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July 14, 2016

McEnroe and ESPN – Is It a Conflict?

by Alexander Punj

The Wimbledon tennis Championship men’s finals happened – Milos Raonic vs Andy Murray. This match was well awaited since Raonic beat Roger Federer, the supposed greatest of all time, in the semifinals. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and David Cameron were some of the attendees sitting in the Royal Box, and royal it was.

roayl box wimbledon the guardian

Courtesy of The Guardian

This match was very important to the UK as reporters called Murray “the last hope for the UK.” While this isn’t true at all, people still rallied for Murray as he attempted to win his 2nd Wimbledon title. The citizens of the UK felt no pressure as Murray cruised to a straight sets win over Raonic, who seemed a little deflated, and there may be more than one reason why.

Many people believe that Raonic was flat because he played a 5-set epic match against Federer in the last round and was unable to must the same energy. This, to tennis fans and players, is believable. Pulling off two five set wins – even Federer claimed he couldn’t do it. Raonic is the first Canadian man to reach a Grand Slam final, and went out there with such dignity.

However, there is something else that has infuriated the public. People have been spinning the idea that John McEnroe, Raonic’s new coach, is to blame. Everybody who watched the final in America is shocked that McEnroe didn’t sit in the players box during the match, but was commenting for ESPN instead. During the semifinals, the BBC used McEnroe during Roanic’s match, stirring controversy in the UK. During the final, and even in the semifinal, people thought he was “overanalyzing” and that the gesture of him being there was “highly inappropriate.” The Wall Street Journal had to write an article defending ESPN’s choice just to calm down the rowdy critics. Tennis fans took to Twitter after the match, denouncing McEnroe, with one calling him “a disservice to the field of journalism.”

But is it an issue? I mean, sure, not being in the player’s box is a little rude to the player. But people make mistakes. ESPN defended the choice by claiming that the schedule for the commentators was constantly changing; the result of Raonic’s semifinal would determine whether McEnroe would participate. McEnroe was prepared to do either, and ESPN was ready to take advantage of his stellar analysis skills. McEnroe constantly overanalyzes matches and is distracting. That’s his classic nature. It seems as if people don’t want to hear what a coach has to say about their player. Patrick Mouratoglou, coach of Serena Williams, joined EuroSport and ESPN this year to offer pre and post match analyses of Williams’ matches from the coaching side. Despite being biased, he provides a unique perspective, something not possible from the regular team. 


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