My attentive readers will already know that the only sport I care about is tennis. And the only grand slam (major tournament) I have easy access to is the US Open. So when the time comes (right now, for those who don’t know/don’t care), I like to try and attend at least one session.
This year, I’m attending three sessions. One was yesterday night—yep, I got to watch Roddick crash and burn. Oh, American men’s tennis. What happened to you? (Thankfully American women’s tennis isn’t doing quite so badly, hooray for the Williams sisters! And I guess we aren’t a complete embarrassment, since we do have the Bryan brothers in doubles. But anyway.) But that’s not what this post is about.
I’m here to talk about how fucking annoying going to a sporting event is. Now, my only experience is with tennis. But tennis is a bit of a different beast from other spectator sports. There are certain expectations from the crowd—and I don’t just mean by officials, I mean expectations by the crowd of the crowd. For example, if you’re in lodge section seating (lucky bastards), you are not allowed to enter or exit during a game because it can distract the players or officials. This means that everyone is fucking seated and enjoying and watching tennis.
If only this were true for the cheap seats, which are all I can afford. But no. People are constantly getting up and down and up and down and up and down. Right in the middle of points. Blocking people’s views of the exchange. Taking their sweet-ass time getting to their seat. What the fuck, people? Games in tennis aren’t generally that long (games make up a set make up a match, if you’re curious. I’m not here to explain the logistics; go use Wikipedia for that), so just wait until the fucking game is over. There’s usually a minute or so (or longer, depending) between each game. Use THAT time to get your fat ass out of the tiny seat to buy another fifty hot dogs. But if it’s the middle of a game, just keep your ass in the seat. And so help me if you get up in the middle of a POINT (meaning the players are in the process of HITTING THE BALL BACK AND FORTH). I will find you and kill you. Because unless it’s some kind of a medical emergency, there is NO REASON to get up in the middle of the action. People don’t do it at movies (usually), so why the fuck would you do it at a sporting event. You’re essentially missing THE BEST PART if you do that.
But you know what? Most of the time I deal with it without getting too outwardly cranky. People are compelled to drink beer and stuff their face with food (I don’t know WHY, though, since it’s all horrendously overpriced). And for some reason NO ONE can sit still anymore. Do you know how many times I left my seat during the Clijsters and Roddick matches Wednesday? Zero times. I stood up once during a change over (when players switch what side of the court they’re on) to stretch, but I didn’t leave my seat once. Now, I don’t expect everyone to marathon it like I do, but AT LEAST FUCKING USE YOUR BRAIN ABOUT IT. Breaking news: Maybe YOU don’t care about this particular point or game or even set, but I think a least one of the hundreds of people sitting near you does. SO DON’T STAND UP IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. Fucking hell. I mean, the tickets I get are the cheap ones, but they aren’t that cheap. I’m there to watch tennis, not to watch people stand and sit and stand and sit and stand. I get to do that on the train every week, thanks.
Trust me, if I could afford courtside seats, I would buy them. But I don’t have any spare organs to sell to finance that purchase.
But the reason I don’t get too annoyed is because I have to admit, most tennis fans are pretty excellent. As I was saying about the crowd expectations, the thing about tennis fans is that they’re quiet during points—even the fans who can’t sit still for them. Because that’s the expectation. And the US Open is generally considered the rowdiest of the grand slams, and even still I’m sure a football or baseball fan would be shocked at how a stadium of 23,000+ people will fall nearly dead silent when a player is about to serve. So I have to give props for that. And in fact, the umpire will request the fans pipe down if they’re being too loud. And instead of fans flipping off the umpire or yelling insults, they actually quiet down. Because other fans will get mad. I mean, in some ways, these are my people. Not in every way, though. Don’t get excited for me yet.
The Clijsters/Roddick matches were an evening session on Wednesday, meaning play started around 7:30pm. But sometimes this session can go to the wee hours of the morning (last night Roddick’s match ended at midnight, but if Clijsters had gone 3 sets and Roddick 5, we could have been there until 2 or so, I bet). Significant Other and I arrived around 7, bought some merchandise and were in the arena by 8. My dad and his girlfriend showed up shortly thereafter. And then a mother, father and kid sit behind us.
Now, I’m not against people bringing kids to sports. But this kid couldn’t have been older than 8 (I’m thinking 6, but I’m really bad at judging). I know school hasn’t started yet, but this kid’s bedtime has to be in the ballpark of 9:30, and that’s being generous. So they came to an evening session, which are known to sometimes run very, very late.
But I know that’s none of my business. What IS my business is when their fucking kid won’t stop loudly talking and narrating for THE ENTIRE TWO MATCHES. From the fucking minute they sat down (in the middle of the first set of Clijster’s match), the kid is asking what the score is and who’s winning and who won that point and what just happened. But more than that, he’s trying to keep score himself and is doing it wrong. There are GIANT DIGITAL SCOREBOARDS in the arena. So why didn’t his fucking idiot parents just tell him to look at those and shut the fuck up? Then he’s talking about how many people are watching at home and what’s the score? And what’s happening? And who’s winning? And what’s that player’s name?
Part of the reason I HATE watching tennis on TV is the commentators. The American commentators never shut the fuck up. And while I appreciate their knowledge and insight, sometimes I just like to WATCH A POINT HAPPEN without hearing what three commentators think of so-and-so’s new style or racket or outfit or personal life. The British commentators, for Wimbledon at least, are amazing. I listened to their radio feed while watching the matches online (no thanks to NBCSports), and it was blissful. They were quiet during points and then talked in the down time. THAT IS WHAT I WANT IT TO BE LIKE.
So I like going to live tennis when I can because I don’t have to hear the commentators constantly talking. I can just watch the tennis and make my own comments to SO or my dad or whatever, but since we’re all fans we really only talk during change overs. But last night I got to hear this fucking kid talk THE ENTIRE TIME. I’d actually choose John McEnroe’s commentary over that shit, and while I appreciate McEnroe as a tennis player and expert, I generally hate listening to his constant babble.
But the kicker about this fucking kid was that NOT ONCE did his parents tell him to just be quiet and watch the match. They sometimes stopped answering his questions, but the kid just KEPT TALKING. I mean, come on! I don’t usually mind young kids at sporting events, but this was insane. You shouldn’t be able to bring your child out in public if they can’t fucking keep their mouths shut for ten seconds. TEN BLISSFUL SECONDS WAS ALL I WANTED. Breaking news: Not everyone thinks that what your kid has to say is cute, funny or interesting. SO TEACH HIM TO SHUT THE FUCK UP.
The great thing, though, is that my dad’s girlfriend gets similarly annoyed by these things (and she’s not nearly as big a tennis fan as I am, so I feel a little more justified that the kid was just REALLY FUCKING ANNOYING), so her and I got to exchange looks and whispers about it. I try to avoid labeling kids as assholes—because I think it’s really the parents’ fault. But this kid came the closest. Still, the parents get about 95% of the blame for not even fucking trying.
The best part was at about 9:30 they got him ice cream. HE WAS QUIET WHILE HE ATE IT. I was about to run down to the concession stand and buy all the fucking ice cream they had just to keep the silence going. Because once the sugar was gone, he was babbling again. Thankfully, the Asshole family left at 10:30, so I got to watch Roddick crash and burn in blissful commentator-free silence.
So while I’m not opposed to people sharing sports with their children, I do think that they need to teach them some fucking stadium manners first. Or at least make a fucking effort to shut them the hell up. You might be able to filter out the incessant babble because you live with it, but the rest of us don’t have that ability. It was like a fucking drill going straight to my brain. And if I’m going to have an unnecessary lobotomy, I’m going to do it myself, thanks.