The old saying goes ‘A bad workman blames his tools.’ In tennis, an epidemic of tool blaming has developed in the most childish of ways. It is now not unusual to see a player throwing or smashing their racquets on the ground to express frustration. Tennis authorities, who have investigated banning grunting from the game, have shown no interest in this far worse blight on their sport.
Think about it this way. On the one hand, you have players who make loud noises when they exert their bodies to play a shot. Given that some professional players hit almost every shot at faster than 100kmh, isn’t some grunting inevitable? Would you expect a fast bowler to be silent when releasing the ball, or a rugby player to make a small squeak when hitting a tackle? I highly doubt it.
On the other hand, you have players wantonly and deliberately destroying the tools of their trade. How many builders would throw a power tool off a roof? Imagine a taxi driver soiling their car every time they had to wait for a fare. These racquets aren’t cheap either, at the top level they can cost hundreds of dollars. It is unlikely to be the players who will pay though, as most have all of their gear provided by sponsors.
And here’s the rub. There are no consequences for tennis players to literally destroy professionally crafted, expensive and highly coveted pieces of equipment. I hate to make this argument, but what the hell sort of message does this send to children? How must a parent feel, when watching a professional smash their racket, knowing that there is a chance their kid will do the same next time they lose a set? Like I said earlier, these are expensive pieces of gear. Children emulating their role models will become very unaffordable very quickly.
It’s more than this though. There is just something so galling about watching a petulant millionaire throwing their toys around. The childishness and lack of self-control is amazing. Somehow this person is disciplined enough to train their entire lives, and yet they cannot control their emotions enough to not smash a racquet. A player who throws or breaks their racquet is not showing nearly enough respect to their gear or their sport.
So therefore, I would like to propose a law change in tennis. Not to outlaw throwing or smashing, no, that would be too easy. Instead, players should be forced to finish a game with the racquet they started with, no exceptions. A man like Marcos Baghdatis, famous for breaking racquets, would be free to continue his wasteful ways. However, he shouldn’t expect to win much if his most important piece of equipment is a twisted mess after a tantrum.