“dangerous” to whom?

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Is it just me, or is anyone else getting a little sick of hearing commentators use the word “dangerous”? As in: “This guy is a really dangerous player,” or “She’s a really dangerous floater in the draw.”

Here’s my beef: clearly “dangerous” is a subtext for “this player could wipe out a seed,” and that could be disastrous. Why? Well, it would mean there’s one less popular player in the draw; and the following round’s match-up might not have the same buzz (Masha vs. Peer sounds better than Radwanska vs. Peer, right?), which would adversely affect ratings. That, in turn, could lead to losing ad revenue and even whole accounts, which could lead to admen/women losing out on performance bonuses.

So let’s just agree that when a commentator calls someone a “dangerous” player, they’re just saying that some ad wonk won’t be getting a flat screen upgrade if said player wins.

Michael Shaw is currently following the Open from his couch on the West Coast.

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2 Responses to ““dangerous” to whom?”

  1. Jon Says:

    Conversely, some may find the upstart’s play captivating and want to stay tuned for what s/he does next. If someone uproots two or three seeds in a major tourney, that player becomes the next Big Deal (see: Bartoli, who hasn’t been the same since the novelty/hype hit).

    But really, it’s a silly descriptor. It’s a Grand Slam event. From the third round on, shouldn’t almost everyone be considered “dangerous”?

  2. Joshua Says:

    The word dangerous in this context isn’t necessarily meant negatively, particularly as regards floaters. A truly dangerous player is typically unseeded and yet known to be capable of serious tennis. Serena Williams unseeded in Melbourne is, therefore, very dangerous because she’s going to make SOME seed’s life rather hairy before the third round. The same goes this year for probably the most dangerous unseeded mens’ player — Radek Stepanek. He’s a former top tenner returning to form and having a great year, but at #35 or 36 in the world, he’s not a seed and guess what — he almost wiped Djokovic out in the second round!

    Is the word overused? Probably. But the danger posed to seeds (and this comes from an inveterate opponent of almost all the ways the majors conspire to make Roger Federer’s life easier — the only thing they could do that would make him happier would be to bring back the old challenge round system so he only has to play one match!) long predates advertising in tennis (or even professionalism in tennis!) and there are good reasons why tennis fans typically like to see seeds move forward. Take Radwanska. She topples Sharapova and then gets wiped off the face of the Earth by Peer in the next round. Seedings are intended to keep things like that from happening and to ensure top level tennis through the final.

    Still, the word dangerous is only meant to connote a danger to other players, not to advertisers or fans. It’s also a way of making an otherwise dull match seem interesting by having John McEnroe lead viewers to believe that perhaps John Isner will actually beat Roger Federer.

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