Sportsbiztech

Sports, business & technology

Even more exclusive than the All-England Club itself

Roger Federer at the 2007 Sony Ericsson OpenThis June, I will embark on an excellent European adventure that will culminate with, hopefully, watching Roger Federer dominate the field at the lone Grand Slam major that I have yet to attend: Wimbledon.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see crazy fans impersonate their favorite players at the Australian Open, join in the swooping whistles at the French and cover the U.S. Open a number of times as a writer for various publications. So I figured, why not consider attending the All-England’s Club grand event via that last method?

Well, the esteemed grasscourt event is as exclusive as the players’ all-white dress code it enforces. Wimbledon, it turns out, is the only one of the four Grand Slams that explicitly states on its Web site that it does not welcome online journalists. According to its media accreditation rules, the tournament does “not grant accreditation to journalists writing solely for the internet [sic].” Furthermore, if I want more information on the accreditation process itself, I can’t send an e-mail (fittingly). I have to call or fax!

The U.S. Open seems to be the most receptive when it comes to granting credentials to online journos, having stepped up their efforts to include cyber scribes a couple of years ago. The French Open is a bit more ambiguous, saying that press “passes are for written press, radio and television but now also for photographers.” Oh, so they weren’t for photographers before? They do have a special Intranet site for journalists, which is an upgrade from all the photocopied score sheets and press conference transcripts provided at the U.S. Open. It was impossible to find any info on either the Australian Open or Tennis Australia sites, although somehow I doubt that a ban would be in place considering that http://www.ausopen.org has an entire section highlighting technology at the Australian Open.

The real shame of it is, according to Hitwise UK, online searches for all things tennis — be it “Wimbledon” or “tennis rackets” – spikes when Wimbledon is in session. The company, which measures Internet consumer behavior around the world, does note that while traffic to tennis-related subjects increases during this two-week period, overall the trend is declining year after year. So wouldn’t Wimbledon benefit from a bit of online love?

That’s okay, though. Something tells me that I’ll have more fun queuing and bonding with fans in the early mornings for tickets…in the rain.

On second thought…

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March 21, 2008 - Posted by | journalism, tennis | , ,

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