Towel policies are controversial? Quick observations of the 2020 US Open

No, you didn’t read that wrong.


The 2020 US Open kicked off on Monday, like most sports in 2020, with little to no fanfare. Both literally and figuratively.

With the continuing pandemic of COVID-19 reigning over all of us, sports continue to plow onward and adapt themselves. Capitalism sure looks ugly in a pandemic, wouldn’t you say?

But this is not a time for me to get into that. We’re here to talk sports, and in my case, more specifically, we’re here to talk obscure sporting events that used to be cool and are now sort of “meh” to all but the die-hards.

As I was perusing the scores and updates this morning, this headline from ESPN caught my eye: “To towel or not to towel? That is the 2020 US Open question.” Now, you can read the article here and discover that this is, in fact, a fantastic discussion regarding the disruptions to player routines and game play at the US Open. It also goes over how this year, the ATP Tour has begun enforcing shot clock violations, which has many players up in arms about how they get from point-to-point.

For those of you who aren’t as up on tennis as I am, don’t worry. Here’s a quick fact: players are allowed 25 seconds between points. Like that of the NBA, the shot clock begins counting immediately after the umpire calls the score. This is why the umpires will sometimes wait after long points or crowd excitement to call the score and restore order.

But if that’s not a clickbaity headline in a time when we should be focusing purely on the matches being played, I don’t know what is.

COVID-19 has changed everything in our lives, including how sports and personal items are managed within these specific events. Color-coded towel boxes, social distancing, testing, ad nauseam. And for the players, there’s just as much of an adjustment to their in-game life as there is to their regular life. However, getting lost in the weeds of competition in a time of COVID-19 seems short-sighted to me.

There is some great stuff happening on the hardcourt right now. However, it’s being overshadowed while players like Novak Djokovic (never one who’s known for keeping his cool or his voice down) whine and complain about restrictions, shot clock violations, and #allthethings.

Andy Murray, the 2012 US Open Men’s Champion, was ousted yesterday. After his first-round win on Tuesday, this was his second Grand Slam match in over 20 months. Murray, who is 33 years old, is returning from a pair of hip surgeries, including having his hip replaced. While this is undoubtedly a disappointment for the Scot, he was on the verge of retiring last year, so he’ll take it, I’m sure.

On the women’s side, the No. 1-seed Karolina Pliskova has been bounced from the tournament in straight sets by 50th-ranked Caroline Garcia. Granted, Pliskova was the No. 1 seed after the world 1 & 2 players declined to participate in the 2020 tournament due to COVID-19, but it is what it is. Either way, watching the top seed on the women’s side get handily tossed out of the tournament in the second round sets things up nicely for what’s to come.

For example, we’ve got a fantastic match-up on the women’s side with 2019 runner-up (and six-time US Open Champion) Serena Williams facing Sloane Stephens (2017 US Open Champ). This will be the seventh time these two face one another and should make for a fantastic display of women’s tennis.

While both the defending champions from 2019 opted against participating this year, the 2020 US Open is still entertaining as hell. Just leave the towels out of it, everyone, ‘kay?

Bio: Ashley Ragland doesn’t want to hear any flak about how a SoCal native can love the Red Sox and Patriots as much as she does. For more thoughts and opinions on life, sports, and everything in between, you can find her on Twitter (@ashleyragland14) and Instagram (@ashleykate314).

Photo Courtesy: USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center

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