Earlier today, Deborah explored one of the many maddening facets of professional sports' unequal treatment of men and women-coddling and special treatment, which essentially keeps women from every actually being equal. However, there's at least one way that male and female athletes are equal, in tennis, anyway: they all appear to be mildly-to-extremely bonkers when they're on the court.
While tennis feels like a polite game (the women are wearing dresses! The men are wearing polo shirts! It must be polite, right?), experience with previous US Opens and other professional matches has taught us that this is simply not the case, for both the men and the women.
Art Garfunkel lookalike John McEnroe made the Clueless-esque phrase 'You cannot be serious' into a catch-phrase (and a book title) after his most memorable meltdown; Marat Safin is pretty much a tinderbox; Maria Sharapova is well known for her potty mouth and of course, Serena Williams has gotten a reputation for racking up a new one (and a new crop of fines) just about every year, including yesterday's tense verbal exchange with US Open chair referee Eva Asderaki, over a point that many are still debating.
See? Men and women of tennis, going all kinds of crazypants.
But where does the rage come from? Surely, it's natural to be ultra-competitive if your entire life is based on a sport-it's how you get ahead. And of course, there's the solo factor. Unlike other single-person sports, like competitive running and swimming, which feature multiple participants, tennis is mostly a match-up of two individuals, going head-to-head. Which, in a high-stakes game like one at the US Open, is sure to bring tempers to a boiling point.
Still, some analysts are speculating that it may simply be exhaustion-that the schedule for players is enough to drive anyone to the edge. The season, which lasts for 11 months, can have its athletes playing over 80 games per year. By contrast, the NFL season lasts just 17 weeks, with only 16 games per season, and a full week off. Coupled with copious traveling and non-stop training, it's less surprising that tennis players are so likely to end up on repeat on ESPN following their least gracious moments.
And of course, there's the YouTube factor. As one commenter noted on Deborah's article: athletes are entertainers. They aren't just payed to play-they're paid to play to the crowd in a game that can, otherwise, be pretty tedious. And if this doesn't make good TV, then what does?