Giving tennis more than a shot

Davis Cup – The Lack Of Respect (And Judgement) Of Tennis Canada

Forgive me for being again tonight utterly opinionated and resolutely (French) Canadian. Circumstances… I’ll get back to my usual cheerful tennis-loving self, getting ready for the ATP World Tour Finals and then getting ready for the Davis Cup finals (and cheering for Argentina), after that, I promise. But right now, I am just an indignant Canadian with French ancestors due to the ads that were revealed at the same time as the announcement that the Canada – France first-round Davis Cup would be held in Vancouver was made.


Indignant is, actually, quite a weak word to describe my reaction to this ad campaign from Tennis Canada, of which you can read a little more in this article from the Vancouver Sun. Although of a little bit of a juvenile humour, the ad featuring Vasek Pospisil is a bit funny. The one featuring Milos Raonic, on the other hand, really isn’t.


Here’s what is says: “Hey France, I’ve got a 151 m.p.h. serve. Try returning that with a baguette.”


This is a complete lack of respect from Tennis Canada towards the opponent, as well as a gesture that spreads a stereotype towards the French that triggers the old prejudice and rivalry French – English that has been in existence ever since Canada exists. And to me, it is intolerable.


Yes, everyone knows about the French stereotype. Well, it is only a stereotype and it is not something that actually exists. Why spread such an image of Canada’s Davis Cup rivals, Tennis Canada?


At the same time, a good proportion of Canada’s population has French roots, and there are a lot of French immigrants in the country. Did they think about it? I don’t think so. If they did, they obviously didn’t care.


And that kind of gesture is, in my mind, completely unacceptable. Isn’t tennis a gentlemanly sport? Where’s the gentlemanly conduct in those ads? I cannot see it and I am very disappointed to see that such an institution as Tennis Canada can stoop that low in order to promote an event, and all in the name of a so-called “patriotism”. It is one thing to try and boost the chances of a team by playing in a 4,500 seats sports centre in a time zone 9 hours away from where the rival team is from (although questionable, these guys are professionals and are used to such travelling issues, plus they’ll be there days ahead anyway). It is, however, a whole other matter making a publicity campaign that not only insults the rival, but also a good part of the country’s population.


By doing so, Tennis Canada will ensure that a good proportion of French Canadians will end up rooting for France during the tie. And I will be one of those Canadian-born French speaking individuals who, from February 10-12, will be chanting “Allez les Bleus!” from the comfort of my living room.


My most sincere apologies to Vasek Pospisil, Daniel Nestor and Milos Raonic, as well as whoever will be chosen to be the fourth man of the Canadian squad. I respect you, and like watching you play (a lot), but I cannot accept that my roots can be thus insulted in the name of a so-called patriotism. You made me live great moments in Davis Cup this year, but hey, I’m French Canadian, with, like a lot of folk from my province, French ancestors, and that publicity campaign is too much. Politics have no place in sport.


  1. Tatiana Tatiana
    16 November, 2011    

    “bordering on racism”

    What? No. “French” is not a race, it’s a nationality. It may be offensive, but this is in no way, shape or form at all “bordering on racism.”

  2. 16 November, 2011    

    I’ve heard too many things about the “maudits Français” (and been called a “effing frog” far too often) not to consider it as such.

  3. Tatiana Tatiana
    16 November, 2011    

    noun /ˈrāˌsizəm/ 

    The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races

    I was born in France–do the French have some kind of specific physical characteristic where, if you saw me walking down the street in jeans and a t-shirt without hearing me speaking, you could immediately identify me as French? No, you’d just see a tall, brunette caucasian girl.

    Come on, now. French is a nationality. Call it prejudice or discrimination, but it’s not racism. If this was aimed specifically at the black French players then you would have a case, but it’s not. It’s a joke about typical French bread, there is really nothing at all offensive about it and I honestly do not see the outrage here. Not something that exists? Have you ever been to France? We eat baguettes all the time. As a kid I had them for breakfast with jam or dipped in hot chocolate, it’s very normal here. You go to the USA and say “Try returning that with your hamburger” or whatever is a typical American dish. You know baguette is used in tennis interchangeably with breadstick, right? Especially at Roland Garros and Bercy.

    You are creating Mount Everest out of an anthill here. Are you really offended by a piece of bread?

  4. 16 November, 2011    

    I am offended by a stereotype that doesn’t have its place in an advertising/publicity campaign regarding an event that regards a sports of gentlemen.

    You don’t see such advertising in the other ties, where gross stereotypical traits are used to emphasise a rivalry in an absolutely doubtful humour. All the contrary: all those I’ve seen were made in great respect of the rival.

    And as there is a huge problem franco – anglo here in Canada, it was not the thing to do on their part. Lack of judgement.

    You’re allowed to disagree with what I say but I will keep on thinking it. 😉

  5. Tatiana Tatiana
    16 November, 2011    

    I don’t think it’s a gross stereotypical trait–it isn’t like doing the British stereotype of bad teeth, or that typical French people are haughty/French women are hairy, etc. It’s a recognised French food, tennis racquet = baguette, but like you said, we agree to disagree :)

  6. 16 November, 2011    

    Yeah, that we do! :)

    But as I said, the background here is really not appropriate to make such an advertisement. Especially considering that Montreal was discarded because it is “too French”.

    That was just the last straw, so to speak.

    And hey, I do use baguette instead of breadstick when referring to a 6-1 score. 😛

    But the background of what’s going on in Canada since forever is the reason I used the term you didn’t like in the first place. But hey, I’ll compromise and I’ll go rephrase. :)

  7. andydandy andydandy
    17 November, 2011    

    The discussion is interesting.
    I’m French too, and have been living in Paris for 21 years. I would not call it racism, partly because racism allegations annoy me.

    However there is something astonishing about that campaign. Apart from not being very funny (and that’s an understatement), it is the only one I have seen, among all countries, that puts forward the rivalry instead of the game.

    In other countries, the players are the headlines. People are eager to see high ranked players fight it off. It is weird to transform that into a matter of teasing and provoking.

    And since I don’t live in Canada I have no take on the tension that surrounds the double culture there. But all in all it’s not racism, it’s not schocking. It’s simply thick, and a little misguided on Tennis Canada’s behalf.

  8. 17 November, 2011    

    @ andydandy

    Funny how you Frenchmen take it better than us French Canadians. But I think that the context here makes why we are a little, if not a lot, indignant. Because we’ve lived in those franco-anglo tensions for like ever. So them doing so was really a big lack of judgement in that regard, too.

    And like you mention, the other countries rely on the respect of the opponent, the joy at knowing that big guns from their and the other countries will square it off in order to get closer to the finish line. You don’t see that kind of silly promotion because, all in all, they respect the opponent.

    Doesn’t make the crowds less loud!

  9. pierric pierric
    22 November, 2011    

    If the baguette is old enough I’m sure they could easily return the serve.

No Pings Yet

  1. Davis Cup – The Lack Of Respect (And Judgement) Of Tennis … | The Tennis News on 16 November, 2011 at 21:06
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  3. Davis Cup – The Lack Of Respect (And Judgement) Of Tennis … « Tennis Community on 17 November, 2011 at 13:48
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