Does anyone else feel shut out of tennis’ most nationalistic event?
I’m no expert on Portland, but I’ve read, and heard, that it’s a great place to live: beautiful surroundings; un-congested and easily commutable; and a down-to-earth and eco-conscious vibe. But it doesn’t come cheap. And the job market is apparently quite small and cramped.
If you were to read economist-cum-socialist Michael D. Yates‘ account of Portland in his recent travel memoir, Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate, you would likely be discouraged from moving to Portland without a good job in hand. Particularly challenging, says Yates, is the world of high-end restaurant work, in which talented workers were making $7 an hour in ’04, and where it “wasn’t uncommon for restaurants to replace sous chefs when their pay got into the upper $20,000s.” (Read more on a Portland from an excerpt on Yates’ blog).
It’s not surprising, nor inappropriate, in this light, that the U.S. is hosting this weekend’s Davis Cup tie final in Portland. Three-day passes ranged from $90-$600 in price, so the event will be filled with wealthy locals, even wealthier out-of-towners jetting in on “tennis tours,” plus a couple dozen nouveau riche Russians who are even wealthier still.
Isn’t it at least somewhat ironic, in a country where tennis has gradually, in fits and starts, become less of an elitist sport, that when it comes to its nationalist forum — the Davis Cup — its spectators will be made up mostly of retired and semi-retired WASPs (Patrick McEnroe, who’s Irish Catholic, excepted)?
When it comes to media coverage, meanwhile, tennis is clearly on the downswing: Not only is ESPN — in the past a standby for U.S. Davis Cup action — out of the picture, even Tennis Channel has been relegated to carrying the Tie only in its delayed form. To watch it live, you’ll have to have a thick cable/dish package that contains the scrappy little sports channel known as VERSUS, which would require an additional order to my current dish package.
I guess this fine little bottleneck for us devoted fans is due to the “waning interest in tennis for many Americans” that NPR’s Tom Goldman cites on today’s Morning Edition. Okay, American media conglomerate, I’ll take your hint. I’ve had my fill for now, and I’m fine with resting up for a good six weeks until the Aussie Open gets going, anyway.
As far as the Tie itself, thanks to the doubles lineup, you have to give the Americans the edge. As much as I respect Blake and would feel bad if he takes another tough Tie loss, Youzhny is my favorite player, and has a lot of Cup confidence, so sorry James, but you’re going down.
Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times, and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here. And TSF’s Davis Cup coverage is here.