Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not Just A Tennis Lesson

There is something about the civility of a tennis match that always leaves me in awe. Yes, we know that by tennis  standards the New York crowd is considered a bit louder than most, even the fans who are just visiting. But every time I am lucky enough to visit the US Open Tennis Center in Flushing I continue to be amazed by the quiet that descends on the  stadium  as all eyes are fixed on the player serving. The sound of "ssh" until there is such an absence of noise that  I am  convinced you could  hear a pin drop.

I reveled in that Monday. I got lucky.  Through the graciousness and generosity of two dear friends I was offered a ticket to the US Open Men's tennis final.  As if that wasn't enough good fortune for one day, the gift of the rain delay was that we were able to sneak down to the lower levels and view the end of the match courtside.

It was hard not to be astounded by the 23,000 plus in attendance and how amenable and polite everyone was, even with the rain. Whether you were cheering for Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic you clapped when you witnessed a great shot. There were no boos to be heard anywhere. Spectators smiled at each other even from opposing sides of the fence.

I wondered, why is it so hard for us to act like this in our every day lives? In this crazy world we live in everyone is always "slamming" each other, whether it is a Democrat and Republican or business in competition with each other.  So few seem to concentrate on playing their best game to their strengths.  Instead they resort to verbal attacks, often unfounded and frequently taken out of context. It gets so noisy that I am thinking these political and business players are unable to hear themselves think. Which may be the reason so many of them say such ridiculous things and forget about concentrating on doing good work.

Rafael and Novak had the luxury of the quiet they demand.  They didn't have to listen to endless commentary about what they were doing right or wrong and the predictions on the outcome. They didn't have to waste time defending their actions and literally take their eye off the ball.  In the absence of noise, they could focus on doing their job, playing tennis as if their life depended on it and trusting that even if they lost, they had played well and lost to an opponent they admired and respected.

At the awards ceremony Monday evening as each player was presented his trophy they acknowledged the other for a match well played.  They exhibited something rarely seen these days.
Humility. Respect. Civility. Manners.

There is a lot more to learn watching professional tennis than just how to hit the ball.

What do you think?
Is there too much noise out there?
Are you tired of hearing people being 'slammed'?
Do you think we can learn a lesson from professional tennis?


slfnyc said...

so true!
another reason it's my favorite place to be. thank you for articulating it so perfectly.
at one point i turned to my left and speculated how long it will be before tennis (and golf) become like other sports where constant noise is accepted, at least in this country.
here's hoping things move in your direction instead.

Tracy @ The Chameleon's Backbone said...

Seeing a professional tennis match final is on my life's to-do list. You were indeed lucky!

One of my favoirte books is Open. If what Andre says is true, the slamming in tennis occurs in the locker room, not on the court. Even so, it's very nice to see public displays of civility. The world could use a little more.

Unknown said...

I have not read his book yet. Thanks for the insight.

Unknown said...

Yes, there is something magical about the quiet and civility demanded on the tennis court - not seen in many other places. I hope it continues!