BOSTON (CBS) – Someday you might find yourself in a tavern, saloon, barroom or TGIF Fridays and a wise guy reminiscent of Cliff from Cheers will challenge you to answer what he says was the top sports trivia question of 2010. Who the hell are Novak Djokovic and Philipp Petzschner and why should anybody care?
Don’t sweat it; I won’t keep you in suspense. Novak and Phillip are two up and coming tennis pros sharing the courts this week at the prestigious U.S. Open. Not exactly household names, right? Well, it’s unlikely to be any kind of overhand smashing serve or ten hour marathon match that will distinguish these two from Jimmy Connors or Arthur Ashe. No, it’s what happened in the stands while the two racquet boys were engaged in friendly competition. Fans were staging their own competition, one that more closely resembled an Ultimate Fighting Championship scenario rather than a sedate, well-mannered afternoon at the courts.
What makes this event so impressive if you will is that a crude ugly brawl occurred in a sacrosanct venue where for generations the worst dispute might involve a parasol blocking someone’s view.
The U.S. Open Tennis Championships in New York have always stood, as most tennis tourneys, as an example of decorum in sport. Fans usually respond with cheers (more so delicate, polite applause) at the conclusion of a successful volley. Men and women dress in dandy preppy attire, shield their eyes with the latest designer Ray-Bans, and sip chilled white wine coolers. The very thought of a fracas with a fellow audience member is simply too gauche to contemplate. Until now.
Seems a young dude, who was dressed more appropriately for a roller derby match or garage sale, took to cursing rather loudly for much of the set. According to reports (still-pictures and video) an older gentleman and his adult daughter took offense at the behavior of the younger chap and the three exchanged words. Lots of words over the course of many minutes. No security personnel arrived to quell the disturbance. The three were left to their own raucous devises while others in the stands (most of whom were dressed as if they were on their way to visiting their local recycling center) seemed not to notice. It finally reached its peak and boiled over when the senior citizen just couldn’t take much more of it and threw a lame punch at the kid. Both went toppling, the adult daughter subsequently jumping atop the foul mouthed kid. A minor melee ensued with security guards finally arriving to break things up. Notice who threw the first and what looked to be the only punch? The old-timer, who maybe should have risen from his seat and summoned security in the first place! Wouldn’t that beat losing a fight to a twenty-something jerk or worse, risking a coronary?
Lots of fault to go around: The kid for being an obnoxious, uncaring bore, the older guy and his daughter for escalating the shenanigans instead of asking for help, the staff at the stadium who should have been on the scene quelling this before it got so out of hand, and yes everybody else sitting around thinking they were at one of those WWE Pay-Per-Views instead of the grand, elegant game of tennis.
Come on people, get with the program. Sit up straight, button your lips, dress to the nines and get back to being snobs. We liked it better that way. Snobs can be obnoxious but they really don’t bother the rest of us while they’re doing it. At least no one is liable to get hurt (save perhaps for mild sunstroke) and we don’t once again have to witness the demise of western culture on You Tube. How embarrassing. What’s next, boo birds at golf matches? Fans throwing rooks and pawns during a chess match?
To simplify things, how about the tennis associations adopt just one rule? From now on, the only backhand is to be applied ON the court, not IN the stands.