Friday, June 27, 2014

Oh boy! Now they're called 'ball kids': PC brigade invade Centre Court as young helpers are renamed

For decades, they have been as much a part of Wimbledon as Pimm’s, strawberries and queuing.

But it seems ball boys are on the brink  of extinction – at least as far as the  commentators are concerned.

In a sign that political correctness has reached the courts of Wimbledon, the traditional ‘ball boys’ and ‘ball girls’ are being replaced with the rather more modern ‘ball kids’.

Sue Barker twice used the description on BBC1 yesterday as she reported on the Duchess of Cornwall meeting ‘ball kids’ during her visit to the tournament. And despite the All England Club insisting it had no plans to stop using the term ball boys, its official Wimbledon website also described how Camilla had greeted a ‘row of ball kids’.

It follows repeated use of the ‘ball kids’ expression during BBC 5 Live’s coverage of the recent French Open.



Anonymous said...

Well I really don't know about this. Ball. Doesn't that have connotations of male dominance? And kids? Really, the goat community might find that offensive.
I suggest "orb chasers of indeterminate age and gender identification." There, a future problem narrowly averted.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but this kerfuffle about the term "ball kids" is as bad as those who want to change terms to be PC.

When describing a group of boys and girls, I have no problem with the term "kids."

No one is forcing the term on anyone. No one is saying "you have to describe 'ball boys' as 'ball kids.'"

The only difference is that there are some who have gone from saying "ball boys and ball girls" to the shorter term "ball kids."

Big deal.

This is not a issue worthy of "Tongue Tied."

Jerry Doctor said...

Anonymous (4:29) -

I've got to disagree. The people that are attempting to change the names of things because they have decided the old terms are offensive very definitely want to force their terminology on the rest of us. Since they are not yet allowed to legislate such changes they are forced to settle for using the media to make their preferred names main stream. This might not keep you from calling them "ball boys" but your children won't. And with a little bit of luck, maybe you'll change too rather than subject yourself to ridicule.

Anytime we are talking about people attempting to change the behavior of society because THEY have decided that OTHER PEOPLE should be offended, that is definitely an issue worthy of Tongue Tied.

Anonymous said...

Jerry Doctor,

I (the former Anonymous 4:29) have no problem with you disagreeing. However, I am not sure your assertions line up with what is happening in this case.

Your first assertion is:

The people that are attempting to change the names of things because they have decided the old terms are offensive very definitely want to force their terminology on the rest of us.

I totally agree. But is that what happened here? According to the cited article, the answer is "no."

‘There is no official BBC policy on this and it is often dependent on how much time a commentator has to describe a situation rather than an intentional or required use of either.’


A Wimbledon spokesman was adamant that it had no plans to stop using the phrases ‘ball boys’ and ‘ball girls’.

There is no "force" being applied and no decision that "old terms are offensive."

So why the change?

First, language changes over time. There are going to be changes that are mandated by the PC police which we should fight back against, and changes that are evolutionary which we should examine within ourselves. (Was the change from "that the cat's meow" to "that's cool" mandated by PETA?)

The change made by some is because of convenience:

Commentators are said to find it less cumbersome than saying ‘ball boys and ball girls’, and snappier than ‘ball children’.

To be fair, there is also this from the article:

Tennis sponsors are also helping the drive to eradicate the traditional ball boy by increasingly using the new phrase.

Frankly, since you have "mixed crews" of boys and girls on the court, to say "ball boys" is factually wrong. Or, if you had a crew of all girls, to say "the ball boys are distributing new tennis balls during the break," would be factually wrong.

I would ask you if your daughter was out there in the heat chasing balls down and striving to be invisible, would you want her described as a "ball boy?"

If the drive is away from calling a male on the court a "ball boy," I would be with you. That's not what is happening. If the drive was to stop calling a female child on the court a "ball girl," I would be with you.

However, from the article is seems that the commentators (and others) have chosen to use the term "ball kids" when describing a group of the children - both boys and girls - on the court. (Notice how there is no mention of "ball kid." It is always plural as in describing a groups of children.)

In short, I don't think this is worthy of Tongue Tied because no one is forcing anything on anyone, the term is more accurate when describing a mixed group of kids, and the term is faster and more convenient when describing the group (as opposed to "ball boys and ball girls" or "ball children.")

Bird of Paradise said...

PC just another word for STUPID LIBERALS

Jerry Doctor said...

Anonymous (8:44)

I'll concede you have a reasonable argument, but...

Something about camels and their noses.

Anonymous said...


I will concede the argument of camels, tents and noses.

I hope that you will also consider Chicken Little and the sky.

I just don't see this incident as a case of PC-itis, or whatever you want to call it. There are real cases of real censorship and political correctness out there. I don't see this as one of those cases.

Go Away Bird said...

So when will we finaly see some Common Sense like Thomas Payne once wrote about when will they finaly get the assilum back from the inmates?