Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It's February...

...The forced hyacinths are blooming, the rose industry is rubbing its collective hands...and it's once again time to argue about the Williams sisters and Indian Wells. Billie Jean King is trying to persuade Venus and Serena to call off their boycott of the tournament, which is now called the BNP Paribas Open. Serena does not sound too interested; Venus is very close to King, however, and I suspect she is the one who will get the most words from the tour's major founder.

Some people say that engaging in the boycott makes the sisters poor role models because they are breaking tour rules. I say that standing up to bigotry always makes you a good role model. I remember when the teachers in my state went on strike, and dozens of parents were screaming about what bad role models they were, and about how much class their children were missing. But the thing is--those children learned more from seeing adults standing up for a cause--and for themselves--for a day than they could learn from a month of spelling and geography drills.

If the Williams sisters decide to break their boycott and play at Indian Wells--fine. But if they decide to stay away, I support that decision. Those who think it's time for the sisters to "get over it" need to spend some time in a large arena, listening to their countrypeople call them vile names because of their skin color.

It isn't the Williams sisters who need to change.

9 comments:

David said...

While I think what happened then would not happen again, or at least hopefully wouldn't, I support their decision to boycott the tournament as well. Surely having that happen to them would have been one of the worst experiences of their professional career, even their lives, and you can't blame them for not wanting to relive that. I hope that the decision they make is theirs...not too influenced by someone else

Diane said...

I don't think you need to worry about that, David. The Williams sisters have always made their own decisions about things, regardless of what others think or say.

RoƱoso said...

Oh Diane, what a fine piece you delivered today with this post. Really, is not just talking about a boycott (with i, too, support) in the tennis world, but the analogy with the teachers strike and kids learning from that... this is the kind of level in thinking i love to read (here and everywhere).

And about the other one, im with Jelena, Roger just needs to shup up.

Christa said...

I have absolutely no problem with the Williams' boycott of Indian Wells; in fact, I think the entire idea of mandatory tournaments is ludicrous, but that's a discussion for another time. If Venus and Serena don't want to play IW, for whatever reason, I think that's perfectly fine.

However, I find the implication that they would necessarily experience the same treatment if they *did* play Indian Wells completely unfair. What happened to Venus and Serena was terrible, but it doesn't mean that the audience at the tournament, year after year, is composed of bigoted idiots.

Diane said...

Christa, I don't know where you got the idea that anyone--including I--implies they would get the same treatment now. I have no idea if they would, and I haven't even thought about that issue.

Thank you, Ronoso.

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Diane said...

Thanks for the reference to your blog, Javier. Roger is one of my very favorites!

Westerly said...

I'm not altogether comfortable with the idea of mandatory tournaments either, and I stand by the Williams sisters boycott of Indian Wells.

@ Christa - the problem with Indian Wells isn't the composition of the audience or that there *will* be a repeat performance, but with the tournament organisers and the tournament itself.

The officiators were complicit with the crowd in their refusal to actually officiate the damn match and instead allowed things to get well out hand. Furthermore Indian Wells wasn't exactly forthcoming with apologies until the sisters took a definitive stand.

Serena might be more steadfast thatn Venus, seeing that she was the one who had to bear the brunt of the crowd's ire.

Also agree with Ronoso that Roger needs to shut it. His loss to Murray had nada to do with Jelena and he had no business dragging her into it.

Anonymous said...

Boycotting the Sony Ericsson tournament is a must. Dubai denied Peer a visa because she is Jewish. Dubai must never be rewarded with another tournament and Sony should pull out of Dubai and take the tournament elsewhere. Im boycotting Sony products for not doing so. We have a duty not to promote intolerance.