John McEnroe wants to get rid of umpires in professional tennis. "It would be 30 percent more interesting," McEnroe claimed in a pre-Wimbledon press conference. He can't be serious and it would be sad if McEnroe, who is lauded for speaking his mind, has lost his filter with this high-minded but silly idea.
Any sport might be more interesting without officials for a little while. Maybe driving a car would be "more interesting" without traffic lights too, but I think the "free-for-all" novelty would wear off very quickly.
I wonder how McEnroe would feel about ESPN paying him on the honor system with no contract for announcing? I bet the broadcasts would be at least 30 percent more interesting.
On a rational note, It brings up an interesting point that famed coach Robert Lansdorp has been making about how to shake things up and make tennis more popular. Coach Lansdorp wants the USTA to focus its junior tennis budget to providing significantly more umpires at junior tournaments. He thinks that excessive gamesmanship and cheating keeps many talented young players from embracing the sport.
Better officiating and no one to blame but yourself for a loss? That would make the sport more interesting!
Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve &Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.