Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Birdsong Is The Best Color Commentary

Photo: Alex Grimm (Getty)

Tennis itself produces good sounds, but it is not always surrounded by good sounds. That’s because tennis happens all over the world, and not always in some majestic tucked-away corner of it. In Paris and Rome, to take just two recent examples, the on-court action is occasionally soundtracked by the faraway wail of police sirens and ambulances. The reality of crimes and dying intrude on the sanctity of the tennis-viewing experience. Often the sirens drone in for minutes at a time, offering an unpleasant distraction (though maybe it’s siren song to Rafa’s opponents at Roland Garros, who might prefer a stretcher to the rest of the match). Even the venues that don’t struggle with urban sound pollution often blast nightmarish family-friendly EDM during changeovers to rile up the tennis demographic, something like tipping a tiny shaker of cayenne into a vat of mayonnaise. And sometimes there are sex sounds.

If you’re watching a broadcast, the sounds of play are further disrupted by the sound of commentators sitting in the booth, straining to expel an insight.


But the Stuttgart Open has a solution to all this: either they enjoy a vibrant and highly vocal bird population in this fertile agricultural valley of southwestern Germany, especially on this sun-soaked Friday afternoon; or they just straight-up pump bird sounds into the stadium. I honestly don’t even care which is the truth. Birdsong and sunlight on green grass make for a maximally pastoral sports experience. It puts me at ease. It complements the rallies. Especially when the commentators recede into the background, and let the sounds of the game and the maybe-fake fauna do the work:

If there are any ornithologists or birders reading this, I welcome your takes. Anyway, as my colleague Shep points out, the log-cabin ump chair and grassy seat covers also contribute to the wonderfully kitschy rustic Disneyland-style tennis ambiance, a nice contrast to the starchy Wimbledon decorum. Shout out to the Stuttgart Open for managing to make a Nick Kyrgios match a soothing experience. He plays Roger Federer in the semifinal tomorrow.

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