Hear them roar

The U.S. Open is here and you know what that means…time for everyone to bitch and moan about grunting female tennis players!

Just three months ago at Wimbledon, Ian Ritchie, chief executive of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club, fanned the flames with his assertion that women emitting anything louder than a breathy, Marilyn Monroe-esque “Match point!” is annoying for opponents and fans. Ritchie was no doubt referring to famed grunters like Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, whose yelps have been measured at 95 decibels, or Maria Sharapova, who hit 105 on the sound monitor in 2009 – on par with a police siren or roaring lion. (Hear Sharapova here.) Venus Williams has caught flak for rumblings, as has Monica Seles, widely regarded as the original female grunter.

Question: How, exactly, does one send a tennis ball rocketing through the air at a speed of 121mph without grunting?

Whether you play tennis, lift weights, run track, throw discus, pole-vault, or kick ass in martial arts, chances are you’ve made noise while doing so. The air has to be released from your lungs somehow, and when you’re recruiting every muscle in your body, calling on every little fast-twitch fiber, chances are it’s not going to be a quiet process. It’s not like Sharapova is barking on purpose – it’s an instinct, a natural process. And it clearly serves a purpose: Seles attempted to silence herself in her 1992 final with Stefi Graf under threat of a fine…and was trounced. She lost her power when she lost her voice – and a 2010 study co-authored by University of British Columbia and University of Hawaii suggests she might have given Graf an advantage: Grunting affects shot perception, throwing one’s opponent off track.

To the members of the Groan Patrol, I say this: It doesn’t matter if a player’s grunting annoys you. To be totally honest, it kind of annoys me, too. So what? A lot of things about men’s sports annoy me. Like the Packers’ Clay Matthews – I hate how his long hair sticks out from under his helmet, all sweaty and matted against his neck. It makes me think of rubbing Vaseline all over myself and then slipping on a fleece bathrobe. Ick. Oh, and those ridiculous first down marker that football refs use to measure yardage – they seem like inept little Keystone Cops, running around with these oversized orange sticks. Hello? We have modern technology, like lasers, that could verify a first down in milliseconds.

For those truly sensitive-eared folks, the BBC has a free app – Wimbledon NetMix – which allows viewers to tune down grunting while turning up the volume of the commentators. For the rest of the complainers, I have two words for you: Hit mute. On your TVs and on yourselves.

 

 

 

 

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6 Responses to Hear them roar

  1. Alyssa says:

    Amen!!!!!!
    Jimmy Connors grunted EVERY TIME he hit the ball. Did anyone complain? No! They only complain when women do it (of course)!!!!! Just today I was encouraging my Pilates client to vocalize on her exhales. It really does help with the movement. We had upped the resistance on the reformer and she was having some trouble. But guess what! As soon as she started exhaling loudly she was able to complete the exercises.
    I was once told by a martial arts instructor that the Kiai (the cry made during an exhale) is really important: it’s not only a battle cry, it forces your stomach muscles to contract, thereby protecting your organs should you get hit. So there’s a purpose to it all!

  2. SO true! Everyone is bitching about it (my husband was making the same comments as we were watching the matches a few days ago) – get over it people! These women are amazing, grunting and all :)
    Elina (Healthy and Sane) recently posted..Diet free living: another lesson learned

  3. bdaiss says:

    Can we add Pittsburgh Steeler’s Troy Palomalo (no, I have no idea how to spell that) and his hair (and Head & Shoulders commercials) to that list as well? : )

    Funny how the menfolk complain women’s sports are not “as exciting” or “as athletic” as men’s. And then when women do reach the pinnacle they complain about them not being “ladylike”. You can’t have it both ways.
    bdaiss recently posted..Fruitful

  4. Britt, you and I are two peas in a pod. Troy’s hair bugs the hell outta me, too.
    Leslie Goldman recently posted..The Secret Habits of Health Experts

  5. JavaChick says:

    I thought of this post on Saturday as I was grunting my way through reps during my circuit workout. It’s called working hard. I think women aren’t supposed to do that in sports? We’re just supposed to be cooking and cleaning? I dunno….
    JavaChick recently posted..September–Week One

  6. Java, we are supposed to lift weights daintily, yet workout hard enough to have a perfect, killer body. THEN we go home and cook and clean, preferably in a sexy French Maid costume. Duh. Didn’t you get the owner’s manual?
    Leslie Goldman recently posted..Oh No, I Did Not Just Meet Apolo Anton Ohno!

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