If you could have a top 5 ranking of the most dull, boring, unimaginative tv tennis pundits around, you’d be hard pressed to knock Pat Cash or John Lloyd off the top spot. Sky TV’s Barry Cowans would certainly give those two a run for their money, as would Virginia Wade and Eurosport’s Tennis presenter, Rob Curling. And, with Jo Durie begging to be let into the inner sanctum of the Top 5, the bore fraternity couldn’t be stronger.
And interestingly, coincidence or not, the ‘bore’ gene seems to run deep into their personalities and, their appearance.
Now think about this; you’ve some of the greatest players ever to have played the game (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, with Andy Murray knocking on the door) the crème de la crème, the Rolls Royce of the men’s tennis elite, fighting it out for top honours in a Grand Slam Final, and, to grace the occasion, instead of matching the event with scintillating commentary, insights, aliveness and excitement from say, John McEnroe, Boris Becker or Goran Ivanisevic, we’re treated to a bland demonstration of non-inventiveness by way of poor word choices, lacklustre emotions, strategic tennis insensibility from the top 5 ranking TV Tennis bores.
I don’t know about you but comments and insights like… “oh, he’s proved he’s human after all”… “I’m lost for words”… “I’m disappointed in his attitude”… “Oh, what a shot”… isn’t at all that motivating. Frankly, you don’t need to be a ‘name’ to utter such obviousness.
For me, their insights and comments are rarely energising. None of it makes me want to pick up a racket and take the sport up because of what they say. They haven’t worked hard enough to link and bridge what we’re watching, to then have me be inspired to be better than I currently am. Not much at all of what they say enhances my enjoyment and excitement. In fact, it reduces it. It curtails it. It shows me these people are inarticulate at best, advertising and demonstrating to the viewing public that they haven’t improved their worth in the TV and commentary arena.
Now of course, some may say that you don’t need commentary, you don’t need anyone else to describe to you what you’re already watching. For some, that’s true. They won’t need another voice to help them enjoy what they’re enjoying. But let me say this; can you truly understand and comprehend the magnificence like The Palace of Versailles without those headsets giving you information and insight to everything you’re gazing at?
Commentators and pundits have a responsibility to enhance and build the value of the tennis match for the viewing public through incisive questioning, detailed analytical reporting, insightful articulation. And so because of that, they too should be unmercilessly judged on their performance, their entertainment value, their engagement with the viewing audience.
Why indeed should they receive a lump of money just for turning up and for churning out boring, self-absorbed drivel? (They probably fist pump in front of the mirror, delighted they’ve not been snuffed out before they've had their contract renewed… again!)
Why shouldn’t they not be criticised and poked at, just like they do to current players on their performances? Why should their performances be tolerated and be excused? If they were measured on a pay-for-performance basis, they’d be out on the street, searching for gullible TV channels to hire them for who they are, and not for what they bring in terms of value.
I think we all want our tennis watching experience to be just like watching a thrilling, captivating movie. We want to be moved, struck, inspired, taken on the ride of our lives. We want to be fired up inside, to take on the world in whatever we want to do.
The tennis players are certainly doing their part to make that happen – just watch the recent Australian Open Final between Djokovic and Murray for verification. In fact, dig into all the men’s and women’s Australian Open quarter finals and you’ll find that to be true – however, the supporting cast, the bland, voice-over-operators, well… they’re drunk on their own dry, dull blandness, utterly believing their contribution is what the TV tennis world wants to hear. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Out with the TV Tennis pundit bores, in with the entertainers who motivate and inspire!