I realise that tennis is a niche sport that almost no one cares about except me.
And I realise that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are foreigners and the French Open is in France, so even fewer Americans care about these two playing playing each other in Paris.
But we oddballs who like tennis have been looking forward to tomorrow for more than two weeks.
Because tomorrow is the day that the two best tennis players in the world, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, will play each other at the French Open, which is one of the four most important tournaments of the year.
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There is a lot riding on the match.
Nadal has won 7 of the last 8 French Opens, but he missed most of last year with a knee injury. He looked sloppy and vulnerable in his early matches in Paris, and, in a refreshingly blunt self-assessment, announced that if he didn’t improve his game he would be spending the rest of the French Open fishing in Majorca.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is the best player in the world–better than Nadal on every surface but this one (clay). Djokovic has never won the French Open, however, and unless/until he does, he won’t have achieved true dominance. Djokovic is said to be desperate to win the French, and he has been obliterating his opponents for the past two weeks en route to tomorrow.
So this match is going to be epic.
But you won’t be able to watch it.
And neither will I.
My not being able to watch it will have nothing to do with not having access to a TV during work hours. I have access to many, many TVs during work hours. I work in a news room, so they just hang on the walls all around me, tuned to various channels. And thanks to this abundance of TVs, and my job as a news guy, I have been able to argue (weakly) that the reason the TV hanging directly in front of me is generally tuned to the French Open is because the French Open is news.
The reason neither I nor you will be able to watch the tennis match of the year is, as usual, the result of greed and money and the stranglehold of BIG TV.
It turns out that the rights to broadcast the French Open from 7am-11am ET tomorrow are owned not by ESPN, NBC, or some other widely available TV network. As Deadspin’s John Koblin reports, they’re owned by The Tennis Channel.
This fact, which neither you nor I should ever have to be aware of or care about, will prevent both of us from watching the match of the year tomorrow.
I pay extra to get the Tennis Channel at home (because I’m a freak), but we don’t get it in the office (because it would be a total waste of money).
So that means that we won’t be able to see the match in our office.
And, unless you have a TV in your office with the Tennis Channel on it, you won’t be able to see it, either.
And, no, the Tennis Channel won’t be streaming the match online or anything. Because that would allow people like you and me to watch it. And the Tennis Channel’s goal is apparently to prevent us from watching it–unless we shell out for the Tennis Channel wherever we happen to be.
(Given that I pay the Tennis Channel’s annoying fee at home, you would think they would at least be willing to stream it to me. But I gather they won’t. I suppose there’s a way I might be able to Sling it to myself, or authenticate myself as a Time Warner Cable subscriber on an iPad or something. But who has time to figure out that crap?)
In other words, I am once again reminded why I HATE Big TV.
I pay $165 a month to my cable company for my Internet access and hundreds of channels of TV programming that I NEVER WATCH except for live sports. And, yet, despite this–and despite my paying another $3.50 (?) a month to the Tennis Channel to be able to watch some matches and replays that no one but me cares about–I will be unable to watch the only match this year that I actually really want to watch.
Thanks, Tennis Channel.
Thanks, Big TV.
Love you guys. Rooting for ya.
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