Sunday, December 2, 2007

From Competition to Exhibition: “Dead Rubbers” Fulfill the Three-Day Pass

Imagine in the World Series after the winning team sweeps the series in game four and celebrates on the field and in the clubhouse, they returned to play games five, six and seven just for the hell of it.

That’s essentially what the Davis Cup does. Although the U.S. won the tie yesterday by winning the first three duels, two more meaningless singles matches will be played today. The USTA sold only three-day passes, so they have obligations to meet. The biggest event will be the U.S. team posing with the trophy, a colossal piece of hardware that must run up one hell of a shipping bill.

The matches played after the tie is decided are known by the highly questionable term “dead rubbers,” a phrase that could serve as excellent inspiration for many jokes that are unfit for a family friendly blog such as this one. Speaking of terminology, the description of the competition as a “tie” is peculiar and confusing to all but the most seasoned of Davis Cup fans. Can’t we let go of this semantic tradition and simply call it a team match like every other tennis team in leagues across the country do? A USTA official said that "tie" was chosen by the International Tennis Federation to distinguish the overall competitions from the individual matches, but there has to be a better name. (The term rubber comes from cricket, apparently.)