“Serena Williams has part of it right. There is a huge double standard for women when it comes to how bad behavior is punished — and not just in tennis.
But in her protests against an umpire during the United States Open final on Saturday, she also got part of it wrong. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to apply a standard of “If men can get away with it, women should be able to, too.” Rather, I think the question we have to ask ourselves is this: What is the right way to behave to honor our sport and to respect our opponents?”
David Lindsay’s Tennis handicap called Uncle Bob and Moral Hazard
The Uncle Bob Handicap, is named after my Uncle Bob Foote, who placed tennis till he was 91. You must hit the ball so that the weaker player can reach the ball. If the weaker player cannot reach the ball, it is their point. Every shot must be in their reach.
Last week, I wanted to say to my formidable opponent Bob Migliorini, It is true that I lacked incentive to run for a shot, when I didn’t reach it, it became my point. That is a flaw in the handicap, which involves moral hazard.
The interesting question, is did I use the right term, though I couldn’t remember it when we last played.
Wikipedia: “Economist Paul Krugman described moral hazard as “any situation in which one person makes the decision about how much risk to take, while someone else bears the cost if things go badly.” Financial bailouts of lending institutions by governments, central banks or other institutions can encourage risky lending in the future if those that take the risks come to believe that they will not have to carry the full burden of potential losses. Lending institutions need to take risks by making loans, and usually the most risky loans have the potential for making the highest return.
It would have been clear to say that I had a conflict of interest. Moral Hazard describes my conflict in the handicap, in that I decide how hard to try to reach a ball, and the opponent bears the costs of my choosing not to push myself. The Uncle Bob handicap is a good handicap, but it does expose the stronger player of the moral hazard of the weaker player gaming the system, not trying for the shots just out of initial reach.
“Seeing Federer hit a two-hander makes you feel like a witness to a double felony, a crime against both art and nature. Federer, Nadal, Murray and Novak Djokovic have dominated the second week of majors for a decade, but only Federer seems to take consistent and obvious pleasure in what he is doing on the court. In part that may come from Federer’s not having grown up subjected to the same preadolescent all-or-nothing pressure of his major peers. While Djokovic’s parents gambled what little they had on their oldest son’s tennis future, and while Murray’s mother, Judy, and the Nadals turned tennis into wildly ambitious family quests that made it far more than just a game, Federer’s parents were worried less about their son’s groundstrokes than about his need for a viable route to the middle class. Nevertheless, it’s no coincidence that Federer is the only one of them with a one-hander. Two-handers are easier to hit, especially for youngsters, and dependable as diesel engines. But anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that one-handers bring more joy to a player, if only because they are beautiful, and to hit them well, you have to let them go.
Pete Sampras, whose record seven Wimbledon titles was broken by Federer in July, once told me that when he went from a two-handed to a one-handed backhand, he was transformed from a grinder to a shot maker, and the game became immensely more enjoyable for him. The only top male player who ever hit a two-hander with abandon is Jimmy Connors (and those were hit in anger). But even if the correlation between happiness and a one-handed backhand is impossible to prove, watching Federer practice and make up shots on the fly clearly shows what sort of hand-eye skills and personality are required if, at age 35, you’re going to teach yourself a devastating new backhand.”