So, you like hearing girls scream?Honestly I think if something as irrelevant as grunting stops someone from watching the WTA it's because that person wouldn't watch that much anyway. So pretty irrelevant. I personally kind of like some grunting.
So it could be that the higher pitched grunts of, say, Azarenka or Sharapova (higher than their speaking voices I think) just lands in a sweet spot that irritates us while lower pitched ones like Nadal's don't.As part of their research, published last week in the Journal of Neuroscience, they put 16 participants in an MRI machine, played them a range of 74 different sounds and asked them to rate which were most annoying. Their top ten most irritating sounds, with links to audio files for the worst five (although we can’t imagine why you’d want to listen):
1. A knife on a bottle
2. A fork on a glass
3. Chalk on a blackboard
4. A ruler on a bottle
5. Nails on a blackboard
6. A female scream
7. An anglegrinder (a power tool)
8. Squealing brakes on a bicycle
9. A baby crying
10. An electric drill
They also played the participants a number of more pleasant noises. Here were the four they rated as the least irritating:
2. A baby laughing
4. Water flowing
Even more interesting than the rankings were the parts of the brain that lit up with activity when the research participants heard the irritating noises. The MRI scans revealed that along with the auditory cortex (which processes sounds), activity in the amygdala—the region of the brain responsible for producing emotions—increased in direct proportion to the perceived unpleasantness of the sound. The researchers found that the amygdala interacted with signals coming from the auditory cortex, increasing the amount of unpleasantness conveyed by sounds at the top of the list, which all happen to occur in the frequency range between 2,000 and 5,000 Hz.
So Rodolico and Sinclair came up with a simple experiment to find out. They took 30 people and had them squeeze a handgrip as hard as they could, and the handgrip would record the force. There were three different ways subjects could squeeze the handgrip. First, they just squeezed. Second, they squeezed and exhaled at the same time. Lastly, and most importantly, they squeezed and made some type of vocalization. The noise that the subjects made was up to them.
“They basically grunted,” chuckles Rodolico, “although some grunted and some scared some people down the hall with how loud they were screaming.”
The researchers had the 30 participants do this over and over. They randomized the order each time and allowed for recovery breaks. Finally, they sat down with the data to figure out which method of squeezing created the most force on average.
They found that more force was created when exhaling than just squeezing alone. But the discovery came when comparing the amount of force generated when the subjects yelled (or grunted) and squeezed simultaneously. “[What] we found was that there was actually an additional 10 percent increase in force when yelling, which was really cool for us,” says Rodolico. “So, comparatively speaking, the exhalation was more than the passive, and the screaming was more than both. And I’m speaking significantly more.
Sinclairs takes a stab at an explanation: “We’ve actually thought a lot about that, and one of our hypotheses is that yelling may activate the autonomic nervous system, which is the nervous system that controls the fight or flight response — that feeling you get when you become startled or scared, that adrenaline rush that a lot of people speak of. And that may help the muscle contractions be more complete and more forceful.”
I agree. I've rarely if ever heard commentators talk about the awful noise some of the male players make. Some of them sound as though they're in the middle of a difficult bowel movement but it's never commented on.I don't know if it makes people turn OFF but it does make people stop taking women's tennis seriously.
There's obviously a massive element of ingrained misogyny there (ie, the men who grunt don't get anywhere near the stick that the women do). But at the same time fake, convoluted shrieks ARE dumb and indefensible.
I've grown used to them, and enough players I like grunt that as a fan I just have to get used to it. But it's just a stupid, try-hard intimidation tactic, and it's impossible to take a lot of these players seriously because of it.
I remember when I was watching RG, some french commentators said "Halep is really grunting, it's really not feminine" and then I cliked on mute, not because of Simona but because of that old dude (because obviously, that's an old one) misogyny.There's obviously a massive element of ingrained misogyny there (ie, the men who grunt don't get anywhere near the stick that the women do). But at the same time fake, convoluted shrieks ARE dumb and indefensible.