View Full Version : NEWSWEEK perspective on FedCup controversy

May 2nd, 2002, 11:36 PM
FOR THOSE 99 percent of sports fans who have absolutely no clue about the Federation Cup, except a suspicion that it wasn’t the cup donated by Lord Stanley, it is the less famous women’s version of the Davis Cup. And in today’s sports climate, being less famous than the Davis Cup makes it only slightly less famous than my neighborhood Wiffle Ball competition.
* * * * So you’ll have to take my word that in women’s tennis it is something of a big deal. And it has always been a competition that is a matter of special pride for the U.S. women’s racqueteers, who through the years have showed up for the Stars and Stripes with far more sense of patriotic duty than our elite men players. And not surprisingly, they have dominated the Federation Cup throughout its four decades, winning 17 times.

* * * * That’s what makes the events of the past weekend so remarkable. Because the U.S. captain, fabled tennis great Billie Jean King, literally threw away America’s chances to win by booting Jennifer Capriati off the team right before the competition. Capriati wanted to practice with her father—she said she thought it wouldn’t really matter since she would be on her own time. King said Capriati knew the rules, and they were explicit.
* * * * King’s move essentially surrendered two points to Austria—one an outright forfeit, one when her substitute lost—which is a lot of points to concede in a best-of-five showdown. And all over a silly matter of Capriati refusing to abide by team rules, followed by Capriati throwing a profane snit fit. The U.S. is now out of the tournament.
* * * * Which is why I suggest that every one of you write the U.S. Tennis Association, whether you care about tennis or not, and let it and Ms. King hear exactly—and resoundingly—how you feel about this defeat. I’d suggest saying something along these lines: Right on, Billie Jean! Haven’t all of us sports fans been waiting for someone, anyone, to stand up to one of these petulant, whiny, self-involved, self-important kids and say, “Hey, just get your butt out of here. The team will play without you.” That it happened in relative obscurity shouldn’t detract from its significance. The coach of an American national team put principle above winning and she deserves our praise and support.
* * * * Much of America’s patriotic outburst over the past six-plus months has played out in sports arenas and stadiums. Inherent in our flag-waving and chants of “USA, USA” is a faith that our country stands for something special, that our national values are particularly worthy. By extension, that should mean that representing this country is also a special privilege. And with that privilege comes a requirement to elevate one’s behavior over the standards that may be needed to represent, say, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Bruins or the Chicago Fire.
* * * * Too often that isn’t remotely the case. I wrote earlier this year, right before the Salt Lake Olympics, of my grievances against the U.S. hockey team for their mortifying behavior—trashing a dorm room and refusing to own up to it—at the ’98 Nagano Olympics. Almost as unsettling was Sydney 2000 where, in victory, our men’s Olympic 4 x 100 relay team treated the flag with about as much reverence as their jockstraps, draping Old Glory around themselves while flexing their muscles. It recalled a shameful scene almost a decade ago when some NBA clowns, with their strutting and crotch-grabbing antics, made a mockery of the world championships. Our ’98 World Cup team in France wasn’t that bad, if you ignored how they played.
* * * * Now we have Ms. Capriati, who at 26 years old, couldn’t bear the thought of spending a few days practicing with just her team instead of with her daddy. Capriati has, of course, received a lot of praise for her comeback from teen burnout and drug-rehab graduate to international tennis champion. But while Capriati has earned millions in purses and endorsement deals, she hasn’t done a single thing that puts her in the same class—as either a player or person—as King. It’s not King’s dozen Grand Slam titles. It’s that Billie Jean has fought the good fight for the women’s game for decades now. If it weren’t for her battles, Capriati might be hustling games in Florida against Bobby Riggs wannabes in order to make a decent living.
* * * * King is one of the few figures with enough stature to take the heat for her decision. She was such a ferocious competitor and a great champion that she is indeed the perfect person to send a long overdue message: winning isn’t everything. As for Ms. Capriati, maybe she just had a bad day and will be woman enough to eventually admit her error. But if she ever wants to play for her country again, whether in the Federation Cup or some future Olympics, I’d make her first apologize to Billie Jean, then to her teammates and, finally, to all of us, her countrymen, for squandering the great honor bestowed on her.
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* * * *© 2002 Newsweek, Inc.
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Bright Red
May 2nd, 2002, 11:57 PM
Thanks for posting the article. I enjoyed all of it. The line below is especially powerful.

The coach of an American national team put principle above winning and she deserves our praise and support.

auntie janie
May 3rd, 2002, 12:22 AM
Excellent!!! And about time.

May 3rd, 2002, 12:27 AM
Great article. Thanks for posting!

May 3rd, 2002, 01:07 AM
Great quote Bright Red:wavey:

May 3rd, 2002, 01:21 AM
fantastic article. it makes the point so well. i hope Crappy and her Pappy both read it!

May 3rd, 2002, 01:26 AM
Great article ! It should be required reading for anyone who wants to play on the Fed Cup or Olympic team.

Mother Freedom Rules !!!!

May 3rd, 2002, 01:26 AM
That is not an article. It is not even in the magazine but is a web-site only "opinion". It is a column. It is not "Newsweek's perspective", or to put it more accurately, it is not a reporter's perspective.

No wonder you left the writer off.

May 3rd, 2002, 01:52 AM
If anyone is wondering who the author is, it's Mark Starr who has been with the magazine for over 20 years and since 1992 has been the national sports correspondent.

Bright Red
May 3rd, 2002, 02:13 AM
:wavey: @ LucasArg

May 3rd, 2002, 02:27 AM
But if she ever wants to play for her country again, whether in the Federation Cup or some future Olympics, I’d make her first apologize to Billie Jean, then to her teammates and, finally, to all of us, her countrymen, for squandering the great honor bestowed on her

First of all, there is NO WAY in hell Jennifer will apologize to Billie Jean or anybody else;:p secondly, she shouldn't have to; :( and third Jennifer will never want to play on Fed Cup ever again. :fiery: What would be the point? Nobody in America cares. This commotion was the most publicity the Fed Cup has received EVER. By the time Jennifer plays another tournament, everybody would have forgotten about this.:rolleyes:

Besides, what's the big deal? Like nobody knew sports stars were divas.:confused: This whole incident was too ridiculous for words but what makes me truly angry is the fact that nobody bothers to point out that the U.S. team was STILL more powerful than the Austrian team, even without Jennifer. All Monica had to do was win, which she didn't do.:mad: Seems to me most of the blame should be placed on Monica. She's the one who failed. She didn't even play as well as Meghann played and couldn't even beat a player ranked 75th.:sad: That's pathetic.

So, all these sactimonious writers and fans can ring their hands and bemoan the "spoiled, self-centered" tennis player, but somebody should point out the REAL story.

Cybelle Darkholme
May 3rd, 2002, 02:31 AM
My word, finally someone has hit it on the head! Somehow all the blind jen fans will no doubt skip this thread. The girl was in the wrong and everhone with their head screwed on right knows it. Yes we lost but it was the principle of the matter. Dont all you jen fans have any principles? Everyone makes mistakes but trying to cover up or dodge them just makes one seem shallow. Jen is not bigger than tennis even fed cup, maybe now she will realize it.

Bright Red
May 3rd, 2002, 02:32 AM
Monica should be praised--not blamed. She gave her best and that's all we can ask of anyone. That's JMHO.

At any rate, it's behind us now. It's not such a big deal, and there's always next year.:bounce:

May 3rd, 2002, 02:41 AM
Jen will apologise. that's my prediction. she may not have if the bulk of public opinion had weighed in against BJK. it hasn't and it won't. no surprise IMO.

watch for Jen to do yet another melt-down during her next press interview. she will start crying and sobbing and wiping tears and asking everyone to forgive her.

it worked the last time -- why not again??

May 3rd, 2002, 03:09 AM
So, we'll all avoid this thread apparently...well then, maybe I can set the record straight. When this whole thing blew up, I was too angry with Jennifer to put it into words. The girl, yet again, has made a huge, huge mistake. Her PR has never been great, apart from the days when she was 14, when her quotes were 'adorable', or 'cute'. As time went on, her PR became one of those parts of her that just fell to pieces. Part of this seems to be her attitude that she knows people are going to write bad things about her past and she no longer cares for it, so why should she care anymore? It's not right...but it's her view.

In truth, I cannot defend Jennifer on this one, as a fan, I can only support her. She has made another big error and I hope she will have the foresight to make amends, but with Daddy dearest egging her on, it's unlikely. Whilst she may be a woman of 26, she's still a small child, unable to break free from the shackles she imposed on herself when she came back to the game.

None of her fans will defend her blindly...we can all see the error of her ways, but we won't give up on her either. I seem to remember saying similar stuff in the other threads about this controversy earlier in the week.

As a fan base, we do have principles, that is perhaps why we didn't start slanging matches, but allowed the correct viewpoints (that she was wrong) to be aired. Please do not judge us according to our favourite player. She may be stupid, but some of us have more sense than to just wade in on an argument that we have nothing to say in.

If you want the quote, then here you go...Jennifer was wrong. She behaved like a brat and deserves to be held in contempt.

It's the truth, now how many times do you guys want to repeat it?

May 3rd, 2002, 04:18 AM
She may be stupid


May 3rd, 2002, 04:24 AM
*applause for Snuffkin*

Jennifer fans are not unreasonable, blind, ammoral devil worshippers. We don't always condone her behaviour and many of us have been very upfront about this. But we continue to support her, because we care. That requires no justification.

May 3rd, 2002, 04:38 AM
For sharing that article with us. It is indeed a good read, and expresses what most rational people have stated all along.

Again, thank you.:angel: :angel:

May 3rd, 2002, 04:53 AM
Big Ups to Mishar

That was a treat.

I take my hat off to Snuffkin

For being the fan with "common sense."

May 3rd, 2002, 05:04 AM
The fan? Yes, Snuffkin has common sense. So do many other Jen fans. As someone with a lot of common sense said, don't judge a fanbase by their favourite player.

May 3rd, 2002, 05:14 AM
Originally posted by kazzmazz
The fan? Yes, Snuffkin has common sense. So do many other Jen fans.


I can't tell.

May 3rd, 2002, 05:20 AM
good article and I totally agree with every word.

May 3rd, 2002, 05:24 AM

I can't tell.

Selective perception. Several Jennifer fans have openly admitted her behaviour was wrong. If you can't see that, oh well. Keep making your sweeping generalizations.