Fair of Foul?

In all types of sports there are rules designed to determine "who wins."

In implementing these rules officials are often called to make decisions, and much like court decisions, that is the final say. Whether the decisions in such cases are "fair" or "foul" usually is viewed in terms of whether they favor one's team or not.

There is also an entirely different "fair" or "foul" set of problems in sports and that is the method used to determine who wins.

In most cases it is simple, who finished first in a race, who took the fewest shots in golf, etc.

For some sports the system is rather strange. Take for instance tennis which is the subject of a piece in today's Washington Post. The winner is not necessarily the one who scores the most points. Is that fair?

Similarly, in baseball playoffs or the World Series, the team that scores the most runs wins an individual game but the team that scores the most runs might still lose the series. Fair or foul?

This really brings up the question of whether fair and foul have any real meaning or simply apply in a given set of circumstances.


Sometimes the definitions of humans fail to take into account that we are the "counting" animal, an essential attribute from which "scoring" is derived. And since we are not perfect animals, our counting and scoring sometimes goes awry. "Wells Fargo", for example" recently announced that they they just found 1.5 million more fraudulently accounts that they had opened and failed to count in their initial investigation. Also, both the Tennis judges and the players sometimes get the score wrong. So errors do happen.

The article did well to point out the arcane nature of scoring in tennis, but failed to mention one feature that stumps many newcomers to the game: Love. I do not pretend, as some do, that the early history of tennis scoring is well known, for speculation is rife. That said, I will proffer an interpretation of "love" as a scoring term in tennis. So, basically in today's tennis games, when the score is said to be 40-love, 30-love, 15-love, this is = to saying 40-0, 30-0, etc. That part is clear, but why use the word love instead of the # 0? Well, way back in perhaps the 15th century, when French(wouldn't you know it) monks would play a game with some similarity to tennis in an open courtyard during their break periods, they somehow introduced the French word "Oeuf" to represent zero while stating the score of their game. "Oeuf" is the French word for "egg" and eggs visually resemble the O shape that we use to this day on scoreboards---hence, "there are nothing but goose eggs on the scoreboard so far today". But how did "Oeuf" become the word "Love"? As tennis gradually transitioned from France to England, the French pronunciation of oeuf, which does have some similarities to the pronunciation of the english love, was mispronounced repeatedly until it became love, as we know it today.So if you happen to tune into the TV coverage of the US Open Tennis tournament today you'll know what "love" means, and perhaps you can Tweet one of the commentators and see if they know it's origin. Now if only these English speaking commentators would pronounce the player's names correctly.

Fair and Foul and Circumstances: In some Pre-Columbian cultures there was a ball game played where the winner was, I believe, killed after the game as a sacrifice to the gods. Some trophy. And what of Pyrrhic Victories?

Je vous remerice pour cette explication excellente.

Je ne savais pas du tout que les moines avaient fait cela. A mon avis , c'est peu connu ce fait.

C'est vrai que l'habit fait le moine, mais jouer avec des oeufs? C'est autre chose, je crois..