Main content

Fitzy's focus: quiet please

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 24: Jack Fitzpatrick of the Hawks poses for a portrait during the Hawthorn Hawks team photo day at the Ricoh Centre, Melbourne on January 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
In Fitzy's focus, no one's safe...

Quiet, please!

As I sit down to write this edition of 'Fitzy’s Focus', the summer of tennis has just come to an end. The memories of The Australian Open will remain in my mind much more than the Davis Cup will after our loss to the Germans (maybe I can find a better way for Bernard Tomic to spend his time than in the jungle after all?). 

Much like the rest of Australia, I find Roger Federer so very lovable. The moment there are no Aussies left in the Open, I find myself defaulting to #TeamFed! Seeing the Fed Express win Grand Slam number 20 at the age of 36 (yes, amazingly there are athletes out there older than Shaun Burgoyne) was one of the highlights of my summer.

I do consider myself a tennis fan; I’m not an expert like Marc Pittonet, but I do enjoy following the sport all year round. However, despite the fact I’m a fan, and despite the whole romanticism about Roger Federer, there is something that irks me about men’s and women’s alike: the whole 'silence' factor.

These are professional athletes, the best men and women at this sport in the world. They are paid millions of dollars, mostly coming from the fans, and it is these same fans who are told when they are and aren’t allowed to cheer. Pretty much every other sport in the world (with the exception of golf, but don't get me started on golf) thrives on crowd atmosphere.

Just imagine LeBron James shooting a free throw, or Lionel Messi taking a penalty. Think of Jack Gunston having a set shot for goal, or Steve Smith on 99 as the bowler comes in to bowl. In each of these scenarios, the crowd is going mental. Even at the Olympics, field athletes will themselves start the slow clap to try and get the crowd involved. Yes, the crowd goes silent as sprinters line up for the 100m, but to be fair, it’s reasonably important to actually hear the start gun.

As I said, it’s the paying fans who put the dosh in the pockets of sporting stars. The fans who fork out their hard earned to go and watch the world’s best, only to be told that they must contain their excitement until an LED flashing sign is raised that says 'cheer now' (well, kind of). And to add salt to the wound, there are a large handful of tennis players who insist on moaning after every shot they play. The howling, screeching and downright annoying noise coming from both male and female players would surely be banned if it was SO important that there be no noise? But no, there is no ban. So why must the crowd remain silent when watching their heroes, whilst during the point, fans are subjected to sounds which could easily be mistaken for a cat being swung around by its tail, or the musical stylings of DJ Stratton behind the decks. It’s simply hypocritical.

I have no doubt that far more learned people than myself will tell me I’m wrong, that there is a reason tennis players (and golfers) require silence as they approach their shot. Well, to them, I simply say that I don’t want to hear it – if you can’t deal with a little bit of noise, maybe you shouldn’t be out there. 

AFL players will tell you just how loud it is out in the middle of the ground. On the MCG, it doesn’t even have to be half full to struggle to hear your teammates. You literally have to shout at the top of your lungs just to convey a message to a player only 10 metres from you! But it’s part of the game, part of the challenge of playing AFL at the elite level.

The facts are that these days, sport is part of the entertainment business. Sportspeople from all around the world are more than capable of dealing with some noise as they show off their exceptional skill in their field. So why do the highly skilled men and women of both professional golf and tennis live under a completely unnecessary different set of rules?

I think that’s enough ranting for one day. If I don’t stop now, I’ll move on to the Superbowl (I watched the second half and thought it was awesome – something nearly actually happened. Who’d have thought?) However, I won’t go into it, otherwise Isaac Smith, Luke Bruest and the rest of their Hawthorn NFL Fantasy crew will probably come after me!

As always, feel free to submit your feedback (good or bad), or suggestions on where I can focus my attention next, to either @HawthornFC or @jfitzpatrick_t1 with the hashtag #FitzysFocus

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs