WTA Hopes to Drive Excessive Grunting from Tennis with Ridiculous Ploy

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterJune 27, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27:  Maria Sharapova of Russia serves the ball during her Ladies' singles second round match against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria on day three of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The WTA hopes to stave off something so sinister, it threatens to take over the entire sport: women grunting loudly. 

I know, and I thought golf was a little too stuffy. 

ESPN reported early Wednesday that WTA officials are ramping up their efforts to take "excessive grunting" out of the game, even working in tandem with Grand Slam tournaments and the International Tennis Federation.

In a statement, the women's professional tour says it is developing a "sport-wide plan" to keep future players from grunting by educating them and instituting rule changes.

The WTA had said in January it was looking at ways to deter players from grunting, noting then that "some fans find it bothersome."

Unfortunately, there were no concrete examples of what they plan to do. The WTA spokesman declined to lend any specifics to how they would monitor the action. 

ESPN does point to this USA Today report which issues a "Grunt-O-Meter" to aid in the eradication of women being boisterous. 

The reports alleges the following as solutions: 

• The development of a handheld device—a kind of Hawk-Eye for noise—for umpires to objectively measure on-court grunting levels.

• A new rule setting acceptable and non-acceptable noise levels based on acoustical data gathering and analysis.

• Education at large tennis academies, national development programs and at all levels of junior and lower-tier professional events.

Apparently, current stars would not be accountable to the rule changes, as this would be a slowly-phased plan. 

Am I the only one who sees something wrong here?

First comes the issue of what is an acceptable level of grunting in an major event. Are players going to be trained in how to grunt responsibly?

I know there has been quite the vocal out-pour from fans, and many find the incessant grunting of players like Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and others to be truly annoying. 

Here is a video of Maria Sharapova that would have some claim is highly annoying and taxing on the ears. I beg to differ. 

Maybe my ears have been placated by years of use, but this is just an athlete putting all she has into a shot. Far be for me to ask her to tone it down or be more demure. 

I would, however, ask those who frequent live matches to sound off as to whether this truly destroys the enjoyment of their taking in a match. 

I agree it's off-putting, but I have learned to deal with it, and it melts into the background of matches.

I don't think we should start changing how players deal with their sport emotionally just because it may be uncomfortable for the viewer. 

But this is coming from a fan who still believes the NBA's decision to hand out technical fouls for emotional shows of outrage toward officials is stupid. 

The USA Today report does note current players wouldn't have to change ingrained habits, but it would curb this behavior in the younger generation. 

My concern is where "too loud" and "excessive" come into play. 

While legends of the sport like Martina Navratilova love the idea of eliminating grunting, I fear it destroys an outlet for passion and emotion, not to mention a manner of breathing that has proved useful to some top-tier tennis stars. 

While some see the elimination of grunting as the right step to making tennis more pleasant, I see it as another way to water it down. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't like the incessant shouts, but I don't see the need to eliminate something that will be problematic to measure. 

Follow me on Twitter and because I said so. 


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