Thursday, September 24, 2009

Violence and Sports Part Deux

We seem to have had a spate of violent sporting folks recently.  Given my previous post, I thought I might share this post I made on Salon in response to an article suggesting that Serena Williams was getting treated more harshly than John McEnroe and other des enfants terrible of the tennis world after her meltdown at the U.S. Open.  The video above accompanied the original article and is relevant.

I never had any sympathy for McEnroe or any of the other players who berated officials and whined. More penalties more quickly dished out for childish behavior would have been (and would be now)a good thing for the game.

Having said that, in none of the clips included in the article featuring McEnroe did he physically threaten anyone. He was petulant and disgraceful, but never overtly violent.

Yes, race and gender might play into it, but I think the more obvious distinction between Williams's outburst and the others mentioned is that she verbally threatened the lineswoman (whether it be saying she was going to "kill" her, or merely shove a ball down her throat).

Physical intimidation of officials is, in any sport, several orders of magnitude above simply complaining about them. Playing down this aspect of Williams tirade and pretending like it was of a piece with McEnroe talking about the chalk flying up is to misprepresent what happened and to tacitly diminish the significance of threatening someone with physical violence.


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