Dropping monsters in mixed doubles?

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
there is an obligation to treat all opponents equally as it pertains to the issue here.
No there is not. Obligations are created by written, codified rules by an authority with the due power to do so. Obligations may also be created by individuals making explicit agreements. Unless you can show me the written rule or my explicit agreement, I am under no obligation to treat all opponents equally on the tennis court.

Feminazis on internet forums do not create obligations by fiat, mo matter how much they wish it to be true.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Mercy is never sexist. I may choose to have mercy on a woman in a case where I may not choose to have mercy on a man.
You lost me. Your first sentence is "mercy != sexist" but then your second sentence isn't about mercy itself but your decision on how to apply it. That seems like comparing apples and oranges.

Failing to execute perfect equality is only sexist in cases where a particular response is an obligation. By definition, mercy is a free choice rather than an obligation, so the uneven application of mercy is not sexist.
I don't think I agree with your reasoning that any result of free choice can't be sexist. I don't know that they are related. If I choose to ease up on my serve solely because my opponent is a woman, not taking any other factor into account [like, say, whether she can handle it], that seems to fit the definition of sexist to a "T" [treating people differently solely on the basis of gender].

I am more likely to give money to a homeless woman that a homeless man. That isn't sexist either.
It depends on your reasoning: if you're doing it only because the person is a woman, that is sexist. If you're doing it for other reasons [she has a child to care for, she has a longer life expectancy so she needs more $ over time, etc. that is not. Hey, insurance companies have different policy rates based on gender partly because of biological reasons [women have a longer life expectancy, etc.].

Also, what are you going to do if your opponent is trans? Now you've really got a dilemma. Easier to just discriminate on the basis of skill level. [I'm only half-kidding; the day will come when this will happen, if it hasn't already.]

Note I'm not making value judgements. I just disagree with your logic.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
No there is not. Obligations are created by written, codified rules by an authority with the due power to do so. Obligations may also be created by individuals making explicit agreements. Unless you can show me the written rule or my explicit agreement, I am under no obligation to treat all opponents equally on the tennis court.

Feminazis on internet forums do not create obligations by fiat, mo matter how much they wish it to be true.
I believe this would fall under the GARS [generally accepted rules of sportsmanship] clause [yes, I just made that acronym up]. We do certain things and refrain from doing other things based on GARS, which is unwritten. The two or four people on the court accept this common framework. Almost never does it result in one player or team asking for written proof. The people I play tennis with would not hammer a serve at a relatively lower-skilled opponent, regardless of gender. That's part of our GARS. Perhaps the group you play with is different. If so, I wouldn't want to be the lower-skilled man who was trying to get into the game.

Resorting to name-calling doesn't fit the rest of your logic-based post.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
I believe this would fall under the GARS [generally accepted rules of sportsmanship] clause [yes, I just made that acronym up]. We do certain things and refrain from doing other things based on GARS, which is unwritten. The two or four people on the court accept this common framework. Almost never does it result in one player or team asking for written proof. The people I play tennis with would not hammer a serve at a relatively lower-skilled opponent, regardless of gender. That's part of our GARS. Perhaps the group you play with is different. If so, I wouldn't want to be the lower-skilled man who was trying to get into the game.

Resorting to name-calling doesn't fit the rest of your logic-based post.
I ran into this situation a couple of weeks ago: a guy who was hitting with his kid joined our threesome to play doubles. It was obvious he wasn't at our level so I adjusted my serve. That to me is good sportsmanship and my partner did likewise; we didn't have to confer or do a lookup of the rulebook on our phones. By the same token, the guy's partner was a player significantly better than my partner and I. I'm sure he could have busted out a monster, collegiate serve but again, he chose not to. GARS.

And, if you think about it, this same principle applies to society in general. I'm pretty certain you adhere to certain behaviors governed by these unwritten, non-obligatory codes of conduct; otherwise, you'd be an outcast.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
No there is not. Obligations are created by written, codified rules by an authority with the due power to do so. Obligations may also be created by individuals making explicit agreements. Unless you can show me the written rule or my explicit agreement, I am under no obligation to treat all opponents equally on the tennis court.

Feminazis on internet forums do not create obligations by fiat, mo matter how much they wish it to be true.
Actually, I think you are obligated to treat all opponents fairly and with respect on a tennis court. Our issue here may be with our respective definitions of the word "obligated."

You are permitted to be sexist or racist or any other -ist on a tennis court, so long as you keep it in your own head and don't voice it. In that sense, you are correct. You can be sexist (i.e. making decisions about opponents based on gender rather than tennis skill). There is no rule or law against it, so you are right about that.

When I say "obligated," I mean it in the sense of "GARS," as S&V Not Dead Yet explained so well.

If you are saying you will only observe GARS if there is a written agreement or codified rule, well . . . I guess you can do that. It will likely catch up with you, but I guess you can go that way if you want.

Regarding your decision to drag out the insult "Feminazi," I think I'll just leave it hanging out there rather than toss out insults of my own. Others can decide how and whether it reflects on you as a person. I certainly stand by what I said that provoked the insult: Tennis players are obligated to treat opponents equally, meaning "with respect."
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
If I choose to ease up on my serve solely because my opponent is a woman, not taking any other factor into account [like, say, whether she can handle it], that seems to fit the definition of sexist to a "T" [treating people differently solely on the basis of gender].
By this definition of "sexist," it is sexist to require mixed doubles teams to include one man and one women (as is every other sporting rule making distinctions soley on the basis of gender.)

Is mixed doubles inherently sexist? Is having separate categories for men's and women's tennis inherently sexist? Should groupings in tennis only consider ability without regard to gender?

Or does your definition of "sexist" only apply when it is convenient? Mixed doubles inherently makes a distinction between the sexes. It is not a failure of sportsmanship to recognize that. Where I play tennis, the GARS may be different from where you play.

In the past few years, my son was often disheartened when he played Ultimate (frisbee) because he perceived the less experienced young women getting thrown to more often by the better male players. I told him to suck it up and become a better player if you want to get thrown to more often. Maybe it would have been more helpful if I had explained how the young men were failing to display sportsmanship by not distributing the disk blindly to gender and only according to skill. Can't you see how foolish that would have been? It didn't take too long for my son to get better, and now he is a leading scorer.

The GARS on the local Ultimate fields definitely treat female players differently from males. I'm OK with that.
 
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D

Deleted member 733170

Guest
To me, as a man who has played tennis for ~15 years, the subject of gender as it relates to tennis is one that continues to fascinate/trouble me.

My wife and I took up the sport precisely because it is one of the few sports in which men and women can play together, as part of a team. We played volleyball for awhile, which also qualified in this respect, but as we reached our 30s we felt like we no longer fit in all that well with the volleyball crowd - most of whom were in their early 20s. So, we switched to tennis.

Despite tennis being a sport in which men and women can play with and against each other, I've come to believe more and more over the years that there is a strong undercurrent of sexism that is increasingly difficult for me to ignore. This discussion is an example of that. (No offense to the OP, or anyone who has posted. I don't mean that anyone is intentionally being sexist. The purpose of the original question was clearly to determine mores of etiquette, but the premise of the discussion - whether women should be treated the same as men - is incontrovertibly sexist.)

The answer, of course, is you, as a man, should treat a woman the same way you would treat a man.
  • If, in a recreational men's doubles match you take it a little easier on an opposing player who doesn't play at the same level you do, then if you are playing a mixed match and the opposing woman meets that same criteria, then go ahead and take it a little easier on her too.
  • If, in a men's USTA league match or tournament, you do whatever you can (within the rules, of course) to win the match, up to and including picking on the weaker opponent, then you should do the same in a mixed match.
Personally, I believe it's time for a change in the NTRP rating system. I posted a poll a few years back on this topic, and while the poll was poorly worded, it appears that at a ratio of about 4:1 tennis players would prefer a gender-neutral rating system. By that I mean a rating system that is entirely based on tennis outcomes. If player A has about an even record playing against players who are rated 3.0, then Player A should be rated 3.0 - regardless of whether Player A is a man or a woman, and regardless of the gender of the players he/she played. Evidently TenCap has created just such a rating system, but for it to really work I think the USTA would have to adopt/promote something.

Among the advantages to such a system would be a (probably gradual) reduction in sexist attitudes - at least in respect to the sport of tennis.

Imagine never again having to think about things like:
  • How should I play to the woman in a MxD match? (The tennis playing ability of everyone on the opposite side of the court is roughly equal to yours, so you better play your best or you will likely lose.)
  • Is it ok to have a woman sub for me in my men's Tuesday night 3.5 club league? (If she's rated 3.5, then "Yes." Then again, you might very well no longer have a "men's" Tuesday night league, but rather simply a Tue night 3.5 league.)
  • Is it ok to have a man sub for me in my women's Tue night 4.0 club league? (See above)
And imagine how many more potential opponents you could have - particularly if you are a currently high-rated woman or low-rated man. 4.5 women in a lot of areas are likely relegated to playing the same 10-30 women all year. And for those who work, there might not be any evening leagues available at all. Move to a gender-neutral system though, and those women could play with like-skilled men - opening up more playing opportunities.

Similarly, 2.5 rated men might not be able to find a lot of playing partners. What if they could play in leagues with women who are currently rated 3.0-3.5?

Sorry to steal the thread, but the more I think about this, and the more I see discussions like this, the more sense a gender-neutral rating system seems to make. I suppose I'm hoping enough other tennis players begin to feel the same way and maybe the USTA will actually recognize the groundswell and make the change.

IMO, it's way past time to do so.
All good and well but your proposal would pretty much exclude higher ranked men from ever enjoying the delights of mixed doubles.
 

AtomicForehand

Hall of Fame
This. Yes, this; this all day. Thank you, penpal.

To me, as a man who has played tennis for ~15 years, the subject of gender as it relates to tennis is one that continues to fascinate/trouble me.

My wife and I took up the sport precisely because it is one of the few sports in which men and women can play together, as part of a team. We played volleyball for awhile, which also qualified in this respect, but as we reached our 30s we felt like we no longer fit in all that well with the volleyball crowd - most of whom were in their early 20s. So, we switched to tennis.

Despite tennis being a sport in which men and women can play with and against each other, I've come to believe more and more over the years that there is a strong undercurrent of sexism that is increasingly difficult for me to ignore. This discussion is an example of that. (No offense to the OP, or anyone who has posted. I don't mean that anyone is intentionally being sexist. The purpose of the original question was clearly to determine mores of etiquette, but the premise of the discussion - whether women should be treated the same as men - is incontrovertibly sexist.)

The answer, of course, is you, as a man, should treat a woman the same way you would treat a man.
  • If, in a recreational men's doubles match you take it a little easier on an opposing player who doesn't play at the same level you do, then if you are playing a mixed match and the opposing woman meets that same criteria, then go ahead and take it a little easier on her too.
  • If, in a men's USTA league match or tournament, you do whatever you can (within the rules, of course) to win the match, up to and including picking on the weaker opponent, then you should do the same in a mixed match.
Personally, I believe it's time for a change in the NTRP rating system. I posted a poll a few years back on this topic, and while the poll was poorly worded, it appears that at a ratio of about 4:1 tennis players would prefer a gender-neutral rating system. By that I mean a rating system that is entirely based on tennis outcomes. If player A has about an even record playing against players who are rated 3.0, then Player A should be rated 3.0 - regardless of whether Player A is a man or a woman, and regardless of the gender of the players he/she played. Evidently TenCap has created just such a rating system, but for it to really work I think the USTA would have to adopt/promote something.

Among the advantages to such a system would be a (probably gradual) reduction in sexist attitudes - at least in respect to the sport of tennis.

Imagine never again having to think about things like:
  • How should I play to the woman in a MxD match? (The tennis playing ability of everyone on the opposite side of the court is roughly equal to yours, so you better play your best or you will likely lose.)
  • Is it ok to have a woman sub for me in my men's Tuesday night 3.5 club league? (If she's rated 3.5, then "Yes." Then again, you might very well no longer have a "men's" Tuesday night league, but rather simply a Tue night 3.5 league.)
  • Is it ok to have a man sub for me in my women's Tue night 4.0 club league? (See above)
And imagine how many more potential opponents you could have - particularly if you are a currently high-rated woman or low-rated man. 4.5 women in a lot of areas are likely relegated to playing the same 10-30 women all year. And for those who work, there might not be any evening leagues available at all. Move to a gender-neutral system though, and those women could play with like-skilled men - opening up more playing opportunities.

Similarly, 2.5 rated men might not be able to find a lot of playing partners. What if they could play in leagues with women who are currently rated 3.0-3.5?

Sorry to steal the thread, but the more I think about this, and the more I see discussions like this, the more sense a gender-neutral rating system seems to make. I suppose I'm hoping enough other tennis players begin to feel the same way and maybe the USTA will actually recognize the groundswell and make the change.

IMO, it's way past time to do so.
 
Because only a tool or a pinhead would walk onto a court for a league or tournament match and ask his opponents if they are up to the task.

It is insulting.

It is obnoxious.

I hope you are kidding.
Well... I'm not kidding.

FWIW, the intention is not to be obnoxious or insulting, but to determine at the outset where on the competitive vs friendly spectrum my companions feel comfortable, rather than merely intuiting it after the fact.

I didn't make it clear when I posed the question, but I was assuming a female player at a distinct disadvantage in terms of skill level - not because female players are necessarily worse than I am, but because I certainly agree that it's silly to hold back against an opponent at, near, or above your own level regardless of gender. Not a question worth asking in that case. To make another point explicit, a particularly large gap in playing level within a league or tournament setting is only really common in mixed doubles, where male 4.5s often play against female 3.5s. It's not an issue that male players often run into against each other in league play - the playing levels are closer. To make one last point explicit, it does seem that some mixed leagues are more competitive than others.

It feels to me, imagined or not, that there is some degree of social pressure on stronger male players in this scenario both to win but also to avoid using any tactics that could 'injure' a female opponent (and you might notice from an earlier post I made in this thread that I personally tend to doubt the 'danger' posed by a tennis ball in the first place). A hard flat serve is one example, but the same applies to situations where an opponent crowds the net but puffs up if you hit a hard ground stroke at her from inside the baseline.

One subset of opponents resents it if you take it easy on them; another resents it if you play to win and trust them to protect themselves; and apparently some or all of the above resent it if you ask them which way they prefer to play, assuming your replies are any guide. Do you think I'm imagining one of these types into existence?
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Do we really want to insist that all sports and participants be completely blind to gender, not only in the formal rules, but also in the exercise of discretion and sportsmanship?

I don't think so.

We've already considered some examples from tennis, so I'll mention some other sports I am familiar with.

For example, the shooting sports have long recognized and granted awards to the top female participants, regardless of how their performance compares with the men in the tournament. This is formally codified in the rules of the governing organizations (which include the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the US). There are even events and tournaments for women only. Is this sexist to the degree that we should insist on change? Likewise, sportsman in the shooting sports go well out of their way to accomodate women and make them feel welcome. At one recent event, a young lady was having trouble with her rifle, and a kind gentleman loaned her an expensive target rifle and ammo which allowed her to complete the tournament. This extreme act of sportsmanship allowed her to finish in second place in a state level championship. I have often seen young men have problems with their rifles, yet I've never seen another competitor offer to loan an expensive target rifle and ammo to allow a young man to compete a tournament competitively. In the south, this isn't sexist, it is simply what a gentleman does. It is foolish to insist that a man who would not lend his rifle to other men should not lend his rifle to a woman participant.

As another example, one might consider sport fishing. In informal settings, men will go further out of their way to see that women catch fish and have a good time than they tend to for other men. In formal competition, there are usually awards for the woman who catches the biggest fish, but if a woman happens to catch the biggest fish (overall), there is no separate award for the man who catches the biggest fish. Likewise, there are tournaments that only allow women participants, but I've never known a fishing tournament that only allowed men. Insisting that all these situations be ended or changed so that sexes are always treated equally is not a righteous, sporting, and moral resolution of rampant sexism, it is an infringement on the liberty of free people who reasonably have made certain choices in their informal and formal way of fishing. I don't usually have an extra rifle at shooting events, but I almost always have an extra fishing pole. I am much more likely to loan it to a woman or a child to help them enjoy their day fishing than I am to a man, especially in a tournament setting.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
By this definition of "sexist," it is sexist to require mixed doubles teams to include one man and one women (as is every other sporting rule making distinctions soley on the basis of gender.)
The definition I'm using agrees with what's in my dictionary: "Discriminating in favor of members of one sex."

If you serve monsters to guys because you expect them to deal with it but you don't to women of equal ability, that clearly fits the above definition. But maybe it doesn't fit your definition.

Is mixed doubles inherently sexist? Is having separate categories for men's and women's tennis inherently sexist? Should groupings in tennis only consider ability without regard to gender?
Quite possibly. Some have even proposed getting rid of gender classifications in tennis and just go by rating. Me, I generally just want good competition and friendly people. Competition and friendliness are gender-neutral terms.

Or does your definition of "sexist" only apply when it is convenient? Mixed doubles inherently makes a distinction between the sexes. It is not a failure of sportsmanship to recognize that. Where I play tennis, the GARS may be different from where you play.
The GARS thing came up when CindySphinx commented about people having an obligation to treat others with respect and you disagreed because it wasn't a law, wasn't written, and wasn't explicitly agreed to by you. I don't see how it applies or doesn't apply any more or less with MXDs. To me that seems like a non sequitur.

I do agree that MXDs "inherently makes a distinction between the sexes" although one could argue that the participants have implicitly agreed to participate under that construct. If people thought it was sexist and bad, they could refrain from participating. I don't know anyone who has taken that path [my experience with MXDs is admittedly limited].

In the past few years, my son was often disheartened when he played Ultimate (frisbee) because he perceived the less experienced young women getting thrown to more often by the better male players. I told him to suck it up and become a better player if you want to get thrown to more often. Maybe it would have been more helpful if I had explained how the young men were failing to display sportsmanship by not distributing the disk blindly to gender and only according to skill. Can't you see how foolish that would have been? It didn't take too long for my son to get better, and now he is a leading scorer.

The GARS on the local Ultimate fields definitely treat female players differently from males. I'm OK with that.
Was this a case of sexism or the fact that your son was an unknown so he didn't start getting passes until he established himself. The former is gender-dependent; the latter is not.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Do we really want to insist that all sports and participants be completely blind to gender, not only in the formal rules, but also in the exercise of discretion and sportsmanship?

I don't think so.

We've already considered some examples from tennis, so I'll mention some other sports I am familiar with.

For example, the shooting sports have long recognized and granted awards to the top female participants, regardless of how their performance compares with the men in the tournament. This is formally codified in the rules of the governing organizations (which include the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the US). There are even events and tournaments for women only. Is this sexist to the degree that we should insist on change? Likewise, sportsman in the shooting sports go well out of their way to accomodate women and make them feel welcome. At one recent event, a young lady was having trouble with her rifle, and a kind gentleman loaned her an expensive target rifle and ammo which allowed her to complete the tournament. This extreme act of sportsmanship allowed her to finish in second place in a state level championship. I have often seen young men have problems with their rifles, yet I've never seen another competitor offer to loan an expensive target rifle and ammo to allow a young man to compete a tournament competitively. In the south, this isn't sexist, it is simply what a gentleman does. It is foolish to insist that a man who would not lend his rifle to other men should not lend his rifle to a woman participant.

As another example, one might consider sport fishing. In informal settings, men will go further out of their way to see that women catch fish and have a good time than they tend to for other men. In formal competition, there are usually awards for the woman who catches the biggest fish, but if a woman happens to catch the biggest fish (overall), there is no separate award for the man who catches the biggest fish. Likewise, there are tournaments that only allow women participants, but I've never known a fishing tournament that only allowed men. Insisting that all these situations be ended or changed so that sexes are always treated equally is not a righteous, sporting, and moral resolution of rampant sexism, it is an infringement on the liberty of free people who reasonably have made certain choices in their informal and formal way of fishing. I don't usually have an extra rifle at shooting events, but I almost always have an extra fishing pole. I am much more likely to loan it to a woman or a child to help them enjoy their day fishing than I am to a man, especially in a tournament setting.
I'm familiar with neither shooting nor sport fishing. The analogy I can make with the lent rifle is lending your spare racquet to a female opponent but not to a male opponent. That's sexist by the dictionary definition. But no one says everyone has to follow the dictionary definition.

I go back to the original question of whether I'd hit a monster serve [if my best serve could even be called monstrous; it's all relative, I guess. Even my weak-*** serve could be considered a monster by a non-athletic person]. My response is it depends on the skill level of my opponent, not the gender.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
I'm familiar with neither shooting nor sport fishing. The analogy I can make with the lent rifle is lending your spare racquet to a female opponent but not to a male opponent. That's sexist by the dictionary definition. But no one says everyone has to follow the dictionary definition.
There are several key differences. Supplying a rifle and ammo means (roughly) $100 cost for the ammo, the time spent reloading high quality target ammo (3-5 hours), and about an hour or two carefully cleaning the rifle after the tournament. Loaning a tennis racquet is a much smaller cost, some risk of damage and that much closer to the next restringing. Further, most tennis players wouldn't hesistate to ask to borrow an extra racquet if something happened to theirs. Almost no one asks to borrow a rifle from another competitor once a match is underway. Rifles are regarded as more personal than tennis racquets, the ammo is closely matched to the rifle at these levels of competition (so the borrower needs the ammo also), and everyone knows the costs and labor involved in prepping the ammo and cleaning the rifle. Offering to lend a rifle is a much larger act of sportsmanship than lending a racquet. Consequently, there is the reasonable exercise of a lot more discretion.

The man who loaned the rifle to the young lady belongs to a gun club that emphasizes increasing participation by women and juniors. Claiming it is sexist not to loan the rifle to a young man is like saying that every scholarship program for women is sexist and every scholarship program for blacks and/or hispanics is racist. The dictionary definition of sexism (Webster) is "prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially: discrimination against women." Note that the definition does include every possible instance of unequal treatment. In the US we have a long tradition (50+ years) of allowing enhanced opportunities for members of groups that are traditionally underrepresented in certain fields. Is not a group (women) being underrepresented in the shooting sports a valid reason to loan a rifle to a woman but not to a man in a similar situation? I think the underrepresentation of women and minorities in certain professions is certainly a valid reason to offer scholarships and opportunities disproportionately to women and minorities to gain the education needed to participate more fully in those professions.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Well... I'm not kidding.

FWIW, the intention is not to be obnoxious or insulting, but to determine at the outset where on the competitive vs friendly spectrum my companions feel comfortable, rather than merely intuiting it after the fact.
You sound like a nice guy, so I apologize if my tone was biting.

Still. . . . You are not allowed to walk onto a tennis court in a competitive (league or tournament) and, while you are pulling your racket out of your bag, ask your opponents if they want you to take it easy on them. It is *your* job to figure out how hard to step on the gas. It is super rude and patronizing and condescending to ask that.

In a way, the question would be bizarre. Your opponents do not know how you play, so on what basis are they able to know whether they want you to play all out? They cannot intuit the proper way for you to play any more than you can. So *you* have to observe and decide for yourself.

One subset of opponents resents it if you take it easy on them; another resents it if you play to win and trust them to protect themselves; and apparently some or all of the above resent it if you ask them which way they prefer to play, assuming your replies are any guide. Do you think I'm imagining one of these types into existence?
I am sure people resent all sorts of things.

I am also pretty sure that a whole lot of people would think it rude, condescending and patronizing if you asked them if they want you to take it easy on them.

I have played a lot of mixed, and no one has ever asked me if they want me to take it easy on them. I think if that happened I would look at the fellow with astonishment and ignore him, especially if he asked the question before he had seen me hit a ball. Because I would think he was rude, condescending and patronizing, and I don't like that.

I guess I would say this to all of the guys who are worried about hurting women:

**Play your level.**

If you are such a beast that you are genuinely worried about hurting people, you are playing at too low a level and you ought to go pick on people your own size, so to speak. Then you will not have to ask how you should play.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Was this a case of sexism or the fact that your son was an unknown so he didn't start getting passes until he established himself. The former is gender-dependent; the latter is not.
My son quickly improved. My daughter and the other young women on the field get passed to much more than young men of similar skill level. It may be a southern thing. It may be that the guys want the girls to feel included and to keep participating and to invite their friends. It may be that the guys are hoping for a date. But every decision that factors in gender is not sexist.

But back to the serving bombs to women in mixed doubles, I guess I'm OK with it once I know the skill level of the participants. But I've been dropped into a lot of mixed doubles situations before having much of a chance to observe. I am sizing up the appropriateness of hitting the ball hard on little more than what I can see in the minute or two before the first game starts. A man has to appear pretty old and feeble before I hold back. With a woman, I am going to err on the side of caution, at least until I see what she can do. You gotta go with the information you have, and my experience (at least where I play) is that all the men can handle the heat (if they get a racquet on it), and most of the women cannot. Women in the south (at least the ones I've encountered in mixed doubles) don't really want to be treated like men, at least not by hitting tennis balls at them at 120 mph. They want to feel welcome and included. Making them feel afraid does not accomplish that. If an opposing team is pretty good and I need to beat the woman on a serve, I have a couple tricks that can do that without risking insult or injury.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Come to think of it, I ran into this exact situation: I was playing a tournament and there was an open court adjacent to mine where a woman was warming up her serve. Since my match hadn't started yet, I went over to her court and returned her serve. When she was done, she asked me to serve a few to her. I could tell observing her serve that she was several levels below me so I deliberately took as much as I could off of my serve without losing all control [ever try to ride a bike REALLY slowly? It's difficult. Same thing with a serve.]. Her response? "Whoaa!" This was in no way a "monster" serve and yet even that was enough to make her back up. If we had been playing MXDs, there's no way I would have hit a normal 1st or 2nd serve to that level of player. However, the exact same argument would apply to a guy.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
MathGeek, you sound genuinely perplexed about what is sexism and what is not. I will try to give you a working definition that will serve you in the future.

Making a distinction based on gender is not sexist. We do this all the time. Separate bathrooms. Requiring a chaperone when a male OBGYN is seeing a patient but not when a female OBGYN is.

Gender distinctions become sexist when they are based on unfounded assumptions. Walking onto a mixed doubles court with the assumption that you have to go easy on the female player is an unfounded assumption that is sexist. Until you see the two opponents play, you cannot know which of the two is stronger (or, perhaps more accurately, better at mixed doubles).

There. Now you needn't cloud this discussion with matter such as whether it is OK for you to date women instead of men.

Let's test this definition and see if it holds up. You wrote:

By this definition of "sexist," it is sexist to require mixed doubles teams to include one man and one women (as is every other sporting rule making distinctions soley on the basis of gender.)
Nope. Deciding that a mixed doubles team is defined as one man and one woman is not sexist because there is no unfounded assumptions about gender inherent in this set-up.

See how this works?

So. I think you also gave us examples of how you might give to a female panhandler and not a male one. Let's try our definition of sexism again. As S&V said, whether your decision is sexist or not depends on your rationale. If you are assuming a female panhandler might have dependents, that is an unfounded gender assumption and is sexist.

Anyway, that's the best I can do for you. Just remember, making a distinction based on race, gender etc. might or might not be racist/sexist, etc. Often, you have to look deeper and figure out what assumptions are at work.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
My son quickly improved. My daughter and the other young women on the field get passed to much more than young men of similar skill level. It may be a southern thing. It may be that the guys want the girls to feel included and to keep participating and to invite their friends. It may be that the guys are hoping for a date. But every decision that factors in gender is not sexist.

But back to the serving bombs to women in mixed doubles, I guess I'm OK with it once I know the skill level of the participants. But I've been dropped into a lot of mixed doubles situations before having much of a chance to observe. I am sizing up the appropriateness of hitting the ball hard on little more than what I can see in the minute or two before the first game starts. A man has to appear pretty old and feeble before I hold back. With a woman, I am going to err on the side of caution, at least until I see what she can do. You gotta go with the information you have, and my experience (at least where I play) is that all the men can handle the heat (if they get a racquet on it), and most of the women cannot. Women in the south (at least the ones I've encountered in mixed doubles) don't really want to be treated like men, at least not by hitting tennis balls at them at 120 mph. They want to feel welcome and included. Making them feel afraid does not accomplish that. If an opposing team is pretty good and I need to beat the woman on a serve, I have a couple tricks that can do that without risking insult or injury.
So maybe it's more of a cultural thing. As I mentioned previously, I have little MXDs experience and the few times I did play, the women were more than capable of handling their own. I also know a lot of women in general who would be mildly to extremely offended if someone gave them the pampered treatment because they were women [most of the women I know are athletic]. I gave a previous example of Mixed [coed] volleyball and how the spikers don't hold anything back when hitting. So we'll agree to disagree.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Anyway, that's the best I can do for you. Just remember, making a distinction based on race, gender etc. might or might not be racist/sexist, etc. Often, you have to look deeper and figure out what assumptions are at work.
You have to be either stupid or dishonest not to realize that by the time one has played a bit of mixed doubles in a certain setting, one may well have tangible evidence whether women in the group are likely to be able to handle a man's fastest serve and whether they are likely to appreciate it. Likewise, one may well have tangible evidence on whether most men in the group can handle it.

Once one notices an overwhelming trend, one is not acting on assumptions, one is acting on observed probabilities, which may be all that is available when a new pair of opponents walks onto the court. In the absence of direct observations of a specific player, it is not sexist to act on probabilities.
 
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MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Gender distinctions become sexist when they are based on unfounded assumptions.

Deciding that a mixed doubles team is defined as one man and one woman is not sexist because there is no unfounded assumptions about gender inherent in this set-up.
Then why not allow two man teams in mixed doubles? Is not the existence of mixed doubles based on the assumption that it would be unfair to allow two man teams to compete with mixed teams?

Isn't most separation of gender in sports based on the assumption that the separation is necessary for fairness?
 
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LuckyR

Legend
Then why not allow two man teams in mixed doubles? Is not the existence of mixed doubles based on the assumption that it would be unfair to allow two man teams to compete with mixed teams?

Isn't most separation of gender in sports based on the assumption that the separation is necessary for fairness?
Wow, for a self described "geek" your command of logic seems tenuous. Of course you may be playing devil's advocate just for the heck of it.

Uummm the reason that 2 men can't play mixed doubles is because... that's called "mens doubles". Fairness has nothing to do with it, mens is not "better" than "mixed", it just happens to be mens, not mixed. Different does not imply better nor worse.

You are correct that gender seperation in sport is primary based in fairness, but mixed doubles is not an example of seperation.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
In the absence of direct observations of a specific player, it is not sexist to act on probabilities.
That's a pretty loose definition. The dictionary [and I agree with the dictionary] doesn't say anything about an exception for acting on probabilities. It simply says "discrimination based on gender".

So I think I see your thought process: "the overwhelming majority of women can't handle a monster serve but the overwhelming majority of men can, irrespective of skill level, so I will serve monsters to the men and take it easy on the women." Is that accurate? I guess if I see that probability distribution I would tend to behave the same as you. It's still sexist, according to the definition, but it seems to lead to the least amount of conflict. [You appear to be torturing logic to avoid being labelled sexist [first you said it wasn't sexist, it was being gentlemanly [one could argue the two aren't mutually exclusive]; then you said it's not sexist if you account for probability] because, to you, sexist=bad whereas I'm not attaching any value judgement but simply looking at the definition.]

I, OTOH, haven't played much MXD so my sample size is too small. All of the women I've come across could take the heat.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
So I think I see your thought process: "the overwhelming majority of women can't handle a monster serve but the overwhelming majority of men can, irrespective of skill level, so I will serve monsters to the men and take it easy on the women." Is that accurate?
That is not accurate at all. My observations were in a specific group of people who tended to populate the mixed doubles matches where I was actually playing and in which I had to make quick decisions about how hard to serve. I would not speculate on how well all the other women tennis players in the world might handle monster serves. But since the majority of the women who have actually appeared on the other side of the court in mixed doubles would likely not handle nor appreciate monster serves, I don't send them monster serves until and unless I directly observe skill that leads me to believe they can handle it and would not be offended.

You appear to be torturing logic to avoid being labelled sexist
Not at all. I was working with another discussion participant's definition that whether an action was sexist depended on the assumptions being made. I quoted that post and explained that I was not acting on unfounded assumptions but rather on probabilities based on direct observations.

"Gender distinctions become sexist when they are based on unfounded assumptions."

The women I have encountered on the tennis court tend to be more collaborative than competitive: "Let's work together to have a good time" rather than "Let's give it all we can to crush the competition." Knowing the crowd, I think my wife, the organizer, and the organizer's wife would have been horrified and quickly asked me to stop if I started slinging 120 mph serves at the opposing women.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
That is not accurate at all. My observations were in a specific group of people who tended to populate the mixed doubles matches where I was actually playing and in which I had to make quick decisions about how hard to serve. I would not speculate on how well all the other women tennis players in the world might handle monster serves. But since the majority of the women who have actually appeared on the other side of the court in mixed doubles would likely not handle nor appreciate monster serves, I don't send them monster serves until and unless I directly observe skill that leads me to believe they can handle it and would not be offended.
My original statement should have read "the overwhelming majority of women *I run across*…". If so, it seems to me to read the same way you just responded.

The women I have encountered on the tennis court tend to be more collaborative than competitive: "Let's work together to have a good time" rather than "Let's give it all we can to crush the competition." Knowing the crowd, I think my wife, the organizer, and the organizer's wife would have been horrified and quickly asked me to stop if I started slinging 120 mph serves at the opposing women.
But your wife and everyone else in your group wouldn't be horrified if you started slinging 120mph serves at the opposing men? That's the crux of my argument: you're discriminating on the basis of gender, which, according to the dictionary, is sexist. I'm not saying it's bad. It's probably socially acceptable. But it's irrelevant to deciding whether the action fits a definition.

The women I encountered on the tennis court tended to be more competitive than collaborative. And in other sports as well. Vive la difference.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex

There is nothing unjust or prejudicial about not blasting monster serves once one has observed that most women in the group can't handle them and would not appreciate them. It may be a distinction on the basis of gender, but it is not discrimination based on gender.
 

Minion

Hall of Fame
It depends.....if your mixed opponent happens to be a WTA player, retired last year, played in 40 slam main draws....then sure drop your bombs, see what happens:)
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
There is nothing unjust or prejudicial about not blasting monster serves once one has observed that most women in the group can't handle them and would not appreciate them. It may be a distinction on the basis of gender, but it is not discrimination based on gender.
Well, now you seem to be saying something different.

You now seem to be saying that you have a particular group of men and women and, based on your experiences, it would be a bad idea to serve bombs at those particular women (and presumably it is OK to serve bombs to the men).

That is not sexist.

The reason is you are not making assumptions based on gender. In fact, you are not making assumptions at all, really. Based on experience with the people in your group, you are making decisions about how to conduct yourself in light of their observed tennis prowess or lack thereof. There's not a problem there.

There may be a problem with whether you said the same thing earlier in the thread. I'll leave that to others to suss out.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
All good and well but your proposal would pretty much exclude higher ranked men from ever enjoying the delights of mixed doubles.
Exactly. The current system is set up so that the top 3% of tennis players are rated 5.0+, the top 10% are 4.5+, the top 30% are 4.0+, etc (or whatever, I made up the numbers for illustration). This applies to both genders so that the distribution of players by rating for both men and women is (approximately) the same. This makes it easy to form mixed doubles leagues because there will be approximately equivalent numbers of men and women at each rating level. If you switch to a gender neutral rating system, then the top 10% of men are 4.5+, but only the top 2% of women, so the pool of men available to form a team at the 4.5 level is 5x the number of available women. That's going to make it exceedingly difficult to have mixed leagues above the 3.5/7.0 level and very difficult for 80% of the 4.5 men to find a team even if there is a 4.5/9.0 level league. If you say, well then let 4.5 men play with 3.0-3.5 women so that there are enough for a league, then we're right back in the exact place where we started except that the women in the league have a different number rating.

Mixed doubles is an inherently unbalanced game. That's one of the things that is unique about this type of competition. Trying to find a way to undo that imbalance is going to be futile in the end.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Mixed doubles is an inherently unbalanced game. That's one of the things that is unique about this type of competition. Trying to find a way to undo that imbalance is going to be futile in the end.
The unique imbalances are part of the allure. I often play with my wife as a partner. I hover around a 3.5, she is a solid 4.0. I have a weak net game, but a monster serve (sometimes) and excellent mobility for a 40+ 3.5, so I end up playing the baseline retriever until she jumps in and take the point. The last time we combined on a tourney win, I was the only man drenched in sweat most of the time, because the other men (mostly 4.0s paired with weaker women) didn't move anywhere near as much as I did.

I think we caught most of the teams by surprise, because our style of play differed so much from most of the other teams. But tennis is made for men and women to play together. She recently reminded me that when we had just met, I challenged her to a tennis match where the loser would have to cook dinner for the winner. Single guys, take note of this win-win proposition. I lost the match, but I won a beautiful wife!
 
I always do my best in mixed. If my opponents complain, I do use my kick or slice. The same if I test the women at the net. If my opponents are offended, I stop. Tennis is a social function for me. I'm more interested in making friends, than enemies.
 

brettatk

Semi-Pro
Most of the women I play with love a fast, hard serve. They do much better with it than a kick/slice serve. I'll usually dictate my play on how the other male plays against my partner.
 
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penpal

Semi-Pro
Exactly. The current system is set up so that the top 3% of tennis players are rated 5.0+, the top 10% are 4.5+, the top 30% are 4.0+, etc (or whatever, I made up the numbers for illustration). This applies to both genders so that the distribution of players by rating for both men and women is (approximately) the same. This makes it easy to form mixed doubles leagues because there will be approximately equivalent numbers of men and women at each rating level. If you switch to a gender neutral rating system, then the top 10% of men are 4.5+, but only the top 2% of women, so the pool of men available to form a team at the 4.5 level is 5x the number of available women. That's going to make it exceedingly difficult to have mixed leagues above the 3.5/7.0 level and very difficult for 80% of the 4.5 men to find a team even if there is a 4.5/9.0 level league. If you say, well then let 4.5 men play with 3.0-3.5 women so that there are enough for a league, then we're right back in the exact place where we started except that the women in the league have a different number rating.

Mixed doubles is an inherently unbalanced game. That's one of the things that is unique about this type of competition. Trying to find a way to undo that imbalance is going to be futile in the end.
I agree, and disagree. :confused:

A gender-neutral rating system would result in fewer cases where higher-rated men would play with women (in competitive matches, at least). On that part, I agree.

However, in a gender-neutral tennis rating world, there would be no such thing as MxD anymore ... period. There would be no such thing as MxD teams, just teams.

So, let's say you wanted to put together a 9.0 team, and that the rules allow a 1 point differential in rating between parters (i.e., one partner can be a 5.0 and the other a 4.0). In a gender-neutral world, the partnership could be made up of two men, a man and a woman, or two women. Doesn't matter, so long as one is rated 5.0 and the other 4.0 - all according to one gender-neutral rating system.

There is nothing inherent in a gender-neutral rating system that would bar players from playing with/against people of different levels if that's what they want to do. All it would do is rate everyone according to one scale, providing us all with the information necessary to determine the tennis-playing ability of another player, regardless of gender.
 

penpal

Semi-Pro
MathGeek, I don't know quite what to make of you.

You are a 3.5 rated player with a 120+ mph serve?!?!?!? o_O

My first thought on that, if you are playing me and my wife, please go ahead and attempt to hit your hard serve to her. We have played many matches against men such as yourself and I always feel badly for my wife. Why? Because I rarely have to hit the opposing male's first serve, as he is trying to hit a monster to me and it rarely goes in. She, on the other hand, is usually fed a pretty decent kick serve, or a more controlled flat serve, as a first serve by the opposing man and so doesn't get to tee off on nearly as many second serves.

The point being that 3.5-4.0 men who believe they have a consistent 90+ mph first serve are typically kidding themselves.

Second, you are evidently a southern gentleman and believe strongly in the concept of chivalry. Perhaps the women in that area believe strongly in it also. FWIW, I happen to believe that chivalry is simply another form of sexism. And a recent study agrees with me:

...men who qualified as "benevolent sexists" were likely to show warmth and patience towards their female partners, while "hostile sexists" were likely to act critical and negative — the way one might expect a misogynist to act.

As the study's authors explain, "hostile sexism" reinforces the subjugation of woman through "dominance and denigration." "Benevolent sexism" achieves the same effect, but by perpetuating the belief that women are "pure and warm yet helpless and incompetent beings in need of cherished protection from men." The difference in action: A benevolent sexist is likely to agree with the statement "A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man," while a hostile sexist is likely to agree that "Women exaggerate problems they have at work" (actual statements used on the questionnaire that male participants completed).

Both styles are rooted in a belief in gender inequality. Benevolent sexism, however, is much easier to swallow — since it's couched in praise. ...

This isn't to say that all men who open doors for women are raging misogynists, but rather that chivalry can be rooted in paternalism instead of mere etiquette — and that sexism comes in many forms. As the study's authors write, "supposed gestures of good faith may entice women to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally looks welcoming, appealing, and harmless."
Bolding mine.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
The point being that 3.5-4.0 men who believe they have a consistent 90+ mph first serve are typically kidding themselves.
I have been open in this forum that my serve is not consistent. Some days it works well, some days it does not. If I'm feeling good, I'll give it a shot, and if it keeps working, I'll go back to the well.

Second, you are evidently a southern gentleman and believe strongly in the concept of chivalry. Perhaps the women in that area believe strongly in it also. FWIW, I happen to believe that chivalry is simply another form of sexism. And a recent study agrees with me:
I do not believe in chivalry, I believe in treating people as they want to be treated, to the best I can determine that.

Since most of the women I've played mixed doubles with don't seem to like the ball served hard to them, my initial inclination is to avoid it, at least until I have information to the contrary. My wife, for example, prefers that I give her my best. So when my serve is working well, I'll rack up a number of aces over the course of a set. In the cooler weather, my serve suffers, so I have to pull out other tricks from the bag.

I'm not really a fan of getting hit with hard, fast tennis balls, either. My wife was mad that I bounced one twice on her a week or two ago and let loose a monster forehand, which I was not expecting since it had bounced twice. I was at the net so I had very little time to react, and the ball caught me in the right tricep, leaving quite a bruise. It only hurt for a minute and did not disrupt my game, but I did notice quite a bruise in the mirror soon after. I'd hate to think of similarly bruising someone I played tennis with, at least until I had a high level of confidence they were OK with hitting the ball that hard to them. My wife later apologized.

I don't tend to hit the ball hard at people of either sex at the net. When playing the over 40 crowd, they simply do not have enough time to react. I'll hit it at their feet, or I'll use pace to put it past them in between or down the alleys of at sharp crosscourt angles. But my serve is the only shot I hit really hard. I did have a fellow in mixed doubles hit one hard at my head a while back. I ended up on the ground avoiding it and it sailed far, far long. It seemed more like a control issue than intentional head hunting, but he apologized.
 

penpal

Semi-Pro
If I'm understanding you correctly then MathGeek, all you are really saying is:
  • The majority of the women you play with/against regularly tend to prefer that the men play a little less aggressively.
  • The majority of the women you play with/against regularly do not play at the same level as you (in terms of ability level, not NTRP level)
  • Therefore, when you play a woman with whom you aren't familiar you presume she is also below you in terms of her tennis ability and would prefer you to play less aggressively.
  • If, however, you discover that she is at least equally skilled, you will play "full speed" against her.
Presumably, most of the men you play with/against regularly are similar in ability level to yourself, and so your presumption when playing with/against an unknown man is that he will be of a similar ability level to yourself.

Is that a fair assessment?

All I'm really saying is that, you have only developed these natural reactions to your "observed probabilities" because of the manner in which the rating system has been established in the first place.

Why shouldn't a 3.5 woman be able to defeat a 3.5 man on any given day? Why do we all think that it's just "normal" that a 4.0 man is better than a 4.0 woman?

And what if this weren't the case? What catastrophe would befall us if a woman, who was just as good as most 3.5 guys, played in a 3.5 league with guys? This wouldn't exclude the possibility of there still being men's and women's leagues. Heck, many of us men and no doubt many of the women would still enjoy playing in leagues that essentially serve as men's/ladies nights out.

I think the only real differences that would occur if a gender-neutral rating system were instituted would be as follows:
  • Instead of Mixed Doubles leagues, we would just have Mixed leagues. Teams in a Mixed league could be made up of any combination of men and women, up to and including being 100% male or 100% female. Everyone on the team would have the same rating (give or take a couple of people playing up). These Mixed teams would play whatever combination of singles and doubles matches that are played by the men's and women's teams in the same age grouping. For example, if this were an 18+ Mixed league, they would play two singles matches and three doubles matches (in my area, at least).
  • Women who work would gain more opportunities to play in evening Mixed club leagues.
  • Players playing in men's or women's club leagues would have to explicitly decide whether they will allow members of the opposite sex to fill in as subs.
So, in essence, you would still have some separation, but everyone would be on more equal footing when the two sexes do come together to play.

What's the major downside?
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
I agree, and disagree. :confused:

A gender-neutral rating system would result in fewer cases where higher-rated men would play with women (in competitive matches, at least). On that part, I agree.

However, in a gender-neutral tennis rating world, there would be no such thing as MxD anymore ... period. There would be no such thing as MxD teams, just teams.

So, let's say you wanted to put together a 9.0 team, and that the rules allow a 1 point differential in rating between parters (i.e., one partner can be a 5.0 and the other a 4.0). In a gender-neutral world, the partnership could be made up of two men, a man and a woman, or two women. Doesn't matter, so long as one is rated 5.0 and the other 4.0 - all according to one gender-neutral rating system.

There is nothing inherent in a gender-neutral rating system that would bar players from playing with/against people of different levels if that's what they want to do. All it would do is rate everyone according to one scale, providing us all with the information necessary to determine the tennis-playing ability of another player, regardless of gender.
While what you say is certainly true, I think a large majority of people would prefer to have separate men's leagues and mixed leagues instead of one big unisex league.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
I've managed to have fun playing tennis without worrying too much about how to re-engineer the rules to serve one agenda or another. I play. I have fun. I meet new people. I make friends.

A big draw of mixed doubles is that I can play with my wife, usually as a partner. But I am also aware that a big draw of women's doubles is that the girls get to play without the men.

My guess is that if an organization tries to re-engineer doubles to eliminate the traditional men's, women's, and mixed, there will be a huge opening for other organizations to step in and offer tournaments and other playing formats (leagues, etc.) that offer the traditional approach. The players will vote with their feet, and I think the traditional categories will survive.

For my wife and I, the social aspects are more important than the equity issues.
 

penpal

Semi-Pro
It seems you both missed this part in my post above:

This wouldn't exclude the possibility of there still being men's and women's leagues. Heck, many of us men and no doubt many of the women would still enjoy playing in leagues that essentially serve as men's/ladies nights out.
I'm glad you have fun playing tennis MathGeek. Then again, it might be easier to have fun when, every time you play in a match with women you are pretty much guaranteed to be one of the stronger players on the court, thanks to the current rating system. You get to be the guy who sets up his wife at the net with your strong back court play. Or the guy who lets up a little so as to make sure everyone is having fun. Or (and I'm not saying you are this guy, but this is another characteristic I often see of guys playing MxD), the guy who instructs his female partner - telling her where to be, how to hit the ball, and when to stay out of his way.

Imagine, if you will, how much you would enjoy MxD if the reverse were true. If you had to worry about whether your partner, who is almost certainly a better player than you, was going to instruct you throughout the match, and let you know in no uncertain terms that you need to let her hit most of the shots. If your stronger partner gets most of the credit if you win, and little of the blame when you lose. If one of your opponents feeds you obvious lollipops in an effort to make it more fun for you.

Or if, after you hit a winning shot, your partner and the female across the net both chuckle and say something like, "You men are smart with the angles. We could probably learn a thing or two from you."

I'm not trying to say the current system is evil or anything, just that it could be improved. It's easy for us men to look around and say, "What's the big deal?"

Personally, the more I observe, the more I think it is a big deal when a system is established that places women in a position where they are bound to feel weaker than men - and are treated accordingly.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
I'm glad you have fun playing tennis MathGeek. Then again, it might be easier to have fun when, every time you play in a match with women you are pretty much guaranteed to be one of the stronger players on the court, thanks to the current rating system. You get to be the guy who sets up his wife at the net with your strong back court play. Or the guy who lets up a little so as to make sure everyone is having fun. Or (and I'm not saying you are this guy, but this is another characteristic I often see of guys playing MxD), the guy who instructs his female partner - telling her where to be, how to hit the ball, and when to stay out of his way.

Imagine, if you will, how much you would enjoy MxD if the reverse were true. If you had to worry about whether your partner, who is almost certainly a better player than you, was going to instruct you throughout the match, and let you know in no uncertain terms that you need to let her hit most of the shots. If your stronger partner gets most of the credit if you win, and little of the blame when you lose. If one of your opponents feeds you obvious lollipops in an effort to make it more fun for you.

Or if, after you hit a winning shot, your partner and the female across the net both chuckle and say something like, "You men are smart with the angles. We could probably learn a thing or two from you."

I'm not trying to say the current system is evil or anything, just that it could be improved. It's easy for us men to look around and say, "What's the big deal?"
If it ain't broke ...

Most of the time I play mixed doubles, I have a partner who is a better player than I am. My wife has always been a better player, and she is my most common mixed doubles partner. I've also played a bit with the wife of a local tennis pro who is a much better player than I am and coaches several local teams. I have no idea why she seeks me out, but I would not imagine to be the better player on either of those teams. I sure don't try to tell my MxD partners what to do, but I am happy when stronger players let me know what to do so I can come close to holding up my end.

I believe that tennis organizations should adopt the policies and programs that their local members most desire. It may be that your proposed system will be in demand in the NW or out west, but I do not foresee a majority of local members wanting it in the deep south.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
It seems you both missed this part in my post above:



I'm glad you have fun playing tennis MathGeek. Then again, it might be easier to have fun when, every time you play in a match with women you are pretty much guaranteed to be one of the stronger players on the court, thanks to the current rating system. You get to be the guy who sets up his wife at the net with your strong back court play. Or the guy who lets up a little so as to make sure everyone is having fun. Or (and I'm not saying you are this guy, but this is another characteristic I often see of guys playing MxD), the guy who instructs his female partner - telling her where to be, how to hit the ball, and when to stay out of his way.

Imagine, if you will, how much you would enjoy MxD if the reverse were true. If you had to worry about whether your partner, who is almost certainly a better player than you, was going to instruct you throughout the match, and let you know in no uncertain terms that you need to let her hit most of the shots. If your stronger partner gets most of the credit if you win, and little of the blame when you lose. If one of your opponents feeds you obvious lollipops in an effort to make it more fun for you.

Or if, after you hit a winning shot, your partner and the female across the net both chuckle and say something like, "You men are smart with the angles. We could probably learn a thing or two from you."

I'm not trying to say the current system is evil or anything, just that it could be improved. It's easy for us men to look around and say, "What's the big deal?"

Personally, the more I observe, the more I think it is a big deal when a system is established that places women in a position where they are bound to feel weaker than men - and are treated accordingly.
No, you missed the point. People, both men and women, also enjoy mixed doubles the way it is. If not, there wouldn't be mixed leagues. The natural imbalance of the levels adds another layer of strategy to the game. And none of this stuff actually happens in any significant way in competitive league matches:

Imagine, if you will, how much you would enjoy MxD if the reverse were true. If you had to worry about whether your partner, who is almost certainly a better player than you, was going to instruct you throughout the match, and let you know in no uncertain terms that you need to let her hit most of the shots. If your stronger partner gets most of the credit if you win, and little of the blame when you lose. If one of your opponents feeds you obvious lollipops in an effort to make it more fun for you.

Or if, after you hit a winning shot, your partner and the female across the net both chuckle and say something like, "You men are smart with the angles. We could probably learn a thing or two from you."


Women are, by the nature of the game, generally going to be the weaker player, but that doesn't mean anyone is feeding them lollipops so they have fun, too, or doing anything condescending like that. You can be a stronger player and still respect someone. If not, why would any women even sign up for a mixed league?
 

penpal

Semi-Pro
No, you missed the point. People, both men and women, also enjoy mixed doubles the way it is. If not, there wouldn't be mixed leagues. The natural imbalance of the levels adds another layer of strategy to the game. And none of this stuff actually happens in any significant way in competitive league matches:
As I already pointed out, there would be nothing inherent in a gender-neutral rating system that would prevent imbalanced partnerships. At the 8.0 level, for example, you could still have one team made up of two 4.0 players playing against a 4.5/3.5 combo team. And those teams could be made up of any combination of men/women, so if someone enjoys playing with a member of the opposite sex there would be nothing preventing them from doing so.

Women are, by the nature of the game, generally going to be the weaker player
Categorically false. There are plenty of women in any given club who would beat many of the men at the club. A woman who has a 4.5 NTRP rating is almost certainly going to beat a man with a 3.0 NTRP rating, and probably most men with a 3.5 NTRP rating. It is my contention that the only reason we tend to think that women are weaker players is BECAUSE of the way the current rating system is designed.


but that doesn't mean anyone is feeding them lollipops so they have fun, too, or doing anything condescending like that.
Wasn't that the original point of this thread - whether a guy should hit his big serve to a woman? Sounds condescending to me.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Amazingly, mytennisaddict just bumped a thread from 2008 in which the Universal Tennis Rating system is discussed. Sounds almost exactly like what we have been discussing in this thread.

I didn't even know this rating system existed. And according to this article, which mytennisaddict links to in the other thread, it's gaining in popularity.
Sounds about as viable as the Libertarian Party.

To have been under discussion since at least 2008, and only be used by a handful of tournaments is not exactly taking the tennis world by storm. The Libertarian Party is gaining in popularity also, they may break 5% in the 2016 elections.

I don't think I'd avoid a tourney just because they used the UTR, but living in the deep south how many chances am I going to get in 2016, even if I am willing to attend a tourney in LA, MS, AL, GA, or SC?
 

penpal

Semi-Pro
To have been under discussion since at least 2008, and only be used by a handful of tournaments is not exactly taking the tennis world by storm.
Yeah, for better or worse I think the only way a rating system would have a legitimate chance of "taking the tennis world by storm" in the U.S. is if it were supported/used by USTA. And right now, the USTA is using the NTRP system.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Yeah, for better or worse I think the only way a rating system would have a legitimate chance of "taking the tennis world by storm" in the U.S. is if it were supported/used by USTA. And right now, the USTA is using the NTRP system.
You are in fantasy land if you think an organization could implement this kind of change without the full support of its membership.

If the membership wanted it, it would have happened already.
 

penpal

Semi-Pro
Fantasy land? I'm not so sure about that. When I started playing tennis there was no self-rate. You had to be observed by a club pro and were assigned a rating.

That changed.

When they introduced self-rating, they also introduced dynamic ratings - the idea being that this would help prevent self-raters from cheating the system.

Another change.

Recently, Larry Jones, the guy who wrote the NTRP computer program, has said, "the next step in the NTRP’s evolution would be to make rating differentiations between singles and doubles results.'

“I’d say about 20 percent of players have a significant difference in their singles and doubles ability, either because of age or hand-eye coordination,” he explained. “It would be great to see that ratings change happen in the coming years.”
Perhaps the solution to my proposed problem isn't an entirely new rating system, but rather another change to the NTRP system. Maybe after Mr. Jones finishes the doubles/singles differentiation he could work on a gender-neutral differentiation. Maybe in the future, instead of simply being a 4.0 rated player I will be a 4.0 Men's Doubles (MD), a 3.5 MS, and a 4.5 Combined ... or something to that effect.

Seems like it could make for some interesting possibilities, and maybe even additional money-making opportunities for USTA, as it could allow for new types of leagues.
 

LakeSnake

Professional
If I were playing someone much better than me with a serve capable of decapitating me, and that person asked if he/she should abstain from doing so, I would not feel insulted. I am male. Perhaps if I were female, I would feel differently.
 
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