Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The One That Is Talking About Tennis. . .

I don't normally talk about sport, but in general, I'm a fan. A huge fan of a couple of sports, a holder of a passing interest in others and very little interest in the rest.

Tennis falls into the latter category for me. I'm not going to rant on about use of licence payers' money on Nanny Beeb's coverage. Wimbledon is one of the global flagship annual sporting events, it is unique and occupies a very important spot in the sporting canon.

For two weeks a large number of people will have their gaze firmly focused on SW19, a good proportion of them will be watching the only sporting event which does hold any interest for them.

I'm watching the news right now, and there's a good demonstration of our fourth ranked national sport. This is the list:

1. Football
2. Cricket
3. Rubgy
4. Wringing hands and wondering why we are so utterly, uselessly, pathetic at tennis.

I'll tell you why.

Firstly, no-one cares about tennis in the country except for these two weeks. The interest just isn't there.

'Hang on, Wolfers,' I hear you say, 'there are X hundred thousand people who play tennis every year.' And that's fine, but how many people actually play, rather than tonking a ball about once a year on the concrete at Butlins? Yes, there are a lot of clubs, and the cry goes out that the kids have to get a crack at these clubs.

Every year a lot of very important people, wearing very important blazers, with very important club crests, set off with nice ties that make them look very important indeed, get together. Every year it is the same, these kids have got to be brought into the clubs and given that training. Every year they make the same resolutions and every year they go back to their tennis clubs and explain that kids will be given a chance at these private clubs. Of course it can't happen at this club, we've the members to think about, but it will happen everywhere else.

OK, OK, so what about the schools? Well what about them? Playing fields have been built upon at an alarming rate, and tennis courts are not an economical use of space. I can think of no sport which uses a larger area to allow 4 people to have a bit of a lark. Take a class of 32 kids, you'd need 8 courts to employ them all in a game of doubles, how many schools have that? Even if you play over a half court, how many schools have 4 courts that are serviceable?

Plus the equipment is expensive. Plus the teachers don't have the specialist coaching skills, plus the best weather for this sport is when the little buggers are off on holiday. And why tennis? Cricket, rugby, athletics, gymnastics, all these sports are endlessly calling for timetable space. Then there's the other subjects which demand more focus, cooking, music, drama, art, science. Christ how many kids are leaving school unable to bloody read and count? And you want them to learn tennis? No, the time is better spent on errrm, personal, social, citizenship, political indoctrination, benefit forms filling in, diversity, inclusivity class or whatever it is called this week. With the amount of different groups making demands that their own special interest is timetabled, it is a wonder the little angels aren't putting in 14 hour, 6 day weeks.

Tennis is an irrelevance, and is treated as such. So let's stop this bullshit every summer, can we? Let's just sit back and enjoy watching the miserable Scottish lad who is quite good, and will almost, but probably not quite, win Wimbledon. Then we can forget the sport until next June.

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