[Flash: In the golf world, we have all been taught that only TV ratings matter, that it’s all about “moving the needle.” Serena Williams winning Wimbledon, 2.2 rating; American Pharoah winning the Belmont Stakes, 12.3 rating. Jordan Spieth winning the Masters? An 8.7 rating.]
[Flash 2: Victor Espinoza is not happy.]
Okay, things are really getting bizarre.
I just read an article (“The truth about Serena & American Pharaoh: Here’s the real reason why the comparison is so insulting“) at Salon about Serena Williams winning Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year award and feel compelled to respond to it.
First off, the piece is written by Brittney Cooper, who, Salon tells us, “teaches Women’s and Gender Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers.” Well, certainly a college professor will write logically and without an agenda. Right?
The initial LA Times online coverage of the decision to honor Williams ran with the question, “Are fans right to be upset that Serena Williams beat American Pharaoh for Sportsperson of the year?” Is this really the question? A better question is: Are Black people right to be upset about the continued, blatant, unmitigated racism of the American public?
Okay, imagine an L.A. Times article with this headline: “Are fans right to be upset that Jordan Spieth beat American Pharaoh for Sportsperson of the year?” Would your first reaction be to bitch about how racist and insulting that headline is to Jordan Spieth? It would not be my first thought, nor would it would it be my ten-millionth thought. My first thought would be to order a copy of the SI cover to hang on my wall.
In the very next paragraph, Chuck Schilken argues that American Pharaoh has been “put at a great disadvantage,” because unlike Williams who showed a spirit of sportsmanship by returning to Indian Wells in 2015 after being the subject of racial slurs there in 2001, “horses can’t really display sportsmanship.”
Forgive me for this, but: What kind of bullshit is this?
Schilken seems dangerously close to making an argument that Serena Williams bested American Pharaoh not because of the her unprecedented record of consecutive grand slam wins, but rather because of affirmative action. To suggest that the horse is at a disadvantage for this award because a horse can’t experience racism is, simply put, whack.
A funny little remark about a horse not being able to show sportsmanship is twisted into a claim that the author thinks SI gave Serena the award due to “affirmative action.” Of course, Cooper merely insinuates that by using the phrase “seems dangerously close.” Which is quintessential PC framing. “Seems.” “Dangerously close.” I personally think it comes dangerously close. Or, as I hear it, There’s really no offense, but I’m going to complain anyway. Or, If someone throws logic to the wind and has a vivid imagination, they could cobble together a laughable claim of racism.
Let’s move on to some factual errors.
“Unprecedented record of consecutive grand slam wins.” Uh, no. Steffi Graf won five in a row. Margaret Court won six in a row, eight of nine, and, in the process, the Grand Slam. Neither of those two ever won SI’s Sportsperson of the Year award.
Here’s the funniest part of the article. Regular readers of this website should get a kick out of it:
The article, like many of the angry tweets, noted that while Pharaoh won the Triple Crown, Serena did not win the Career Grand Slam. A Career Grand Slam means that a tennis player wins all of the major opens in a calendar year.
Sigh. No further comment.
The vocabulary used in the piece looks like a primer on PC-speak: Hateration and white-splaining are just two examples. And, of course, who can write about SI’s Sportsperson of the Year without mentioning slavery and genocide?
What’s weird is that Serena Williams won the award in 2015 for doing less than Steffi Graf did in 1996, while Tiger Woods won in 1996 for doing less than Jordan Spieth did in 2015. Maybe Cooper can “black-splain” how that makes SI racist.
It would also be instructive to back up a step and show the full context of the reaction to the award. SI ran a poll beforehand to see who users thought should be Sportsperson of the Year. The results?
American Pharoah 47% Kansas City Royals 29% Lionel Messi 6% Stephen Curry 4% Jordan Spieth 3% Simone Biles 2% Carli Lloyd 2% Thomas Davis 2% Novak Djokovic 1% Ronda Rousey 1% Serena Williams 1% Usain Bolt 1%
Clearly, the public favored American Pharoah over ALL other athletes. Does Cooper really think that, had Ronda Rousey or Jordan Spieth won, the American Pharoah fans would have reacted any differently whatsoever?
People like Cooper who (claim to) see racism in every blade of grass are making the world a worse place for everyone in it, including those she would pretend to be helping.
This Salon article may be the worst I’ve read all year. (And, being a golf fan, I’ve read plenty of horrible ones). I wonder if Rutgers produces a lot of golf reporters…