who in any given year stand out as really fair in their dealings with other players, officials, ball-kids etc.

Most players are prone to rudeness, minor gamesmanship, etc. from time to time, and only a few stand out in positive sportsmanship, like spontaneously conceding a point to their opponent, thanking ball-kids for fetching a drink or a towel, etc. I don't think that Kim has won this award 8 times just for being personable in the locker room (although I personally wouldn't have given it to her this year).

I agree with you that the player service award is pretty meaningless.

Which is why the award would perhaps be more meaningful if it were voted on by the umpires.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 12:40 PM
Which is why the award would perhaps be more meaningful if it were voted on by the umpires.

That's a good point. Basing it on peer evaluation is another indication of how little thought the WTA puts into this.

bobito
Nov 30th, 2012, 01:02 PM
Another thing that seems odd about this award is the list of winners. If this award truly went to the player who displayed the best sportsmanship each year then you might expect players ranked 50 or 100 to win it from time to time. But the last time a player who had not been ranked inside the top 20 won this award was back in 1993, and even then it was the #3 ranked doubles player. I find it dificult to believe good sportsmanship is restricted to top players.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 01:12 PM
Another thing that seems odd about this award is the list of winners. If this award truly went to the player who displayed the best sportsmanship each year then you might expect players ranked 50 or 100 to win it from time to time. But the last time a player who had not been ranked inside the top 20 won this award was back in 1993, and even then it was the #3 ranked doubles player. I find it dificult to believe good sportsmanship is restricted to top players.

Probably a direct result of the player-voting system, and another reason why that's a bad idea. Although tbh, you'll probably find a similar bias if officials do the rating, simply because more officials will have direct experience with higher ranked players than with any given lower ranked player.

It would be ideal if the award was based on an evaluation given by the ump directly following each match, with the winner being the player with the highest average evaluation score, based on a given minimum number of matches. But that's probably not realistic.

bobito
Nov 30th, 2012, 01:45 PM
Probably a direct result of the player-voting system, and another reason why that's a bad idea. Although tbh, you'll probably find a similar bias if officials do the rating, simply because more officials will have direct experience with higher ranked players than with any given lower ranked player.

It would be ideal if the award was based on an evaluation given by the ump directly following each match, with the winner being the player with the highest average evaluation score, based on a given minimum number of matches. But that's probably not realistic.

I doubt the WTA want the award to reflect which player on the entire tour actually displays the highest level of sportsmanship if that player is not a recognizable name. They no doubt want it to be a marquee player.

I go back to my original point though. I don't see how you can draw a distinction between players like Clijsters, Stosur, Kvitova, Ivanovic, Safarova, Dulko etc regards sportsmanship. They all strike me as exemplary. Deciding between such a group of players becomes a locker room popularity contest. And no player is going to waste their vote on a player ranked 167 when they know that such players never win these awards, which of course ensures that they don't. :shrug:

A side point. In 2008 Elena Dementieva won the "sportsmanship" award. Earlier in the year she had suggested in a post match interview that the result of the Williams v Williams Wimbledon final would be a "family decision". I can think of few things less sportsmanlike than making an unsubstantiated claim of match rigging against other players, especially when you have done so previously with appalling consequences (Indian Wells 2001). That alone doesn't say much for the validity of the award.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 02:07 PM
I doubt the WTA want the award to reflect which player on the entire tour actually displays the highest level of sportsmanship if that player is not a recognizable name. They no doubt want it to be a marquee player.

If they showd the slightest sign of caring who won the award I would be inclined to agree with you, but they really seem to have no interest at all. This year two of the most popular players of the last decade or so won the sportsmanship and player service awards, but other than mentioning their names almost as an afterthought on a page otherwise devoted to the fan fave awards they paid them no attention whatsoever.

I go back to my original point though. I don't see how you can draw a distinction between players like Clijsters, Stosur, Kvitova, Ivanovic, Safarova, Dulko etc regards sportsmanship. They all strike me as exemplary. Deciding between such a group of players becomes a locker room popularity contest. And no player is going to waste their vote on a player ranked 167 when they know that such players never win these awards, which of course ensures that they don't. :shrug:

I don't see the problem if they can't distinguish in any given year, as long as they mix it up a bit. Giving the award to Clijsters 8 times is a bit silly, and a slap in the face to those others you mentioned who have been consistently fair throughout their careers. And pragmatically I don't think it's a bad thing to restrict to players who are reasonably well known, as long as they are prepared to use that player's fame to promote fair play by giving the award some real publicity. But that is precisely what they aren't doing. The award is a rubber stamp, no more no less, so the WTA can claim to support fair play without really doing so.

A side point. In 2008 Elena Dementieva won the "sportsmanship" award. Earlier in the year she had suggested in a post match interview that the result of the Williams v Williams Wimbledon final would be a "family decision". I can think of few things less sportsmanlike than making an unsubstantiated claim of match rigging against other players, especially when you have done so previously with appalling consequences (Indian Wells 2001). That alone doesn't say much for the validity of the award.

Point taken, but I'm not sure it's as big a deal as all that. When all's said and done, probably even the saintliest of players have done things from time to time that they aren't (or shouldn't be) proud of. Unless that's part of a systematic pattern, I don't see this as a bigger problem than awarding the player of the year award to a player who suffered a couple of embarrassing losses in the course of the year. Nobody's perfect.

bobito
Nov 30th, 2012, 02:22 PM
Point taken, but I'm not sure it's as big a deal as all that. When all's said and done, probably even the saintliest of players have done things from time to time that they aren't (or shouldn't be) proud of. Unless that's part of a systematic pattern, I don't see this as a bigger problem than awarding the player of the year award to a player who suffered a couple of embarrassing losses in the course of the year. Nobody's perfect.

That excuses Dementieva's remarks in 2001. To repeat it several years later, knowing that the last time you made the insinuation it incited a racist mob to boo, heckle and abuse a player mercilessly and unrelentingly for 2 hours, was inexcusable.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 02:30 PM
That excuses Dementieva's remarks in 2001. To repeat it several years later, knowing that the last time you made the insinuation it incited a racist mob to boo, heckle and abuse a player mercilessly and unrelentingly for 2 hours, was inexcusable.

Fair enough, but I think this just illustrates that not enough care has been taken in deciding who wins the award.

On reflection, I wonder whether the best thing might not be to ask a panel of prominent ex-players who are still active in the tennis world in some capacity to decide the award. Umpires are probably not in the best position to pick up bad off-court sportsmanship.

bobito
Nov 30th, 2012, 02:54 PM
Fair enough, but I think this just illustrates that not enough care has been taken in deciding who wins the award.

On reflection, I wonder whether the best thing might not be to ask a panel of prominent ex-players who are still active in the tennis world in some capacity to decide the award. Umpires are probably not in the best position to pick up bad off-court sportsmanship.

I honestly don't think there is a need to make a song and dance over a sportsmanship award. Both the format, voted on by the players, and the profile, low, are about right as they are to my mind. It's a little bit of acknowledgement from one's peers that you play the game in good spirit. It probably means more to the player that way.

Good sportsmanship should be the norm and something to be expected, not the exception and something to be trumpeted.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 03:17 PM
For my part there's no need for a song and dance either, but atm the award is given so little attention as to be irrelevant. Just announcing it separately from the frivolous FF awards and writing a few lines about why the player was given the award should be enough. If they can't manage that they should stop giving the award on a yearly basis, which would be fine from my point of view. Presenting it once every two or three years and paying it some attention is better than making it a meaningless obligatory ritual every year.

Tbh I don't follow your reasoning about it being the norm and not the exception. You make it sound as if giving players a pat on the back for doing the right thing will encourage bad behaviour. The way I see it, at some point the players who are currently scrupulously fair could well start to ask why they bother, for all the appreciation they get for it. Just because tennis is currently a relatively well behaved sport doesn't guarantee anything about the future.

Wiggly
Nov 30th, 2012, 03:53 PM
Only the top players or promising youngsters will get some awards.
It's all business.

It's like all the ATP players who set up Foundations.
It's a nice gesture but it doesn't made them "humanitarians" as 99.9% of the work is done by their parent and they only show up to 2-3 photo-ops every year.

Still, it's more prestigious to receive a Sportmanship Award than the Best Twitter or something.

bobito
Nov 30th, 2012, 05:27 PM
I've been thinking about this and I've come up with a solution that you might like.


5 players are nominated by Gold Badge umpires and must include at least two players from outside the top 50.
The award is voted on by all players who played in the main draw of a WTA tour event or grand slam and by all umpires officiating WTA tour and grand slam events.
Player votes and umpire votes form two equal blocks. eg If a player scores 30% of the player votes and 40% from the umpires, they would poll 35%.
No player who has previously won the award could be nominated again. This would mean more players would be recognised for their sportsmanship.
As this is a once only award, the Gold Badge umpires should be encouraged to nominate players who have been on the tour for long enough to establish their reputation.


The winner gets a statuette of a tennis player wearing a halo :angel:


Still, it's more prestigious to receive a Sportmanship Award than the Best Twitter or something.

That much is certainly true.

Wintermute
Nov 30th, 2012, 05:32 PM
The winner gets a statuette of a tennis player wearing a halo :angel:


...in the image of Saint Kim of course.

bobito
Nov 30th, 2012, 05:39 PM
...in the image of Saint Kim of course.

That goes without saying

Israel
Nov 30th, 2012, 05:43 PM
Well because nobody deserves the sportsmanship award and if there was a service award Serena would've always won it.

stromatolite
Nov 30th, 2012, 05:44 PM
The winner gets a statuette of a tennis player wearing a halo :angel:

I thought you were being serious until I read this :lol:

edificio
Dec 1st, 2012, 12:11 AM
Well because nobody deserves the sportsmanship award and if there was a service award Serena would've always won it.

:yeah: