Quantification is a key concept, modern and still only partially developed: Galileo timed things with his pulse: most people still don’t get it, not even if they’re in a science department at Harvard.
Wimbledon is coming, the tennis world, the civilized world, is about to retest its enthusiasms: who’s number 1? (on grass) Who’s #2? Who’s 1 and 2 among the women …
Johnnie Mac, a good tennis player but an even better stand-up (or sit-down) commentator, had said that Serena Williams was one of the greatest athletes of all time. He’d also said that she was the best female tennis player ever seen publicly. Ah, but people, people who don’t know their ass from their elbow, were saying that he said she was one of the greatest, period; so he had to qualify: greatest female tennis player. He qualified further: if we were talking about tennis players worldwide, without regard to gender, he estimated she’d be able to play competitively among the males at a level around 700 world-wide: the top 699 male tennis players would beat her off the court; she might split sets with players #700, 701.
Serena didn’t thank him for the compliment. Until we actually test such claims in a series of tournaments, it’s neither a compliment nor an insult. It would become a compliment if we knew, from rational testing, how other great female tennis players would have faired against the top several hundred men. Ask yourself, you can’t “look it up”: how deep among the males would Chrissie have had to play before she won, ever? before she won consistently? How deep would Navrotalova have had to play? Lenglen? Hingis? When would Sharapova have started to win a set now and then playing against males? 800? 900? Would Martina Hingis have been able to beat ranked males while the number was still three-figures? Played the 700th ranked male Hingis loses 0-6, 0-6? How about Court? Lenglen?
How many women players would win a single game before we got to male #1,000? #3,015?
Myth must not be tested.
No, no. Notice. Civilization doesn’t know the answer. We’ve been protected from the answer. We’re in the realm where reason is forbidden, myth rules. Myth must not be tested, no quantification for religious beliefs.
Serena’s reply to Mac was was cute: please limit yourself to things knowable!
Wait: no imagining allowed? Notice, the web interviews celebrities; no scientists, no philosophers. No, no. Our prejudices are far too important to us to allow rational inquiry: no testing allowed.
Chrissy’s responses to such speculations decades ago were right on the moneh: playing against John (her husband) Lloyd, she wouldn’t have won a single point! the best woman player in the world, multiply tested: not one point!!
later Tuesday afternoon
Wow, Mac got a lot of people’s goat. Now he’s said he wished that men and women did compete together: then we’d “know”; “We wouldn’t have to guess!”
Whatever John’s point; that’s my point: Guessing is all we’re allowed because myth is involved. Vested interest.
It’s too late to test the past; but we could try to figure out how to test the future: next Wimbledon women’s champ: schedule her against the men, figure her place: then, Always test.
Or, don’t: but then admit that you don’t want to know.
Knowledge isn’t easy, but some knowledge ought to be possible: at least more possible than it’s been.
2017 09 21 Way back memory:
I was just watching a doc with guys surfing in Scotland amid snow: and I remember first seeing Tne Endless Summer, so great, wonderful. and I’m reminded of a surfing profile from that period: California surfer gal explained why she wore a long pony tale. She explained that as a proud sufer gal she wanted her gender to be telegraphed at a distance: because if anyone mistook her for a guy they would think she was lousy! Bless that girl. That was the 1960s. Glad to be remembering you, gal: I love you.
I love women. I love athletic women. I love funny women. Just in the last couple of weeks I’ve been gaga over Jessie Graff, the marvelous stuntwoman. Search YouTube.
Something related has been assaulting me on YouTube: clips of Jason Statham as a NARC among meth-cooking rednecks, you know, something like witness protection, he’s living in disguise: some fat ugly stupid bully, that is, a male, fails to intimidate the NARC daughter, Maddie. It’s ridiculous, it doesn’t correspond to the world: Holywood having no idea of reality. Do men ever bully women? Certainly they do, regularly, but distinguish extortion from harem building. Bulls don’t butt heads with the females; they fuck the females and butt heads with the candidate males.
2018 04 05 Here it is again, some tennis illiterate wants to know how Serena, the best woman player ever, would fare against Roger Federer, the best male player ever. Uh, scuse me, what makes the inquirer so sure that those estimates would stand up to testing. It’s all speculation. But let me insert a consideration:
When Fed plays Nadal he’s trying his best. Why should we suppose he’d be playing his best against Serena? ! He’s a genleman: he would NOT being trying his best. I think he’d allow himself to win, but only be a hair.
But wait a minute? Why should we supposed Serena would be playing her best? Aren’t woman taught from the cradle to lay down for men? You see Matina fighting that training. You see Ellen Degeneres acting like she’s graduated from that training!
Now what I want to see is Serena with a broadsword against Joan of Arc with a broadsword: Achilles with a bronze sword against Jack Johnson or Babe Ruth.
scrap from first draft,
2017 06 26 -27
John McEnroe called Serena Williams one of the greatest athletes he’s ever seen. He ameded that to The greatest female tennis players, etc. Now Mac says that if she played on the men’s tour she’d be ranked maybe 700th. That’s very good: has any female player ever been likely to do better than that? It’s a surprise only to those who don’t know or understand a thing about it.
I’m reminded of an interview with Chrissie Everett from decades ago, she was married to tennis player John Lloyd at the time. Lloyd was a pro but was wasn’t top dozen or two. An interviewer asked Chrissie how she’s fare if whe played singles against her husband. “I wouldn’t win a single point,” Chrissie answered.
No. She was just the best female player in the world. The best.
And we fans loved her.
PS Would Chrissie have been around 700 among the men? I doubt it. That’s Serena’s accomplishment.
And of course she would have shellacked Bobby Riggs, the conning old drunk. But until it can be quantified, tested, it’s just bullshit. And “Bobby Riggs” isn’t a real test: he was the top male pro once upon a time, a long time ago. That was tested, quantified. But tests would have to be regular, and unregulated, that is not regulated by church or crown, to be rationally meaningful. I like to see Serena, at her best, say age twenty-five, tested against the top males, the top several hundred males, for lots of money, before we judge whether “700” is a compliment or an insult. I read it as a compliment, but what do I know? same as Mac knows: next to nothing.
There was a story today right on the money where Mrs. Mac said to John Why don’t you and I play mixed doubles together at Wimpledon. Johm replied, But you’re not a tennis player! She responded, “Exactly.”
You need a tradition of quantification, continuous testing.
I’m also reminded of the days when Nixon’s White House was accusing Times journalists of being “self-appointed.” An actual Times journalist mocked, “Hello, I’d like to appoint myself Nixon-critic at the New York Times“!
No, the jounalists are hired and promoted by the editors who are hired and promoted by the owners who are hired and promoted by the advertizers, the university journalism departments. … Right, Mrs. Mac, exactly, you don’t just walk into Wimbledon and appoint yourself to the qualies, then to the final sixteen …
If Mac is right, and Serena would really be able to play @ 700+-, then where would Martina fit? and where Martina Hingis? and where Margaret Court? Evonne … If there are really difference between males adn females let us know rationally what they are, and not by court of no-data-allowed.
I would really like it if your average fan could instantly retort, Yeah, Serena can play at 700; could Martina have played anywhere near 700? or Hingis or Suzanne Lenglen?
PS I was able to track down pix of the divine Suzanne Lenglan because since age 15, wandering MOMA, I’ve been a huge fan of her cousin, Jacques Henri Lartigue.