Sharapova Bucks ‘Anti-Grunting’ Rule, Reminds Us Being Good At Your Job Is Better Than Being ‘Ladylike’
10:49 am, June 29th | by Amy Tennery
As any career gal knows, the pressure to be “a lady” on the job can be, at times, immense. And that pressure also extends to female professional athletes. Consider that recent, idiotic debate over whether female Olympic-level boxers should be required to wear skirts. You thought that was silly? Well, brace yourself. The Women’s Tennis Association is launching an initiative this year to stop female tennis players from grunting. Yup.
“Citing increasing discontent from fans,” ESPN explained, “the WTA plans to launch an initiative… to teach young players breathing techniques to avoid grunting and to eventually adopt a rule against noises deemed to loud, with the help of a decibel meter.”
Reading this, it’s no wonder that Maria Sharapova today told reporters that she has no intention of trying to cut back on her grunts. This new regulation is patently dumb.
And while we’re on the subject, let me get this straight: Back in 2010, thousands upon thousands of World Cup attendees were permitted to blow on vuvuzelas nearly non-stop, by some estimates beginning at 6 am, emitting a sound so ear-piercingly loud that doctors warned the exposure to fans could cause hearing loss and players reported that they were unable to hear cues from their coaches and fellow teammates. But when a female professional athlete grunts during a tennis match that’s unacceptable. Got it. Thanks.
(I realize that soccer and tennis are different sports with different types of fans. But this is ridiculous. If you can sit and watch a soccer game with those suckers blasting, you can handle some grunting.)
Indeed, the audible expression of physical effort from a female athlete strikes a lot of people as “icky.” Consider an item from the Herald Sun this morning, titled “WTA Set To Finally Crack Down On Grunting In Women’s Tennis.” Finally. Is this a real complaint? Women making noise while they compete is something to which many people have actually given thought? Apparently. The Herald story continues:
The annoying, ear-splitting grunting of women’s tennis players could soon be a thing of the past as the Women’s Tennis Association finally cracks down on a practice bemoaned by player and fans alike.
Our long national nightmare is finally over. “Annoying” and “ear-splitting” sounds have no place in spor–
Oh wait. Nevermind.
I kid, of course. And I’m sure vuvuzelas are quite lovely when played at around the same decibel as, oh I dunno, a woman’s grunt in tennis?
Maybe grunting in tennis helps — maybe it doesn’t. (I wouldn’t know, although there are plenty of tennis pros who will tell you it’s a completely natural occurrence.) But even if it is all theatrical, since when are professional sports associations in the business of banning theatrical behaviors across the board? I might think Tebow-ing is annoying, flopping in basketball is absurd and baseball’s at-bat walk-up music is (occasionally) a little embarrassing. But all three of those things make the sports fun to watch. Why would we ban the pageantry? (Unless you’re uncomfortable with women’s “carnal” noises — which as Double XX so rightly pointed out is probably the real reason behind this silly ban.)
On the tennis court — as in the the boardroom — the pressure to be “the consummate lady” often undermines why you’re there in the first place. So you’re a tennis player. That’s your job. Act like a tennis player. Grunt.