Why Tennis Is the Greatest Sport of All
At the risk of alienating some of my regular readers, I am going to go out on a limb and take a humorous look at why tennis is the greatest sport on the planet.
Tennis vs. Soccer
Soccer (European football) is a great, fast-moving sport.
But there are too many players to follow.
A match has, on average, 22 players to follow before substitutes get involved. Tennis is awesome because it's Player A against Player B.
Two players play the FULL match. There is nowhere to hide. There are no teammates to pick up the slack if a player is having an off day.
In soccer, the ball speed could not exceed 40-50 miles per hour.
In tennis, the ball can be served at up to 155 (at least in Andy Roddick's case).
The umpire sits in a chair and is well-rested to observe any call. He does not run around with the players as the referees do in soccer.
The FIFA World Cup tournament comes around every four years. While tennis produces its four annual Grand Slam tournaments every year.
Tennis > Soccer
Tennis vs. Baseball
Baseball, like tennis, is a hitting sport.
Similarities show that both sports have unforced errors. In addition, like tennis, baseball uses a small ball that cruises at fast speeds with various spins.
Baseball is not an aesthetically-pleasing sport to watch. Not only do the uniforms accentuate slightly obese body shapes, but there is a whole lot of chewing, spitting, and grabbing of crotches.
This does not exist in tennis (Okay, Rafa does some sort of picking, but that is it).
Baseball has too many stops and starts. Often, fans fall asleep. Every seventh inning, there is a need to stretch.
The best baseball player produces a hit less than 40 percent of the time (at least since good old Ted). Such a percentage in tennis would find a player out of the professional circuit.
While on offense, almost the entire baseball team sits on the bench. While on defense, the team gets out there in the field and waits for hits.
In tennis, the two players are constantly playing offense and defense.
All tennis players have a forehand and a backhand. Very few of baseball batters are switch hitters.
Baseball is just a ruder sport. Where in tennis would you see Uncle Toni leap over the stands and bump stomachs with the chair umpire?
Would you ever see Uncle Toni and his team charge the field at Roger Federer because he hit Nadal with a tennis ball?
Tennis > Baseball
Tennis vs. Hockey
Hockey is an exciting sport played on ice at a very fast pace.
Both the tennis player and the hockey player must have the stamina to endure the grueling battles of the match.
From a sportscaster's point of view, tennis is so much easier to call. Only two names to remember and the stats are much easier to call up.
Much of hockey's artistry is clouded with players fighting, grabbing, clutching, checking, high-sticking, roughing, interfering, boarding, tripping...Did I mention fighting?
Since tennis is a non-contact sport, more of its artistry comes through. It is a chess match, whereas hockey more closely resembles a Godfather vendetta.
In hockey, the losers in the Stanley Cup Finals sit alone on their bench, dejected, while the winning team parades around with the cup—each player getting a turn to hold it high.
Tennis championships sees both finalists awarded something. The winner gets a cup while the runner-up usually gets a tray, while in the end both competitors get to have a speech.
Hockey is played almost three-quarters of the year with just one cup to win. While Tennis has a series of championships played around the world on a more regular basis.
Tennis > Hockey
Tennis vs. Boxing
Although a Nadal-Federer match could last well over four hours, chances are both players will wake up the next day with nothing more than a few sore muscles.
A boxer's career can be full of knockouts and TKOs that can cause brain damage.
Although Novak Djokovic sometimes aspires to look like a boxer (taking his shirt off) and Nadal moves around like Ali at the start of a match, the similarities end there.
Tennis is just a game.
Nothing says, "I want to seriously hurt you" like the sport of boxing.
Tennis > Boxing
Tennis vs. American Football
Another heavy contact sport, American football is well loved by the American public and an unshakable force in American pop culture.
Where do I start with football?
How about the name: "Football"?
They really use their hands a lot more than their feet.
What is the name of the often criticized, never-appreciated kicker? More often than not, it is some guy with an Eastern European name like Vukovic.
Maybe if Djokovic were not a tennis player, he would be a kicker for the New England Patriots.
It seems that America, known to be homophobic, really lets it all hang out in this sport.
I mean, you don't see this much butt-slapping in wrestling.
I find it nice that before the center snaps the ball to the quarterback, he allows the QB to warm his hands in a nice spot between the center's legs.
There are plenty of awkward fumbles that turn players into human bullfrogs.
Thanks, but I will follow the sun and the sport of tennis where even if you do not score, you still have "love."
Tennis > Football
Tennis vs. Cricket
When someone mentions cricket in Canada, we automatically look for the nearest noisy insect to kill.
I recognize nothing about this sport except that it is followed with a passion in Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, and virtually everywhere in the British Commonwealth (with the exception of Canada).
It is a curious mix of baseball, bowling, a shot-put contest, and fraternity guys ready to paddle any sophomore who gets in their way.
Add the fact that some of them have wicked gladiator-type masks on, and that is about all I know about cricket.
Since the game is utterly confusing for me to watch, I will just stick to tennis.
Tennis > Cricket
Tennis vs. Basketball
Basketball has a groove to it.
It also has style.
The sport has come a long way from the mechanical, white-man sport of the early fifties.
This sport has produced such legends as Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.
But the sport, much like baseball and American football, does not reach out beyond the United States.
Even the sport's idols do not translate into world phenomenons like Nadal and Federer.
Also, because the sport is confined to the United States, the fan base tends to be much more localized with each particular team.
Because tennis truly transcends nationality and culture, I pick it over basketball, although both sports have a stirring amount of excitement.
Tennis > Basketball
Tennis vs Mud Wrestling
OK, so maybe tennis does not win over every sport.
However...it does come close!
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer: At the moment, no rivalry has more passion, talent, and riveting magic.
So the gauntlet has been thrown down.
The lines have been drawn.
The challenge has been set, and the first salvo has been fired.
I say tennis is the best.
How will fans of each sport respond?