Monday, September 6, 2010
Tennis Grunters: Oh, Just Shut Up!
At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, I'm hoping the International Tennis Federation will stick a cork in the mouths of those players like Maria Sharapova and the unbelieveably shrill 16-year-old Portugese player Michelle Larcher de Brito whose grunts and screams are as annoying as the soccer trumpets.
The grunters insist they simply can't play without grunting (though players through time did without the grunts until Jimmy Connors and Monica Seles started bellowing more than two decades ago). Not many of their opponents have complained that the grunts leave them at a disadvantage, but that's beside the point. When you're paying $50-$100 for a ticket to watch these dorks play, it would behoove tennis not to annoy you. You're paying the players' salaries.
Same with soccer, where those damn horns kept me from watching more than a minute at a time of the World Cup a few weeks ago. The horns were too annoying to allow enjoyment of what many described as good soccer (I wouldn't know, truth be told; 0-0 ties don't strike me as good anything). I complained a few years ago to the management of our pro basketball franchise in Roanoke (the unfortunately-named Dazzle) and indoor football team (the late, lamented Steam) that the music they played was giving me a headache and raising my anxiety levels and they toned it down. That was good business.
The tennis grunters, according to several published reports (like this one in the London Sunday Times) are hitting decibel levels that are dangerous to our ears. A lion roars at 110 and de Brito screams at 109. Sharapova comes in at 101. Serena and Venus Williams are at 89 and 85, so imagine watching them play doubles. No letup.
Hearing damage begins at 85 decibels. A normal car or home stereo at max volume comes in at 100. Pain begins at 104-107. One of those often banned 6X9 car stereos turned up full tilt is the equivalent of de Brito grunting. A grenade "very close" is 191, but you'd never hear it. Your head would be gone first.
Here is de Brito at her shrieking best. And here's one just for fun. Or not.