Tennis is tougher than the World Cup

UPDATE: Isner finally defeated Mahut in 11 hours and five minutes: 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68

This blog has seen several posts about competition. I contend that every game is an attempt to create a fair test that determines which side is best, given the victory conditions agreed upon for that game. This is the raison d'ĂȘtre of sporting contests - to answer that question.

That said, I am sick to fucking death of the World Cup. Games which end in a tie, have, by definition, failed to answer this basic question. In fact, games which are allowed to end in a tie, serve only one purpose - they extend the length of the tournament. All tournaments that use formats other than single elimination are designed to do this. They are perfectly suited for children's sports, actually. If, for example, you play a double elimination tournament in Little League, it guarantees that the kids get to play at least two games, no matter how badly they play. A round-robin tourney is even better - you can lose to every single team there (France...) but at least you get to be on the field a lot.

In the case of professional football players, this sort of gentleness is unnecessary - they are big boys, they can handle losing one game and going home. The fact that the "real" part of the tournament - the final 16 - is played with extra time and shootouts to bring the games to a conclusive end shows that FIFA is aware that ties are useless, and ultimately dissatisfying. It has been argued in the past that football is so taxing that making the early games in the tournament go into extra time would be too much for the players. This is nonsense - the truth is, the World Cup uses this format to make certain that about eleventy-jillion dollars are made during this month. The same is true of the sketchy ball they are using for this World Cup - it's not about the contest, it's about the benjamins.

As if to make my point crystal clear, we have the ongoing battle of France's Nicolas Mahut and John Isner of the United States, currently taking place at Wimbledon. These two guys have logged 10 hours of tennis, in a match that is now going into its third day. At the time I'm writing this, Isner and Mahut are tied at 59 games all in the fifth set. Isner has served 98 aces, while Mahut has served 94. The match has been stopped twice on account of fading light, and will resume tomorrow.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you don't accept ties. This is dramatic, exciting, record-breaking sport - as opposed to the boring, ho-hum crap the World Cup has offered up. You don't hear these guys complaining about it being too taxing; they are just going to keep playing until there is a winner! (Also - and this is completely unrelated to my beef with ties, just a personal note - I would like to point out that those goddamned plastic vuvuzela horns are not allowed in the stands at Wimbledon!)

Tennis doesn't mess with the ball. Tennis doesn't allow bad behavior, from fans or players, and most importantly, tennis doesn't accept ties. The World Cup folks could take a tip from tennis.

Couple the completely boring World Cup results (a full quarter of the games played so far have ended in ties, according to this results chart), the ball that everyone hates, and the general tendency of soccer players to fling themselves to the ground as though shot with a large calibre handgun whenever another player's sleeve brushes them, and you have a recipe for an embarrassingly lame tournament.

There - I said it. The World Cup is lame. I am prepared for the ire of the fans of the world's most popular game, but seriously, this is pretty sad.


Mayren said...

I know there are a bunch of Footballers out there somewhere but The US as a stereotype of majority could usually doesn't care for this event. Supposedly around the world it gets bigger coverage than our American Idol, Superbowl, and World seriers combined but really and truly i can't find one single person here in So.Cal who cares.... it's also possible they are all lakers fans so "soccer" isn't their thing?

I personally am not drawn to it. not against it perse but not drawn. I like Tennis however. I like volleyball, Tennis, College Football, and Gymnastics. eh *shrug*

His Sinfulness said...

Even the TV audience is dwindling this time due to those stupid horns!

I loved playing soccer when I was a kid, but the players, fans, and organizers of this event have all missed the boat. It's no longer enjoyable to watch, it's become a soap opera.

Mayren said...

thats a bummer that something good from the past yet again has been squashed by soap opera syndrome.

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