Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Stop Injury Time Gamesmanship in Tennis

Last week I put up a post about the notion of "cheating within the rules" motivated by Victoria Azarenka's, ahem, tactical use of an injury timeout to alleviate a constricting feeling around her neck. I was actually more sympathetic than most, and argued that while she may have violated norms of sportsmanship in now way did she cheat.

I argued that If the tennis community feels strongly enough, then it can engage the constitutive decision process to change the rules to address violations of what are today held as norms. Today The Economist proposed an entirely sensible approach to such a rule:
Perhaps the most effective solution would be a point-docking system. If players forfeited just a single point per timeout, that would probably eliminate the temptation to cheat the system, since in tight matches, each point is immensely valuable. The ability to remain fit throughout a match is as just much a skill as having a good backhand. Playing poorly loses you points—so why shouldn’t, in a modest way, getting injured?
Players could have as much access to trainers as they want during normal breaks in play. Should they need additional treatment, they could be charged 1 point for the first 3 minutes (or whatever deemed appropriate) and then 1 point per minute thereafter. As I read somewhere this week, the marathon doesn't have injury timeouts, and tennis is a marathon. Simple, unambiguous, fair.


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