Our previous Improbable article in this series examined the use of placebos – we now look at grunting. Though several sports tolerate (or even encourage) grunting as part of normal play, some have complained that it can be used as a deliberate and unfair distraction of one’s opponent(s). With regard to tennis for example, see: A Preliminary Investigation Regarding the Effect of Tennis Grunting: Does White Noise During a Tennis Shot Have a Negative Impact on Shot Perception? by S Sinnett, A Kingstone – PloS one, 2010.
“There is a growing chorus of critics who complain that many of the top-ranked professional tennis players who grunt when they hit the ball gain an unfair advantage because the sound of the grunt interferes with their opponent’s game.
Our data suggest that a grunting player has a competitive edge on the professional tennis tour.“
Although the global tennis authorities don’t (as far as Improbable can ascertain) have any specific rules relating to the distractions of grunting, some local associations have crafted their own code of conduct. See for example rule 36 of the Newbury and District Lawn Tennis Association, UK [.doc format]
“36. Grunting. A player should avoid grunting and making other loud noises. Grunting and other loud noises may bother not only opponents but also players on adjacent courts. In an extreme case, an opponent or a player on an adjacent court may seek the assistance of the Referee or a Roving Umpire. The Referee or official may treat grunting and the making of loud noises as a hindrance. Depending upon the circumstance, this could result in a let or loss of point. “
This concludes our short Improbable series on how to ‘cheat’ at sport without really ‘cheating’.
Bonus assignment [optional]: In which (if any) of the following competitive sports/games should grunting be banned? [give reasons].
•Pole vault •Curling• Synchronized swimming •Chess •Shooting •Golf •Tiddlywinks •Dressage