Game, set, kvetch: Tennis players are unhappy in Minneapolis because the Park Board has decreed that the tennis nets must come down.
You might understand this if there were a Black Death plague-a-rama that started at Wimbledon, but c’mon.
Tennis has a lot of social distancing built into it. If you’re closer than 6 feet, you’re whacking each other’s racquet. Some people who worry about tennis would probably be opposed to jousting. “They get too close!” Sure, but that’s just at the end, when the clashing and the stabbing and the grunting take place. For most of the match they’re more than 6 feet apart.
“Yes, but are they disinfecting the lances?”
Probably not. So, we’d better cancel LanceFest 2020. But tennis?
Objection: “People pick up the tennis balls. That could spread the infection.”
Granted. That’s probably why people don’t chew on the tennis balls before they serve, or pick up the green fuzzy spheres and rub them in their eyes. But what if each person had their own tennis balls and touched them only after dunking them in bleach after each point?
Problem solved! We’ve adapted to the new realities without a blanket ban. (By the way, are blankets banned in the park? Is there a blankety-blank-blank blanket ban, as well?)
Don’t want tennis players lugging around bottles of bleach? We could require the players to use gloves. They’re back in stock, it seems. At the grocery store the other day, there was a shelf of gloves, 50 to a box. It might even have been a BOGO promotion — buy 25 gloves, get 25 free!
There also was bathroom tissue, and the boxes of tissue you put in the bathroom that are not called bathroom tissue, and napkins, and paper towels. You couldn’t help but think: “If the good toilet paper has returned — not the one-ply stuff that doubles as fine-grit sandpaper, but the luxury brands made from free-range trees that haven’t been fed antibiotics — doesn’t it mean a corner has been turned, and hence the tennis nets should stay up?”
That’s just how we think now. “Hey, there’s some Purell! Maybe I can go to the dentist soon.” “Hey, there are tons of beans and rice on the shelf, maybe I can get a tattoo now.” “Uh-oh — news story about looming shortages of meat. No ground hog means six more weeks of masks.”
The last time my wife played tennis, she noted with dismay a gaggle of young women playing pickleball at the adjacent court. They had about six people on each team, and they all crowded the net. My wife, who has the capability of verbally decapitating marble statues, kindly told the girls that they weren’t helping and this was why the nets were coming down.
They laughed — “OK! Whatevs!” — and kept playing. When she recounted the exchange with rue and frustration, I nodded along like a good husband, because it seems to sum up a divide that has split the country. We have to solve this and come together before we can move on, because otherwise we’re just talking past each other. I mean, it seems like you’re on one side or the other, right? Me, I know what side I’m on.
It’s the group that says, “What the heck is pickleball?”