"Sport is that child we raised with money but not love, who we allowed to grow up amid privilege but no values except to win at all costs." - Bill Rhoden
The article refers to baseball. But consider the shrieks of Sharapova (and Venus, and Seles, and a host of others), the squeaks of Ivanovic, the Karantancheva steroids, Justine Henin and "the Hand", Capriati and her argument that she deserved to benefit by demonstrably bad calls because she'd been victimized by them, and of course, the coaching and the bathroom breaks. The relation to tennis begins to come into focus.
Few of you (Fingon will) remember 1968, and the beginning of open tennis. And the arguments against it. Chief among those arguments, tennis was a sport built on honor and honesty and sportsmanship beyond all else, and professionalism would ruin that. That dishonesty in the relentless pursuit of the money that comes with winning would become the norm.
It was said that Arthur Ashe could just raise an eyebrow over a bad call and the chair umpire would overrule. His reputation for honesty was so bulletproof that if he questioned a call, there was NO doubt he was right. Who among today's players is given that kind of respect? And who has earned it? Who COULD earn it? The amounts of money involved are so huge, the concept of honor so vanishing, that one simply can NOT assume that a player holds their reputation higher than the millions they can win. Think about it. Venus Williams' children
, should she have any, will never have to work, if Venus invests wisely. Speaking as a parent, that's an assurance for my children I only wish I had.
When I was a kid, sports was said to build character, and teach the values of discipline, respect, honesty and hard work. 'Honesty' has somehow been lost. It used to be that losing honestly and honorably was better
than winning by taking every shotcut and advantage possible. No longer so. Predictably so, some would say.
So, to re-visit that old argument, that so few here will remember, was the move to open tennis ultimately a mistake? Tennis has lost both it's honor AND it's popularity. What has it gained? For the players, money. But what of the sport itself?