Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Summer; Time to Complain about Women Grunting in Tennis

Maria Sharapova
Quiet At US Open? WTA Plans Crackdown On ‘Excessive Grunting’
A plan to crack down on ultra-loud grunting in women’s tennis has been “unanimously green-lighted” by the WTA players’ council, representatives from all four majors and the International Tennis Federation, according to USA Today.

“It’s time for us to drive excessive grunting out of the game for future generations,” WTA CEO Stacey Allaster told the publication.
Victoria Azarenka
Last year this controversy got going as usual but no actual rules were made, but the BBC implemented software to soften their voices on TV.
Umpires would use a handheld device to measure the on-court sound and rule whether it exceeds a to-be-determined acceptable level, USA Today reported.

But there’s a catch. The current generation of screamers – like Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka – would get a pass. The plan also wouldn’t apply to the men’s game.
Elena Dementieva
I don't see how this works at all.  If grunting is an advantage at all, and the women who do it clearly believe it is, to grandmother in the existing grunters gives them a permanent advantage over new players coming up.

According to Wikipedia (I know, I know, but this ain't that important):
Monica Seles and Jimmy Connors are often credited with starting the "grunt" in tennis in the female and male games respectively. Examples of modern tennis players who grunt are Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Elena Dementieva, Victoria Azarenka, Michelle Larcher de Brito, Martino Lopez, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic.
Michele Larcher de Brito
 Katy Waldeman at Slate Magazine offers a spirited defense of women grunting...
...I was dismayed to read that the Women’s Tennis Association wants to start regulating grunting. Convinced that loud female grunts distract opponents and annoy fans, the organization unveiled a plan to 1) develop a hand-held device with which refs can measure on-court grunting levels, 2) set a maximum volume for grunting during a match, and 3) teach aspiring woman athletes at tennis academies and development programs how to compete quietly.

This quest for a daintier and more decorous women’s circuit has been blessed by luminaries like nine-time Wimbledon singles champion Martina Navratilova, who insists that female players’ grunts are “louder and more abrasive” than men’s. (How does she know? Did she get a trial version of the grunt-o-meter?) Even feminist icon Billie Jean King seems to regard the WTA’s campaign against “excessive grunting” as a step forward...
See better pictures of grunting tennis women below the jump
Maria Sharapova

Fair play has become the veneer under which the anti-grunt brigade hides its sexism. Favorable coverage of the WTA’s plan suggests that, while male players groan out of necessity, women in tennis are engaged in a kind of “ritualized yelling.” Their vocalizations aren’t “natural” or “involuntary,” but “tactical.” At least, so says Business Insider’s Tony Manfred in an article dubbed, charmingly, “No, Wanting Women's Tennis Players To Stop Screaming All The Time Doesn't Make You Sexist.”

Maria Azarenka
“Male and female tennis players don’t grunt with equal frequency and vigor,” Manfred writes. “The grunts in women’s tennis … aren't the result of intense physical exertion over a long period of time.” Instead, they represent “a superficial, ear-splitting tactic used for a variety of reasons.”

Even if he’s right (and to me, his claim—girls don’t naturally make unattractive noises; they’re just being manipulative—earns a big WTF), I’m not sure I buy the subsequent argument, which boils down to: Well, men aren’t doing it, so women shouldn’t be allowed to, either.
Elena Dementieva

Because, so what if lady tennis players grunt in part to distract each other? As Erin Ryan over at Jezebel observes, professional sports are rife with intended and unintended distractions: “Baseball players adjusting their balls all the time … Ugly goalie helmets in hockey ... Corporate logos splashed all over every single golf tournament.” Anna Kournikova’s beauty is distracting, as are Michael Phelps’ ears and the mere fact of Dennis Rodman. And it seems to be mostly fans, former or waning stars, and officials who are complaining about the grunting anyway. If female players sounding their barbaric yawps on the Wimbledon green prove sooo distracting, perhaps the better question is: Why?
Michelle Larcher de Brito

Because of sex. A woman grunting on the tennis court sounds like she’s having a baby or having sex. And not very ladylike sex—primal, bestial, no-holds-barred sex, the kind that stodgy Wimbledon-goers are loathe to imagine in their country club. With that specter of nooky comes empowerment and a possible inversion of gender norms: What else can these Amazonian women pull off without male assistance?
OK, so, it's a bunch of feminist BS, but I'll go with it.  Having women grunt on the court doesn't bother me in the least.  Maybe that's because I don't watch women's tennis.

 Wombat-Socho checked in early this week with The Other McCain's Rule 5 list "Exile on Duke Street".

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