Devil’s Advocate – 23rd January 2016

(Couldn’t find my Saturday sport section column on line via Fairfax sites,  so here it is.)


Mercurial Uzbek seeking powerhouse Spaniard

Tuning into the Australian Open in the early going, one quickly got the lay of the land thanks to Seven’s sturdy commentary team.

Viewers were immediately introduced to The Russian, The Spaniard, and The Frenchman. A recap of earlier results yielded the comparatively rare and exotic harvest of “The Uzbek”.

We were solemnly informed that “No Uruguayan has ever made it to the third round,” – a particularly valuable tennis insight. Of course, if one ever did, they would be hailed as The Uruguayan.

Additionally, there were players referred to as The Argentinean, and – perhaps owing to regrettable scheduling anomalies that can be addressed at some time in the future – The Other Argentinean.

(It’s apparently “Argentinean” again. It was for many years, in pre-metric days. Later, around the 1980s period archaeologists now classify as Hammer Time, it mysteriously mutated into “Argentine”. Still, who knows? Well, people from Argentina, presumably.)

Some players were exceptions to this strict policy of classification and nomenclature. Lleyton was Lleyton, naturally. There was Kyrgios and Thanassi, Roger (Federer, not Rasheed), Murray, Novak, and Nadal (briefly).

All Australians are exempt, of course. Well, except for Omar Jasika, who was referred to by name, but this was quickly augmented with an apparently vital explanation from the commentator that his parents had come from Bosnia. (He didn’t specify whether he meant that afternoon.)

It’s a peculiar policy when you think about it, which clearly nobody does, ever. This wouldn’t exactly fly in any other workplace.

Nobody would walk around the office introducing a new employee to his colleagues, The Indian, The Greek, The Yank, Dan from Accounts Receivable, The Iraqi, The Vietnamese, Naomi from Human Resources, The Turk, The Other Greek, and Tom who runs the footy tipping.

You’d be sacked about 30 seconds later.

Maybe tennis commentators could shoot for another impersonal and vaguely insulting form of address, not involving nationalities.

Why, just using Dick Tracy villain names alone would yield Prune Face, Oodles, Flat Top, The Brow, Shoulders, Shaky, Measles and Mumbles. They’d be more than halfway there.


2 thoughts on “Devil’s Advocate – 23rd January 2016

  1. Thanks, Leapster.

    “This wouldn’t exactly fly in any other workplace.”

    The same could be said about the workplace bullying that takes place during parliament question time.

    • Not exactly my side of the street, especially re writing columns for the paper, since well over 90% of my stuff appears in the Saturday and Sunday sport sections. Parliamentary privilege lets those within those hallowed walls say things that likely wouldn’t stand much of a examination in a regular court of law, and no doubt that also is true of what would be considered even vaguely acceptable in a conventional workplace. Its defenders would doubtless say it’s there for a reason. The answer may be somewhere in the vicinity of my vague suspicion that, for a long time, we should have been insisting on a significantly higher standard of behaviour – and representation, in the sense that they’re representing the interests, not to mention the government, of the Australian people. But, again, this is out of anything representing a field of expertise for me.

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