When the Australian (tennis) Open was on TV back in January, I noted that this was the first time Chinese television had shown any sport I cared about in the slightest — other than in pure curiosity fashion, like the Cambodian soccer playoffs. And, as I noted, in the absence of watchable sports suddenly I had all this time that in my previous life I had devoted to seeing what was happening to the Redskins, or in the Final Four, or with my kids’ childhood idol Mike Mussina (based on his days as an Oriole), or in general any real-time interesting sports contest.
As i write, the most graceful tennis player anyone now living has ever seen, Roger Federer, is struggling to shake off a one-set deficit and a plague of sloppy errors against Rafael Nadal in the French Open final. And Chinese TV is carrying it live! I am fascinated, and again I’m reminded: this is how I used to spend my time. Ah well, I can tell myself that I’m getting language benefits too. If you want an endless-repetition drill on how the Chinese word for “beautiful,” 漂亮 or piaoliang, is pronounced, just watch one of Federer’s matches (even this one, despite the errors) as covered by CCTV5.