Tag Archives: tennis

Ethics Quiz: Martina Navratilova’s “Open Letter”

Court the tennis icon (right); Court the anti-gay rights advocate (left)

Martina Navratilova, the 18-time tennis Grand Slam champion, wrote an “open letter”  to the Margaret Court Arena at Melbourne Park (Do arenas read letters? I did not know that!) as the Australian Open, always played there, looms in January. Navratilova, a feminist and gay rights activists, argued for removing Court’s name from the venue, despite her undeniable status as a ground-breaking female tennis star, because of Court’s recent statements  hostile to gay marriage, lesbians, and the transgendered.

In the letter, which is as diplomatic and mild as such a letter could possibly be (and Martina has always been an excellent writer), Navratilova says that her position is not based on Court’s “headline-grabbing comments in 1990 when she said I was a bad role model because I was a lesbian.” However, Navratilova focused on Court’s “statements she made in the ’70s about apartheid in South Africa,” in which she opined that ” South Africa dealt with the “situation” (meaning people of colour) much better than anywhere else in the world, particularly the US,”  and, more recently, her anti-gay, anti-trans positions. The 74-year-old  Court had said she would boycott Qantas airline “where possible” in response to its support of same-sex marriage, saying, “I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible.” This week, interviewed on  a Christian radio station, Court said “tennis is full of lesbians” and that older players lure younger ones into gay sex. Court also said that transgender children are the work of “the devil.”

Concludes Martina’s open letter to the arena:

It is now clear exactly who Court is: an amazing tennis player, and a racist and a homophobe. Her vitriol is not just an opinion. She is actively trying to keep LGBT people from getting equal rights (note to Court: we are human beings, too). She is demonising trans kids and trans adults everywhere….How much blood will be on Margaret’s hands because kids will continue to get beaten for being different? This is not OK. Too many will die by suicide because of this kind of intolerance, this kind of bashing and yes, this kind of bullying. This is not OK.

We celebrate free speech, but that doesn’t mean it is free of consequences – not punishment, but consequences. We should not be celebrating this kind of behaviour, this kind of philosophy. The platform people like Margaret Court use needs to be made smaller, not bigger.

Which is why I think it’s time to change your name.

This is as well-argued a case for one side of the issue as anyone could make.

Here’s the other side: Margaret Court’s name was placed on the arena because she was a great tennis player and a pioneer in her sport, not to honor her political and social views. She still was a great tennis player. That hasn’t changed.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Do Margaret Court’s political views and anti-LGTBQ statements create an ethical obligation to remove her name from Margaret Court Arena?

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The Destruction Of Doug Adler : Guerillas, Gorillas, ESPN And The First Niggardly Principle

The Niggardly Principles apply to situations where a hyper-sensitive and ignorant individual takes an innocent statement as a slur because the individual doesn’t understand its meaning or context.  These are all unforgivable scenarios that reward the foolish and punish the innocent (and articulate). They include the infamous episode in the District of Columbia government when a white executive was disciplined for using the word “niggardly,” ; the time the Los Angeles NAACP attacked Hallmark for an outer space themed “talking greeting card”  that mentioned “black holes,” which the hair-trigger offended (and science education-deprived) heard as “black ‘ho’s.”

Then there were the students at  at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania,  who demanded that the college rename “Lynch Memorial Hall,” named for Dr. Clyde A. Lynch, the LVC’s president during the Depression, because his name evoked lynchings to their tender ears. And who can forget, as much as one would like to, when ESPN suspended sportscaster Max Bretos after an Asian-American activist group complained that he had used the term “a chink in his armor” while talking about an NBA player of Chinese heritage ?

This story is worse than any of them.

ESPN sports announcer Doug Adler was calling an Australian Open tennis match last month between Venus Williams  and Stefanie Voegele when he said,”You see Venus move in and put the guerilla effect on. Charging.” “Guerilla tennis” is a recognized phrase that refers to aggressive tennis. It has nothing to do with Great Apes.

New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg, however, cued by some Twitter social justice warriors, attacked Adler, tweeting himself,

“This is some appalling stuff. Horrifying that the Williams sisters remain subjected to it still in 2017.”

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“A Nation Of Assholes” Epilogue, Baseball Edition

To be fair, Donald Trump supporters and Trump himself are not the only ones who would transform the United States into a rude, boorish snakepit of jerks and narcissists.

There is Bryce Harper, for example, shown above in his minor league days blowing a kiss to a pitcher after a home run.  In a much discussed interview with ESPN, Harper decried the “unwritten rules” of Major League Baseball, which, among other things, disapprove of showboating, trash-talking, styling, and showing up  opposing players. Naturally, many sportswriters, whose IQ and ethical standards hover perilously close to those of the juvenile, none-too-swift Harper, are flocking to his side.

“It’s a tired sport because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do,” Harper said in the interview. “I’m not saying baseball is . . . boring . . . but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys now who are so much fun.”

Nobody’s against fun, of course, and there have been many players past and present whose unique flair was justly celebrated. Harper, not being a rhetoric master, probably mixed up the harmless with the toxic in his list unintentionally, but there’s no excuse for Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Tom Boswell, other than the fact that intellectual dishonesty is his career calling card.

“From Willie Mays basket catches to Pete Rose sprinting to first on a walk to Dennis Eckersley fanning his finger-pistol at hitters he had struck out, baseball needs all the authentic extroverted individuality it can get, ” writes Boswell in his piece about Harper in the Washington Post. Ah yes, the device of the deceptive metaphor. Willie Mays used the basket catch because that’s the way he caught baseballs. Pete Rose ran to first on walks because he hustled.

The pistol routine Eckersley used (occasionally)? He was being a jerk. Continue reading

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Now THIS Is Sportsmanship! Bravo, Tennis Pro Jack Sock, Ethics Hero

Even for tennis, this was exemplary sportsmanship.

Kansas City’s Jack Sock was playing hard-serving Lleyton Hewitt in the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Hewitt, trailing 4-5 in the first set, smashed a serve past Sock that the linesman  called out.  Sock shocked Hewett and everyone else when he said to his opponent, “That was in, if you want to challenge.”  The crowd laughed; the umpire looked bemused, and Hewitt paused for a few seconds, then indeed challenged the call. Sure enough, the computer and camera showed that the serve was good, giving Hewett the point. He went on  from there to win that set and eventually the match.

I’m sure that Sock will consider his Ethics Alarms honor more than sufficient compensation. He seems like that kind of guy.

_________________________

Pointer: tgt

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Renée Richards, Fallon Fox, and Déjà Vu: Transgender Ethics In Sports

MMA-Fighter-Fallon

I think I’ve seen this movie before.

On May 24, Mixed Martial Arts fighter Fallon Fox moved to 3-0 in her MMA career, beating Allana Jones and earning a spot in the finals of the Championship Fighting Alliance’s featherweight tournament.  Her victory was accompanied by a chorus of jeers. Why? Fallon Fox is a transgendered male, now fully female—except for the unremovable Y chromosome—thanks to gender realignment surgery. Her rise through the female martial arts ranks has been greeted by a mixture of horror, ridicule and revulsion. When she came out for her most recent bout, some wit had the Aerosmith song “Dude Looks Like a Lady” blaring  over the loudspeakers. Some of her MMA competitors have declared that they will not fight her, and here’s sports commentator/pundit/personality Joe Rogan opining on her qualifications to compete:

“You can’t fight women. That’s fucking crazy. I don’t know why she thinks that she’s going to be able to do that. If you want to be a woman in the bedroom and you know you want to play house and all of that other shit and you feel like you have, your body is really a woman’s body trapped inside a man’s frame and so you got a operation, that’s all good in the hood. But you can’t fight chicks. Get the fuck out of here. You’re out of your mind. You need to fight men, you know? Period. You need to fight men your size because you’re a man. You’re a man without a dick.”

How quickly they forget. Continue reading

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Andy Murray, Tennis Corrupter

That's nice, Andy: rub his nose in it.

Once upon a time, like, oh, a few years ago, tennis was a sport in which the ancient values of mutual respect between adversaries, honesty, fairness, and sportsmanship were paramount.  The periodic talented boors  like Connors, Nastase and McEnroe were aberrations, and their conduct was derided, colorful though it might be.

I am pretty sure that Scottish tennis star Andy Murray has put an end to this, unless the international tennis body or a public uproar puts an end instead to his bringing the tennis equivilent of NFL taunting and NBA showboating onto the court. Murray is a trick shot specialist, and at the London Queens Club tournament leading up to Wimbledon, he created a viral YouTube moment  when he hit a winner against opponent Wilfried Tsonga by swinging his racket under his leg. It was spectacular, flashy and fun. It was also rude, disrespectful and obnoxious.

Guess which the public cares about. Continue reading

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Ethics Train Wreck at the French Open: The Saga of the Over-Eager Ballboy

John McEnroe slams a player for not being an exemplary sportsman. Wait...WHAT?

Sparking a mini-ethics train wreck at the French Open, an overenthusiastic ballboy, thinking a point was over when it was not, ran onto the court in the middle of the tennis match between Andy Murray and Viktor Troicki, forcing a replay on a point that appeared to have been won by Troicki.

Crash!

  • Andy Murray happily accepted his good luck and won the replay. He was wrong. The tradition of tennis, unlike most other sports (but like golf), is for the competitors to be gracious in such situations, as when a player knows that an umpire mistakenly called a good point by his opponent out of bounds. True, these days that tradition is observed less and less frequently. It would still have been the right thing to do, the ethical response.
  • Commenting on the match on The Tennis Channel, John McEnroe criticized Murray for not giving Troicki the point. This may win him the Gall of the Year Award, sports division. Yes, people can change, and it is not strictly hypocritical for one of the most unsportsmanlike players in tennis history to criticize a current player for not being an exemplary sportsman, now that the brat has mellowed and learned the error of his ways. At very least, however, if Mac was going to criticize another player for not doing something he would have never considered when he was competing himself, McEnroe was obligated to admit that he was advocating a standard he didn’t embrace when he had the chance. Continue reading

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