Sunday, July 25, 2021

Opinion: Hall of Fame commits double fault

   Since I'm apparently one of the few Americans who haven't guest-hosted "Jeopardy?," here goes:
   Me: "Start us off, Norman Knowitall."
   Norman: "I'll take Bogus International Tennis Hall of Famers for $1,000."
   Me: "These players have no business being inducted."
   Norman: "Who are Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martinez?"
   Me: "Correct!"
   Each of the newly enshrined — ahem — Hall of Famers won a grand total of one Grand Slam singles title and no major doubles crowns. "Immortals" Michael Chang, Yannick Noah and Manuel Orantes also won only one Slam in singles.
   This sad state of affairs is hardly surprising. Standards have fallen, if not disappeared, almost everywhere in society — in the United States, at least. It makes people happy. Meanwhile, institutions crumble.
   What's next? Inducting just a Grand Slam finalist? Semifinalist? 
   Can we agree that the definition of a Hall of Famer is "one of the greatest players ever"? Are you telling me that Ivanisevic, Martinez, Chang, Noah and Orantes belong in the same group as Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert? Yeah, right.
   News flash: Tennis greatness is measured in Grand Slam titles. Period. Everything else — Davis Cup/Fed Cup championships, Olympic medals, ATP/WTA titles, appearances in Grand Slam finals, weeks at No. 1 (zero for the Fab Five, by the way), first this or first that — is a bonus. Collecting a bunch of those but capturing just one Grand Slam title begs the question, if you're such a great player, why didn't you win more Slams?
   It's pretty simple, folks. One Grand Slam singles title makes you a one-hit wonder. Two major singles crowns make you one of the best players of your era. Three make you one of the best ever.
   Double those numbers for doubles, because each player is responsible for half of the team's success and the top singles players don't play.
   Combinations of major singles and doubles titles are allowed. Thus, one Grand Slam singles title and four major doubles crowns make you a Hall of Famer under this formula.
   Mixed doubles doesn't count because few play it. 
   A sport's history is sacred. Enshrining singles specialists with one Grand Slam title defaces tennis history.

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