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Is tennis the only sport where nationality takes a back seat – comparatively?

Posted by tennisplanet on October 23, 2010

It seems the individual talent, skill and demeanor of a player transcends national colors unless you are NOT from the big cat countries AND are from some ‘breaking in for the first time’ nations, don’t you think? Did anyone get that? No, you didn’t!!!!!!!

I mean Roddick is from the US and has his share of fans within the borders who root largely based on his nationality but most US tennis fans don’t give a rat’s ass where you are from as long as you able to deliver and perform. Of course, Federer and Nadal are extreme examples to insert here for obvious reasons but even with them the argument still holds its own despite the heavy bias.

Contrast that for players coming from forsaken countries like Serbia or Cyprus where the local country sees only their other player on the horizon worthy of their acclaim. Granted the media plays its own role to hype things up but all they are reaching are casual fans who are more likely to get caught up in that blizzard than the knowledgeable ones. Exhibit A with total shamelessness: Murray?

By and large, tennis players are themselves amazed on the width and variety of their fan base more so when the rooting countries have their own representative doing fairly well on his own.

Is that the reflection of certain characteristics specific to tennis fans like higher income / education / commonsense / impartiality bone / hunger for superlative showing……….. or are they just plain fed up with the system at home – from tennis to health care to jobs to Vaseline shortage……?


18 Responses to “Is tennis the only sport where nationality takes a back seat – comparatively?”

  1. Jenny said

    but most US tennis fans don’t give a rat’s ass where you are from as long as you able to deliver and perform.
    Most British fans I know feel the same and it isn’t just about winning, there’s a lot more to it than that. Neither are we influenced by politics or system, that would be daft, because we don’t have too much to moan about in the UK, nothing is perfect. I always support the British Olympic athletes and football clubs if they play a foreign team..

  2. sperry said

    The last paragraph is thought provoking… good job, TP. It honestly has never occurred to me to root for an American because of nationality…but, then, i don’t think much of this country. I fell in love with tennis during the Borg/McEnroe rivalry. To root for a spoiled rotten brat over a class act? ??? Uh… no. It has been said that there is a slight correlation between intelligence and the ability to broaden one’s perspective. (Root for a good person, say, rather than blindly “my country, right or wrong.”) Might tennis fans have a higher average IQ? What a bloody snobby thing to say…lol… (But check into a football chat room once and you’ll admit to the possibility. I promise.) Anyway… I’m not coming up with much. Curios what others think.

    • bunnee said

      “Might tennis fans have a higher average IQ? What a bloody snobby thing to say…lol…”

      Not so snobby if it’s rooted in some reality — & i suspect it might be!

      • Jenny said

        Sperry raises an interesting point and dare I say it, I do think there is some truth to the snob association in the UK. Eg Wimbledon and Queens have always been part of the traditional middle/upper class social scene here, even some of the comms past and present. I’m not criticising them because they certainly knew/know their stuff as far as tennis is concerned.

  3. Stella said

    perhaps because we are not really concerned with nationality it is a reason why so few of us ( and the media) even think of Davis or Fed Cup. All the stats are on Slams, year end No 1 etc etc

    • Jenny said

      I love DC because it usually provides great tennis, I also enjoy the smaller tourneys too. There’s no point rooting for GB at DC, their chances to shine seriously in the event are virtually zero, so I root for Spain and Argentina, I enjoy watching their players too.

  4. Bettyjane said

    “Is that the reflection of certain characteristics specific to tennis fans like higher income / education…”

    Sure seems to be true. Advertisers don’t try and hawk mutual fund advisers during baseball games.

    • D.S.G. said

      Good point, BJ…I have tested seeing which advertisers advertise for which sports:

      Nascar, American Football, Boxing generally advertise beer, debt management, lotteries, products to clean dirty things with, and have lots of semi-nude girls advertising their product.

    • sperry said

      There ya go. Advertisers, obnoxious as they are, don’t make a lot of financial blunders. Checking out who is sponsoring what is certainly a REALLY good indication of taste, and a good chance, of intelligence. Good thinking, Bettyjane

  5. xeres said

    I wonder how Muzz feels about how the kids at the ELTC are all about long long hair that Nadal used to flaunt with bandana and how whenever asked who they look upto
    they reply Rafael Nadal.
    I don’t remember where I picked up this bit of info..definitely from one of those commentators for sure.

    • Jenny said

      I think Murray is popular with the younger ones here, but so is Rafa! Rafa and Roger are both popular across the generations in the UK, Roddick too. When Rafa burst on the scene at Wimby with his long hair, bandana, pirates, sleeveless, noise, they loved him. Ferru received a standing ovation for his effort against the grass court specialist Mario Ancic some years ago. [one of the great matches, btw and played in near darkness on it’s completion]. I remember when Feli Lopez played our own Tim Henman years ago, [he beat Tim who had beaten Moya in the previous round] one sports journalist alluded to Feli’s ‘exotic looks’ as enthralling the ladies in the crowd and they wanted to see more of him! Poor old Tim pulled the short straw there.

      • Jenny said

        Just wanted to add, it’s very expensive to train kids here with good pro coaches, [absolutely essential for a talented kid] which also adds to the elitism. Most parents on an average income can’t afford it. Boys can kick a football around on any open space for nothing, even in the big cities where open spaces are at a premium, but we do have them. If they’re really good, show promise and commitment, the talent scouts from the professional footie clubs are ready and waiting to scoop them up and into the fold. Professional football clubs promote the game, not so sure if the LTA promote hard enough.

      • xeres said

        Hey Jenny thanks for the insight into the kids scenario out there.It sure is expensive for parents to afford not just in UK but everyewhere, when I was a kid and I I told dad I wanted to go play in a club he told me he couldn’t afford it but if I really wanted he could work extra hours and maybe weekends too.So I can imagine how expensive it must be these days.

        F’lo’s matches are a crowd puller at SW19.This year I remember them showing this bunch of old ladies glued to the those netlike barricades that the outer courts have :mrgreen: Lot of people who were on their way to the other courts got stuck there to see what the fuss was all about and then they saw Mr Adonis and many of the ladies didn’t leave 😀 I have noticed that Fena has a lot of crazy supporters at Wimbledon 🙂

      • Jenny said

        Very true about F-Lo and the ladies at Wimby, and he isn’t even in the top twenty! They were much like it when our Tim was playing Moya in the previous round. Fena is also very popular here, he always has been, so the British tennis watching public isn’t so staid and conservative as one might think. At the end of the day looks shouldn’t matter, but I’m afraid looks, charisma, demeanour do go a long way to filling seats, and icing on the cake if they swing a mean racquet, those crowds understand the game well.

      • Jenny said

        PS While Fena is indeed very popular here, he’s an attractive showman, imo he adds ‘colour’ to the courts. He also has his own loyal band of Chilean fans who tend to follow him around the globe whenever he plays with their usual chants of chi..chi..chi..le..le..le!

        Must check out to see how the man’s doing 🙂

  6. M said

    There’s a lot to it. I remember being torn at more than one Rafa-A-Rod Davis Cup match, lol.

    Because I admire Andy and am proud to have him represent my country on the world tennis stage (as well as Johnny I. and Sam Q.) — but you all know how I feel about Rafa.

    (And of course, I was *furious* when James Blake took Roger out of the race for Olympic gold in Beijing.)

    But you bring up an interesting point, TP, more than one, in fact — because just as I started thinking about regional rivalries in American basketball and baseball (New York/Boston, anybody? lol) and football, then I started thinking about the World Cup …

    … and I don’t know. Does it come down to tennis being a sport of individuals, so we’re more invested in an individual’s profile than a team’s?

    It depends, I guess. 🙂

  7. Growltiger said

    Interesting topic, TP.

    Americans tend to root for an underdog. I started rooting for Djokovic because I loved his ground strokes. Then I started listening to the commentators bash him (mostly McEnroe and Gilbert) and I became defensive of him (as the Fed. fans are of him). I also remember when the USA bombed the snot out of Serbia and none of the media worrying about “innocent civilians” as they’re worrying about now with Iraq and Afghanistan.

    I admire Federer’s beautiful game but again the underdog thing gets me by the throat. He gets great draws (playing the ball kids
    or no 300 deep into the tournament) so I started rooting for the ball kids. The commentators practically go into rapture over him, so that irks me, too. I still admire his game but I hate the hype.

    Murray is a surly, depressing player but I love how he retrieves everything and makes the other player miss. He has a great serve and drop shot. I like the UK, so I generally root for him unless he’s playing Djokovic which I’ve never seen.

    Nadal disappointed me when he accepted coaching. I’m ambivalent about him now.

    In short TP is right. I’m an American who never roots for Roddick (another spoiled brat who attacks the officials and acts bratty when he’s losing). I like Blake (a gentleman) but he’s on the way out. Like boxing and horse racing, Americans have too much to be hungry enough to put in the hard work it takes to be a tennis professional. They’re not hungry enough. Same with the Brits, Swedes and Germans. French and Spanish players seem to be the European exception along with the Eastern Europeans and lady Russians.

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