It’s hard to think of an Australian sports event that gets wider international coverage than the Australian Open tennis. You only need to spend half an hour listening to AO Radio to realise that. They’re hearing from listeners around the globe.
The Boxing Day Test might come close, i suppose, but that’s only because two-thirds of India are betting on every ball.
Otherwise it’s hard to think of any others with such a broad appeal worldwide.
It would be great if Seven could show some real commitment and sophistication in their coverage.
Let’s start, for instance, with their attitude to women.
As far as I can work out there are only three women involved in Seven’s commentary team. Rennae Stubbs is courtside and post-match interviews. But only on women’s games. Brit Sam Smith is in the box, but only for women’s games. And only as a sidekick to Todd Woodbridge or Hamish McLachlan.
And what’s with the Brit? Are there no competent Australians around? No doubt Liz Smylie and her cohorts are off earning real money with the American networks. UPDATE: Liz Smylie is earning very few bucks, I suspect, with ABC Grandstand.
And there’s Johanna Griggs who has been doing the voiceovers, mostly saying “not too far away”. Until last night she’s been heard and not seen, which is a shame as she’s a proven on-camera talent and makes a nice change from Bruce McAvaney’s increasingly quirky presence. Special.
Seven, if a woman can umpire a men’s match on centre court in a Grand Slam event, why can’t a woman commentate on it? It’s the same sport, just with uglier outfits and bigger serves. C’mon.
It’s not just the commentary box team that is telling, however. Look at the big guns commentating on the men’s matches for Seven. McAvaney, Fitzgerald, Roger Rasheed, Newcombe and of course, the big money, Jim Courier. Where’s the big spend on the women’s team, Seven? Where’s Evert or Navratilova, or Shriver, or Austin or Smylie or whoever?
Jim Courier stepped on court for a women’s match last night. Of course it was only to tell us that we only had to sit through one more set of women’s tennis before the real stuff started with the upcoming men’s match.
Seven brings in the execrable Henri Leconte every time a French player steps on court. Oh, wait. Every time a French man steps on court. Alize Cornet is going around against Sharapova this morning without the benefit of Leconte’s buffoonery. Actually, thanks for that.
Then there’s Seven’s scheduling. Yesterday, for example, there were three seeded women playing, including the fourth seed and HUGELY popular Li Na, in a cracking three-setter, but Seven chose to focus on a men’s doubles match featuring two young Aussies Kyrgios and Kokkinakis, It wasn’t until there was a delay in that match that they switched to Li Na.
There’s interest in Australian players and then there’s stubborn parochialism that sacrifices good tennis for the sake of a bit of pointless flag-waving. We missed Azarenka the other night, because you thought we wanted to watch Gael Monfils (+ Leconte) and some young American neville called Sock. Earlier in the week we got to watch Aussie neville Josh Thompson while the defending champion Novak Djokovic was going around on another court.
It’s not good enough, Seven. It’s not good enough from a tennis fan’s point of view. It’s not good enough from a woman’s point of view.
Wake up and smell the 21st century, FFS.