Two weeks from now, the best players in the tennis world—including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer—will be heading to the higher altitudes of Madrid, Spain to contest the fourth Masters 1000 event of the year. However, this year's tournament will be like no other they've competed in on clay.
As the years have gone by, tennis fans the world over have come to associate clay-court tennis with red courts and red-stained socks and the like, but not any more. This year's tournament in Madrid will be played on blue clay.
The organizers claim the surface will be no different from any of the clay courts we are accustomed to. The balls will not react any differently on this court than it would on others. In fact, the only thing changing is the color.
So why am I talking about it? Is it a problem? Well, the answer to these questions depends on your point of view.
From the tournament organizers' point of view, including this color scheme in the tournament's business model makes a lot of sense.
For one, the sponsors are appeased because the courts are the same color as their logo. For another, the long-term viability of the tournament is also secured—in the shaky economy of today, sponsors are getting harder to find. And thirdly, tennis as a sport outside the Grand Slams will continue to thrive.
However, from the players' point of view, this departure from the traditional red is seen as a bad move for the sport. Not all the players agree but the opposition is sizable.
The main cause for the concern is the precedent that such a move will inevitably set. Tennis has thus far managed to stay somewhat independent of big business in that it has been able to achieve commercial success while staying through to its traditions.
The other main cause for concern is the disregard for the players' views. The players fear that a day will come when sponsors—who do not truly have the best for tennis at heart—take power away from the them and control and possibly adulterate the sport and what it stands for. They fear that a day will come when tennis is orientated solely for the gain of the sponsors.
It is a long way down in Madrid, but will it be so for tennis? What is your point of view?
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