William’s Sisters Refuse to Take a Stand
Sometimes its the sports pages that hold the important cultural news of the day. Today’s win-at-all costs sports culture provides plenty of fodder for those of us interested in supplying our youth with teaching moments. The recent admission by Alex Rodriguez that he took steroids is but one example of just one high profile and ongoing saga.
Jim Donaldson calls attention to another, today.
Shame on Venus Williams. And on her sister, Serena, too.
The two of them will meet in the semifinals of the $2 million Dubai Tennis Championships.
They never should have played in the tournament at all.
Not after Shahar Peer, ranked No. 48 in the world, was unable to participate, banned from entering the country because she is an Israeli.
Can you imagine the outrage, the outcry if the Williams sisters were prevented from playing in a sanctioned, World Tennis Association tournament because they’re black?
Yet the barring of Peer, because she’s Jewish, didn’t seem to upset the sisters Williams all that much.
“We can’t let our sponsors down,” said Venus, a member of the WTA Players Council. “Our sponsors are extremely important to us.”
Which is tantamount to saying: “Money is extremely important to us.”
The Williams sisters should have boycotted the tournament. Every American player should have boycotted the tournament. Every member of the WTA should have boycotted the tournament….
The Williams sisters could have been rallying points in Dubai. Instead, the only rallying they have done has been on the court, in pursuit of prize money.
The excuse given by the tournament organizers for banning Peer was that they were concerned about “security” in the wake of Israel’s recent military action in Gaza. Saying Peer’s presence “would have antagonized our fans,” the tournament organizers wrote in a statement that they “did not wish to politicize sports, but we have to be sensitive to recent events in the region and not alienate or put at risk the players and the many tennis fans of different nationalities that we have here.”
Donaldson also offers an instructive story about Arthur Ashe, who wrote about stands on principle made by John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg. No matter the excuse made by the tournament organizers, it’s racism, pure and simple.
UPDATE: The World Tennis Association (WTA) has fined the Dubai tournament’s organizers. A step in the right direction…
ADDENDUM: A quick personal anecdote: Prior to past business visits to Dubai and other Persian Gulf States, I’ve had to have my passport “scrubbed” of any existing Israeli Custom’s stamps so I wouldn’t encounter any “problems” entering the country. The reverse was not true.