Monday, July 9, 2012

Tennis Scoring is Hella Weird

Wimbeldon is fantastic. I get sucked in most years, although I was a bit bummed this year since the time difference meant I wasn't able to watch much of it (although Erika and I did see some when we were in Jervis Bay - see below). I've been watching it since I was a kid... and I still don't understand why they score it the way they do. Shouldn't this be easy to work out in today's age of knowledge-at-the-fingertips internet? Nope, not here.

Scoring in tennis: Love, 15, 30, 40. Tie at 40 and it's Deuce. Score and you have Advantage, score again and you win, otherwise it's back to Deuce for you.

What? Is there another sport on the planet that uses a word instead of a number?

Commentator 1:  Well Jim, that was quite the touchdown.

Commentator 2:  You bet Bob. That puts them up 12 to Horseradish. Gonna be tough to dig themselves out of that hole.

Commentator 1:  You can say that again Jim.

In a quest to determine the origins of this bizarre scoring system I resorted to the internet. It appears as though there's two competing theories. Why are there more than one? Shouldn't it be common knowledge within the world of tennis why their scoring works this way? Nope. Regardless, the one thing everyone agrees on is that it's French. You can insert your own joke here.

THEORY A: The Clock-Face
Yes, this idea revolves around the idea that they used a gigantic clock to do the scoring, thus the 15, 30, 45... once around and you win the game. Except that they use 40, not 45. That was so they could do the whole Deuce thing by making it 40, then 50, then... WHY ARE YOU USING A CLOCK TO SCORE YOUR SPORT? Am I insane for thinking this is the most ridiculous idea in the world? Numbers were invented 5000 years ago, just use those! Kids playing H.O.R.S.E. with a basketball use a more logical system than incorporating a clock into your sport in any way that doesn't involve "keeping time". Let's move on.

THEORY B: The Jeu de Paume Argument
This one makes so much more sense than Theory A that I don't even know why Theory A exists.
It goes like this: There's this French sport called jeu de paume that tennis came from; it kind of looks like barehanded tennis. Each player started 45 feet from the net. Win a point and you move 15 feet closer. Win again and you get another 15 feet. One more point and you only get 10 feet, because now you're 5 feet from the net.

How is Theory A even on the table at this point? Everything about Theory B totally explains the scoring in a perfectly logical and coherent manner. I'm officially putting Theory A to bed. Attention Clock Theory supporters: You are now officially lumped in with people who don't think NASA put a man on the moon, that Obama wasn't born in Hawaii, or who think fluoride is a mind-control substance the government puts in the water.

None of this, of course, explains the use of the term "Love" to indicate zero. Here's the theories on that riddle:

This is based on the idea that the word "Love" sounds like l'oef, aka the French word for egg. Because, y'know, a zero looks like an egg. Why on earth would you opt to use a word that looks like the number instead of the word that means the number?

Commentator 1:  GOOOOAAAAAAAL!!!

Commentator 2:  That was absolutely incredible Bob! Really fantastic. With that goal the score is now Sideways Mickey Ears - Pencil, and I think that in getting up by a Swan they've really put this game out of reach.

THEORY N: The Hour
This says that it's because Love sounds like l'heure, or "Hour", instead of egg. Thus, according to Theory A (the clock face), you are "on the hour" at the start of a game. This sounds more reasonable than the egg theory, but has to be ruled out anyway because we already know that Theory A is only for conspiracy theorists.

One more note on Theories M and N. The French refer to "Love" as Zéro. In case you don't speak French, that's "Zero" in English. Sooo... yeah. If the French don't say egg or hour, and instead use the actual number, I'm not sure why these theories exist in the first place.

THEORY O: The Dutch
Somehow it's been proposed that the the Dutch are responsible in that Love comes from "iets voor lof doen", which apparently means "to do something for praise, implying no monetary stakes". This argument makes not even a shred of sense, and I can only assume it appeared in Europe at roughly the same time opium did.

THEORY P: Let's Hug It Out
This one says that at the start of the game the players still have love for each other. In short, we don't have any idea why they use the word "Love". Every idea is equally bizarre.

I have additional  theories on the term "Deuce", but I'll keep them to myself. I'm trying to reduce the number of bathroom references in this blog.

Erika and I went down to Jervis Bay and saw kangaroos:

I know this looks fun and all, but look at the freaking claws on that kangaroo! Seriously folks, a kangaroo can eff you up. Not only does it have the wicked werewolf claws in the front, but also the mean-ass single, long claw on its hind legs that I can only assume are for disemboweling foolish children. I think kangaroos are secretly meat-eaters.

They look fun when they're hopping though:

It was a good time.


  1. First the Internet can't tell me the hearing range of moose, and now this. Why the hell did they even bother inventing the Internet?

    Also, those kangaroos are pretty damn cute. Almost cute enough to make me feel guilty that I found a place in North Van that sells kangaroo steaks and will likely eat one. Almost.

    Also, this is the word verification I just got while trying to post this: I think the Internet is mad at me for slagging on it.

  2. The irony being that if you actually typed that it would deny you, therefore only robots are morons. In your face, Internet!