Common Sense: What happened to you, Davis Cup? You used to be cool.
Davis Cup: I’m over 100 years-old. Nobody stays cool for that long. Although I have no explanation for Betty White’s sudden surge in popularity.
CS: I mean you used to be more relevant. You were an event sports fans – even casual ones – paid at least some attention to. Now you’re just for diehards.
DC: Don’t be such a hater. I think I had a pretty good opening round: Kazakhstan made history upsetting the Czech Republic and getting to the quarterfinals; France won a crazy seesaw tie with Austria; Dr. Ivo set a new serve speed record; and Roddick proved his mettle against Chile, overcoming tough conditions and a game effort from that guy who looks like “The Count” from Sesame Street. What’s not to like?
CS: That’s all true, but you won’t capitalize on any of it. All your momentum will be lost by the next tie. And everybody knows that momentum is everything in sports.
DC: Here we go again. I know where this is headed: you think my format is dated.
CS: Isn’t it, though? The next round isn’t for another four months. All the compelling storylines from this past weekend will be long forgotten by then. The composition of some the teams won’t even be the same. Plus, the next round is the weekend after Wimbledon. There’s a reason there’s no football the week after the Super Bowl. Fans need a breather.
DC: Perhaps. Or maybe everybody will still be so excited from Wimbledon, they’ll crave more tennis. I’ll be the perfect antidote.
CS: Keep dreaming. Here’s a more likely scenario: Nadal has an exhausting Wimbledon culminating with a dramatic five-set final, prompting him to pullout of the highly-anticipated Davis Cup match at the U.S. How disappointing would it be to fans if Spain competes without the country’s, and game’s, best player?
DC: Monumentally. But people will still be interested, even if the product isn’t quite as good. It’s like watching Pat McEnroe broadcast a match instead of his brother.
CS: Sure it’s watchable, but it’s been cheapened. That’s your overall problem: You’re just not as good as you could be. Even Jim Courier, before his very first tie as captain, told the NYTimes that a change to the scheduling is long overdue. He proposes making it a two-week event at one location: easier to promote, easier for fans to follow, easier for top players to commit.
DC: Courier is such a know-it-all. And I don’t trust gingers. How does he propose telling the host countries that need these ties as a source of revenue for the sport that they have to look elsewhere? And what about the atmosphere created by a vociferous home crowd?
CS: Nobody said there wouldn’t be some pain. Everybody has turf to protect. But moving it to one important location – just like the Olympics, World and Ryder Cups – will add much needed gravitas to the event. Plus, under those conditions, more tickets and a more lucrative TV contract could be sold. The participating countries could still get money out of it. And fans will still make it a partisan, raucous event. No matter how loud their fans are, Albany, one of the three finalists to host the Spain tie, does not scream major sports destination.
DC: Personally, I’m pulling for Austin.
CS: Austin in July? Are you a fan of heatstroke?
DC: Ok, explain the one spot, two-week format one more time…