Most professional sports are way better to watch on TV than in person. You don’t have to spend hours getting to and from the (crowded and overpriced) venue. You can do something else when nothing’s happening on the field, you can hit Pause on the TiVo. You can simply get a better view of the action on your home screen than from all except the very most expensive seats.
I recognize that the simple fun of spending a warm evening at a baseball stadium is an exception. But its pleasures are only vaguely related to what players are doing on the field.
Here’s another exception, which is all about the players’ performance: the early-round action in a pro tennis tournament, in circumstances that let you get right next to the athletes as they are walloping the ball back and forth. That’s why the sports-fan part of my consciousness spends 51 weeks of the year looking forward to the first week of August, when the pro-tennis tour makes its stop in reliably sweltering Washington D.C.
The tournament that began yesterday at the Rock Creek Park tennis complex has had a series of names through its 40-plus years of existence. Now it is the “Citi Open.” Before that it was the Legg Mason Classic, and before that it had the names of several banks. Touchingly, at the dawn of time it was the Washington Star Classic, which it ceased being when that newspaper went out of business in the early 1980s.