Blue: ATP world finals and public shaming


It has finally happened: I’ve made it to a tennis tournament.  We’re sitting in the 3rd to last row and I need glasses desperately, but we’re here all the same!

Attending a tennis tournament at the o2 centre is like going to an NBA game: there are fancy lights, popcorn for sale in the stands, deep-voiced and dramatic announcers, and cheesy sound effects.  The only difference?  The crowd.  Tennis crowds appear civilized on the surface, but when the time comes, they’re out for blood.

If a spectator produces even one decibel of sound or a small amount of illumination many players will refuse to serve, looking to Chair Umpire for support while the camera man hones in on the perpetrator, projecting the image on the big screen and thereby subjecting the poor fellow to public humiliation.  I mean, this crowd will hold back when it’s time to cheer for 40-Love, but when there’s an opportunity to publicly shame someone, they will let loose!

I used to think that the perpetrator (who shall hereby be referred to as “camera guy”) should know better.  I would assume the worst and conclude that camera guy deserves it.  But I realized at the last match a whole range of circumstances that could explain the “rude” behavior of camera guy.

  1.  It could be the person’s first match.  In fact, seeing the look on the guy’s face as the camera zoomed in on him…I think it might have been.  He was shocked and confused about what was happening.
  2. The person may not speak or read English well. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve made mistakes in foreign countries because I couldn’t read the signage or understand the person talking to me.
  3. They really just want that social media photo.  So even if 1 and 2 aren’t true, who cares?  Public shaming doesn’t work to change people’s behavior, it just breeds anger and hate.

This culture of public shaming is out of control, the most famous case being Justine Sacco.  Do you really think that “camera guy” is going to leave the match thinking, “I’ll never do that again.  Gee, I’m sure glad I see the error of my ways?”  Just like a child put in time out in the corner is not thinking about how to do better time, but instead bubbling up with anger and shame, so is camera guy.  Who knows what he’ll do next?  Lash out and someone who cuts him off?  Yell at an unsuspecting waiter?  Hate breeds hate, and booing at someone who just came to watch a tennis match is hateful.

It’s no better than a bunch of kids clapping loudly at a classmate who dropped his lunch tray in the middle of the cafeteria instead of offering to help him pick it up.  Grow up tennis fans.  I’m going to try and do the same.  The last thing we need are more bullies in this world right now.  Take it from Roger,

🌈 Steph




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