WILTSE: Tennis anyone?

Aug 23, 2012

First, the things I like.

I like television because it keeps me sane in a world where I cannot do the things I like to do anymore because of my infirmities — mostly golf. It gives me something to do other than read or work crossword puzzles.

Now for the things I hate about television. Don’t worry, for I’m not going to write volumes, but I am going to expound on a newly discovered pet peeve that came about because of the recent coverage of the Olympics.

I must first explain that there are two sports that I really enjoy watching on TV. First, there is football. I enjoy watching football for all the wrong reasons, same as everybody else who enjoys it, namely for the smash-mouth violence of the sport. I also enjoy watching tennis on TV for much the opposite reason, namely its grace and athleticism. You never see fat tennis players as you sometimes see football players. Also, you rarely see tennis cramp up, which indicates a lack of physical training and lack of hydration as you sometime see football players do.

Unlike golf or even football, you cannot see all of the action, for it just doesn’t fit on the screen and it probably never will. As a consequence, you cannot see all the subtleties of the sport. But with tennis, you usually see almost all of the action.

But I digress and I’m straying from my point; i.e., my impatience with TV.

During the recent Olympics, I went almost a week without seeing any tennis on the Olympic scene. While wasting my time watching the air rifle competition and archery matches, I kept wondering why they weren’t showing any tennis.

Then, one day, I was reading a magazine on the Internet and I saw where Serena Williams was having a successful run at the Olympics. So I went to the Olympic website and discovered that tennis Olympics was exclusively being broadcast on Bravo, a most unlikely place. So, while I was wasting my time watching equestrian events and rifle shooting on NBC, I was missing some excellent tennis being broadcast on Bravo. I missed about half of it.

All the time, NBC kept the fact that tennis was on television a secret. While Matt Lauer was feigning excitement about table tennis or dressage, great tennis was being broadcast on a rival network, and NBC wasn’t about to inform their audience about one of their rivals broadcasting something that I found really exciting. I will never forgive NBC.

I wasn’t the only one who missed Olympic tennis either. During the first week of the Olympics, the golfer Rory McElroy had to fly to the U.S. to participate in a golf tournament. His girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, was playing in the Olympics. Rory e-mailed NBC asking where the tennis was on TV, for he wanted to see how Caroline was doing. Needless to say, he received no response from them for they didn’t want to mention a rival network, even to an individual.

TV listings are almost impossible to read. With the hundreds of stations available, the listings become so complex that they are a bit overwhelming. I don’t have an answer — well, actually I do, but they are too numerous to include here and they probably would be rejected by the TV stations anyway. It seems to me that the TV stations could come up with something that would be satisfactory to all their audiences.

In the meantime, there is little else to do but continue surfing the TV almost constantly. The main trouble with TV is that, with the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of TV stations currently available, there hardly ever is anything on TV.

— By Ralph Wiltse, Tribune community columnist

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