...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.