15 September 2009


i watched the womens' and mens' competitions of the u.s. open tennis tournament only sporadically over the weekend, so missed the climactic moment when a line judge called a foot fault on serena williams at the critical point in the final match, costing serena the match and the tournament. given that the official was sitting 75 feet away, and ostensibly seeing an infraction that involved fractions of an inch, it is understandable that a highly competitive and adrenaline-rushed athlete would momentarily lose her cool. video replays revealed that it was impossible to tell whether serena's foot had in fact touched the baseline. please check out this article for a fuller description.

here's what i find more fundamentally disturbing -- the kill-a-mosquito-with-a-howitzer reaction of tennis officials and the media was totally out of proportion to the event. a male player would not have been subjected to the sanctions that were imposed on serena. witness the historic (and often hysterical) antics of jimmy connors, john mcenroe, ilie nastase, or andre agassi. further, serena and other women tennis players labor within the good ol' boy, country club atmosphere which persists in professional tennis. they're still required to wear silly short skirts, and must perform to near-perfection to garner the attention paid to male players (the unspoken assumption: white male players).

so yes, gender bias and race bias still exist among us -- in sports, in politics, in every aspect of our lives. we've come a long way, baby -- but we have oh, so far to go.

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