Monday, May 30, 2016

Does tennis really need a commissioner?

It's been more than a tad annoying having to watch all of those ads featuring John McEnroe as a  self-styled Tennis Commissioner.  And I may have remained in my self-inflicted hiatus from writing if this hadn't succeeded in thoroughly annoying me enough to challenge me to write about it.  It's hard enough having to deal with it raining rope in Paris, but having also to tend with this buffoon is asking just too much of this Chick.

Somebody has clearly paid a whole lot of money to make sure that Johnny Mac has been annoyingly ever-present during TV coverage of Roland Garros 2016, acting out various scenarios in which a tennis commssioner is seen handling a number of different situations. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to shame Johnny Mac for his shameless self-promotion. Frankly, his self-advertisement seems as American as Donald Trump.  

My only worry is that while the US seems hell bent on electing a President it so does not deserve, I do not want the same for tennis.  And nothing convinced me more that Johnny Mac is inappropriate for this role than his half-baked take-down of Maria Sharapova.  A true tennis commissioner -- male or female -- has both cojones and courage.  He or she is more than a half-assed politician seeking to find a way to suck up to sport's top-earning female while pretending to dress her down.

The value of a sports commissioner was recently observed in the sport of basketball.  The efficacy of a commissioner was clearly evident when NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, did the right thing when he stepped up, manned up, and banned that racist piece-of-shit Donald Sterling for life.  That Mr. Sterling was the owner of the LA Clippers did not in the end protect him from the righteous wrath of Mr. Silver. Sterling was and is history.

But can we truly say that basketball is truly better off for the actions taken by Mr. Silver?  Did his decision ripple meaningfully beyond the small pool of a lower-tiered team in a city more known for movies than basketball?  Are there team owners out there who are now quaking in their boots about possibly seeming racist because Mr. Silver is large and in charge?

Look I'm not meaning to endorse a paternalistic and punitive role for a sports commissioner. More importantly, my view of a commissioner is of someone who has the courage to separate the threads of bullshit and take meaningful, decisive, and definitive action. There's no pussy-footing in this role.

Which then brings me to Sharapova and tennis' would-be commissioner's proposed punishment.  After making a decent case for Maria being a lying and cheating cheater, the would-be commissioner then proposed that she be immediately re-instated with the sole punishment that she not be allowed to grunt and scream ever again. Really?  So Sharapova's longstanding use of a drug that was recently banned is something we can already make jokes about?  The job of a tennis commissioner is to make light of longstanding cheating?

Let me tell you how strongly I feel about this.  I recently fired my tennis coach after he defended Sharapova.  He said that Meldonium was not illegal when Sharapova took it so she should not be punished.  His ass was fired stat.  I have no patience for anyone who wants to make excuses for this cheater.  Because between you, me, and the tennis net, you know that if Serena was ever caught taking this drug, we would not have heard the end of what a cheating cheater she was.  But for Sharapova, folks are willing to make jokes and excuses.

So, no, I am not impressed with McEnroe's bid to become tennis' commissioner.  Frankly he is wrong for the job.  He is too emotionally impulsive, and frankly too self-serving for the job.  I personally vote that we wait for Federer to retire.  And then appoint him stat.

1 comment:

happygeek said...

Nice post. Welcome back!