Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY


July 5, 2013

Even the All England Club changes

GLASGOW — Wimbledon isn’t what it used to be. They have a roof that can be closed so that games can continue even if the typical London weather blows in. (That weather always brings rain.)

The roof over Centre Court has been in place for a few years, but only became widely used during last year’s annual event at the All England Club. Since not many Americans have been showing up on the final weekend of the world’s most famous tennis tournament, not many Americans, it seems, have been tuned into the event. (Must admit, I haven’t watched much in recent years and had no idea who the top players were this year, outside of Serena Williams. What really sparked interest was that so many of the top players were knocked out early, which inspired the desire to see what was happening in the world of tennis.)

In the world of sports as in the world of everything else, change is inevitable and usually that change is a good thing. Consider the Chicago Cubs can play night games even if some do not remember that they fought the idea for many years after other Major League Baseball clubs had made the transition. Wrigley Field, their home field, was the last MLB field to have lights.

“At 6:05 p.m., 91-year-old Cubs fan Harry Grossman began the countdown. ‘Three ... two ... one ... Let there be lights!’ Grossman pressed a button, and to the cheers of thousands of fans, six light towers flickered to life. Night baseball had come to Wrigley Field,” wrote Phil Vettell for the Chicago Tribune. “It had taken six years of arguing, cajoling and bluffing to bring lights to Wrigley, which for years had been the only major league baseball park where night games could not be played. When then-general manager Dallas Green first proposed installing lights in 1982, many neighborhood residents took up the cause of keeping the field dark. Largely because of their efforts, the Illinois General Assembly and the Chicago City Council passed legislation that effectively banned night games (a grandfather clause excluded Comiskey Park, which had had lights since 1939).”

An eventual city ordinance allowed for 18 night games, beginning with the one on Aug. 8, 1988. That game did not go in the books because it was cancelled due to rain. The first official night game was the following night.

The lights have not helped the Cubs win a World Series, but they do get plenty of prime time TV viewers.

As with all things, change is a comin’ and the question is always going to be, “Are we prepared?” Andy Murray won Friday and is into the Wimbledon final.

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