Sunday, May 29, 2005

I'm sick of Bud Collins

Collins' latest insult is to call all of Lindsay Davenport's French Open opponents prior to Kim Clijsters "no-names." While it is true that Katerina Srebotnik, Shuai Peng, and Virginie Razzano are ranked well below the world number one, calling them no-names not only insults them, it insults Davenport.

So far, all of Davenport's French Open matches have gone to three sets, not what one would expect from a world number one, but not really unexpected in this circumstance: Davenport always struggles on red clay, and she did not play any of the European warm-up tournaments. And to the casual watch-only-the-Grand-Slam-final-matches reader, Srebotnik, Peng, and Razzano are indeed no-names. But to people who follow tennis, they are not. Peng, before entering the WTA tour, earned eight ITF singles titles. Srebotnik has three WTA singles titles.

This isn't the first time Collins has said something nasty. In 2003, he complained that a group of "players who can't play" were competing to be the next Anna Kournikova, that is, the next celebrity fashion plates. Though I, too, find it offensive for WTA players to become cover girls, in this case, Collins was talking out of his ass. At the time, I said that each of the players to whom Collins had to be referring was a proven tennis prodigy.

And I was right. Jelena Dokic won five WTA singles titles and was ranked number 4 in the world before her career was toppled by serious family problems (yet another abusive tennis father). Daniela Hantuchova won one WTA singles title and was ranked number 5 in the world before family problems curtailed her career, also. She is currently trying to regain her former status, and has worked her way up to number 22.

Elena Dementieva, a former world number 4 and currently ranked number 5 in the world, has won four WTA singles titles, and has been a finalist in two Grand Slams. And the other pretty blonde girl who "can't play" is Maria Sharapova, currently ranked number 2 in the world. Sharapova has won nine WTA singles titles, was the 2004 Wimbledon singles champion, and also won the 2004 end-of-season championships.

Please Bud, do us all a favor and shut the hell up.


First and foremost, Bud Collins is (and long has been) an effete snob whose opinion matters only to the Madison Avenue bottom-feeders with their noses up his butt. The network keeps him around because he's achieved the sort of 'senior statesman' role that advertisers feel lend credibility to a sport that is compelled to pander to the casual fan. Apparently, only by name-calling (or in this case, 'no-name-calling') can he keep the buzz going, as you correctly pointed out, among the casual fans who spend the majority of their hard-earned sportswear dollars on products endorsed by the media darlings created by the 'experts'.

If he extends credibility to Davenport's victories, he risks the American public's acceptance of her as the standard-bearer. It's simply easier for him to sell someone else. Personally, I'd much rather listen to Rosie Casales (I hope I spelled her name correctly), at least she played the game.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:43 PM  

Well said.

Here's a story for you, Bob. When I was at the Family Circle Cup during a day match, a woman behind me was complaining that the night match was between Schnyder and Vaidisova, and "who wants to watch that? I turned around and told her that a whole lot of people did, and I was one of them. She looked at me like I was crazy.

And despite the howling winds and icy-cold weather, the stands were full that night when Patty gave the up-and-coming star a lesson in clay court tennis.

By Blogger Diane, at 10:56 PM  

Exactly. And, this, is the one immutable feature of American society. We love to polarize our athlete 'heroes' into two groups, the super-stars and the lovable losers. Anyone who doesn't obviously fall in one group or the other isn't worthy of our time. On the men's side of tennis, currently, Americans will never embrace Federer because he isn't, well, American. Forget the fact that he's head and shoulders above any other player in the world, he can't be any good because that would mean that WE aren't at the top of the food chain.

I guess, in terms of all the other atrocities currently being inflicted in the world, this is a tempest in a teapot, but, damn, just once I'd like to see nationalism put aside for just a couple of minutes.

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