The other day I was teaching my two-year-old niece how to watch a tennis match.
We were sitting on the couch, she on my lap facing me and reading the match and my expressions now and then. It was a Nadal-Hewitt game.
After a few moments of contemplation she remarked very loudly , “ Itsh sho funny theje pheople hit the ball with that thing for shuch a long thyme!”
Every time a point was lost and one of them served she used to throw her hands helplessly in the air and shout, “ Uh-Oh there he goej again! Itsh sho funny”
I taught her that “we” were supporting the guy with the blue headband, the one with long hair and a sleeveless Nike t-shirt. She very proudly declared, “ Oh I don’t like ‘im tha’ much. He wears funny pants!” My niece has been lucky enough to have a sensible mom around. She has been raised without a TV in the house and she reads books and goes for a walk in the evenings. They stay in a small town in Wyoming and she was here to have a taste of “India”.
I got thinking later. All the games that we enjoy watching are really funny if you subtract all the competition, money and statistics from them. I mean what is soccer? Angry people chasing a ball all across the ground! Or even cricket for that matter!
It takes such a long time, again with people hitting and chasing a stupid ball all over the place! Tennis is about a bunch of high maintenance, ambitious, fierce and edgy kids running around on court surrounded by similar spectators!
Men watch men’s tennis for the break points and tiebreakers and men watch women’s tennis for all the athletic long legs. Women never even stay long enough on court for other women to pick up their fashion statements.
Half the things are in vain. What is with Nadal’s shoes with Rafa written on them?
Oh, and the suave Federer walking in with an out-of-place white jacket on his dri-fit Nike gear!
Besides all of these things, it is so unnervingly refreshing! A great match can set my spirits right even after a catastrophic day at work. Watch the spectators during an intense volley. They might as well have clocks over their heads with such perfectly coordinated head moves! Then, the one who loses the point after such a long volley shakes his head in shame and yells at himself! All for a stupid green ball! It really IS funny if you see it from a two-year-old kid’s perspective.
Every inch of the court is booked by sportswear brands. It is like a different parallel Universe in there. Where all the fancy shades, pretty hats and nervous, expensive shoes are worried about the battle for the green ball.
Maybe we should have a Calvin Ball in real life too! Something that would have complex and creative rules and would keep all the two-year-olds entertained.
Well, I must confess that somewhere after two sets, even my niece began liking it. I guess that is what it is all about, being so simple and full of rivalry. Being so fast as to render linear thought impossible during the match. Being so intense focused and lavish. Talking about a lifetime of hard work, consistency at the cost of public scrutiny, staggering amounts of money, adulation and fashion all at the same time!
All of that just for hitting a funny green ball across the net for a very long time!
I like tennis. :)
I hope my niece likes it too!
Having said that let me stop typing and cross my fingers for Roger Federer.