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Memo to Benoit Paire — Talk Is Cheap

Matt Zemek



Danielle Parhizkaran - USA TODAY SPORTS

The weekly parade of tennis tournaments, tennis matches, tennis practices, and all the flights or train rides which carry players and journalists from one city to another, produces an avalanche of spoken and transcribed material. Most athletes would prefer to live in a world where they never have to talk to reporters or commentators, but part of the life of a professional athlete is to represent him/herself before the press, to give a public accounting of a career. The organized tours and the sport at large depend on players being available to media outlets so that tennis (like any other sport) can be publicized and draw more eyeballs on television and more bodies in seats. Higher TV rights fees and more tickets sold enable a sport to remain in business. This keeps prize money at a reasonable (if not more-than-reasonable) level.

Media availability feeds into economic prosperity.

So it is, then, that athletes wind up uttering many thousands of words to the press each year.

In that vast sea of words, one must constantly ask: Which words are worth paying attention to, and which words don’t mean jack squat?

Here, below, is an example of the latter category:

A professional athlete can talk all he wants about having changed, having become a new man. An athlete can claim to have turned the corner or figured it out. He can insist that things are different now, that he stands on more solid ground than before.

Yet, until the athlete conclusively proves that a change has in fact occurred, this is all wasted breath, wasted time, wasted tape recorder space, wasted transcribing effort. It is energy without meaning, sound without substance, vocal utterances utterly bereft of heft.

It is Benoit Paire after he didn’t really give a fire truck — again — on a tennis court. He bowed out of Montpellier with a 6-2, 6-0 no-show against Tomas Berdych in which French fans at the Open de Sud booed him.

Talk is cheap. Actions matter a lot more.

Nothing else needs to be said at this point about Paire. Think of this as a Paired-down article which didn’t need to continue for several hundred more words.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.