SBD/August 19, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Tennis Players Voice Support For Allowing Crowd Noise During Tournaments

Proposals include allowing fans to talk during play and move about the stands
Muting tennis spectators "has been one of the most revered rules in sports, but many top players say they would be ready for a new sound," according to Ben Rothenberg of the N.Y. TIMES. Novak Djokovic "recognizes the assets other sports have for fan engagement." He said, "When I’m watching other sports I see, for example, in NBA, how it works, and how entertaining it is for the crowd to see big screens and always something happening in the timeouts when they’re not playing." Andy Murray added, "It’s just when it’s very quiet and then someone makes a noise, or when everyone is sitting down and someone stands up behind the court, then it’s off-putting. But if people were moving around all of the time and always making noise, then the players would adjust." Still, Murray acknowledged that there are "limits to what noise would be tolerable because tennis players need to be able to hear." Doubles player Bob Bryan said that discussions on how to increase crowds for doubles matches "had included proposals allowing fans to talk during play and to enter, exit and move about the stands freely." But Djokovic "drew a line at significant amplification during points." He said, "We can’t go that far, in terms of interaction during the play. But in the changeovers, between the sets, why not? I think the show is something that is also part of the sport, and something that attracts more attention from the crowd, and attracts more people, so I think it’s a win-win situation in a way." Djokovic "commended the efforts" of U.S. Open organizers to "keep crowds entertained with music and fan games during breaks in play." Meanwhile, Ernests Gulbis said that tennis "should be appreciated for what it is, and that those seeking other forms of entertainment could find it elsewhere" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/19).
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