Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Leading the way?

I am perusing the USTA supplement that comes with my TENNIS magazine very month. It reports on the latest class of Hall of Fame inductees and offers this headline:
Sampras Leads Hall of Fame Inductees
This irks for a few reasons that stem from what "leads" really means in this context.
Remember, Pete Sampras and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario are both being inducted under the recent player category. Frequently the recent player inductee is the headliner--except maybe for the year when Bud Collins got inducted as a contributor (no offense to Hana Mandlikova.
I suppose Sampras may "lead" because he has more Grand Slam singles titles than Sanchez-Vicario. But they are actually tied for overall Grand Slam titles with 14 because Sanchez-Vicario has numerous doubles and mixed doubles titles.
Yes, in tennis we tend to privilege singles titles for some strange reason, as if it takes more fortitude to win a singles title. I think winning a doubles title is quite difficult because there are two people to a team. You have to be a good, smart tennis player and a good partner.
Of course "Sampras leads" may be a simple case of Americancentrism (with a healthy amount of sexism thrown in there too). This is the USTA magazine after all and the Spanish Sanchez-Vicario was known as a "clay courter" (despite her singles win at the US Open). And we wonder why ESPN only covers the Americans (while they still exist in the draw anyway) every year at Roland Garros.
Of course maybe it was just a matter of space. A few pages later, in an adverisement for the week of fesitivities at the Hall of Fame in Newport, RI the "headline" (it is an ad after all) reads "Sampras and Sanchez-Vicario Head Induction Class in 2007." Glad they got it right somewhere.


Diane said...

I saw that somewhere; I don't subscribe to the magazine, but I saw it. I wondered about space limitations, too, but I think it was probably more a case of two different writers, and one of them presumes that Sampras has to be more important.

Trying to be objective here, Sampras is considered one of the greatest players of all time, but hey--the Barcelona Bumblebee is in a class by herself. (I think Shahar Peer may be channeling her.)

Anonymous said...

Bud Collins the "headliner" in 1994? No offense to Bud, but Hana Mandlikova is better known around the world. And her records will be long remembered after she's gone. Just because the American media treated Hana, being from communist Czechoslovakia no doubt, so shabbily, does not take away from the fact that she was a legitimate tennis star anywhere else that she played.