Ever since this year's Wimbledon, I've been following men's professional tennis pretty closely. Today, I was excited to discover that Rafael Nadal would be playing Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Cincinnati Masters. Yes, Nadal, who recently defeated five-time defending champion Roger Federer in an epic five-set Wimbledon final and who will become the number one player in the world in the upcoming weeks, against Djokovic, the world's third ranked player and Australian Open champion. Surely a match of this caliber comes around only once every month or so and deserves to be shown on network TV, yes?
Scouring today's TV sports listings, I discovered that the match would indeed be televised live at 9 PM...on ESPN2. Balls. I do not receive ESPN2. Granted, it is rare that one of the major networks would telesive a tennis match in primetime...but Saturday isn't much of a TV night anyway, and the programs that are airing at that time on the networks are less-than stellar:
TV listings for 9 PM, Saturday 8/02/08
ABC: Wipeout (Repeat)
CBS: Flashpoint (Repeat)
FOX: America's Most Wanted (New)
NBC (this one kills me): WWE Saturday Night Main Event (New)
Professional wrestling?! Incredible. And if that isn't enough of a travesty, NBC is airing at 2 PM today a horse race called "the Hambletonian." What, you ask, is the Hambletonian? Here's what Wikipedia has to say:
"The Hambletonian is a United States harness racing event held annually for three-year-old trotting standardbreds. The race is named for the famous trotting horse, Hambletonian 10 (1849-1876), from whose four sons, the lineage of virtually all American standardbred race horses can be traced. It is the most coveted North American race for trotters; among races for pacers, only the Little Brown Jug is as prestigious.
"The Hambletonian is the first, and most prestigious event in the United States Trotting Triple Crown races."
Confused, I turned to the official Hambletonian website, where a picture told me all I needed to know:
Evidently, NBC Sports considers both a bizarre, Ancient Rome-style chariot race and this:
worth airing, but not the semifinals of an American tennis tournament featuring nine of the world's top ten players.
Some might argue that tennis doesn't have much appeal in America. If that were true, then why would the Federer-Nadal Wimbledon final have made the cover of a recent Sports Illustrated, where it was labeled the greatest tennis match ever played?