Thursday, February 07, 2008

All About Race



Yes, it's Black History Month, but the issues Savannah writes about with clarity and insight in her latest Heard Around aren't contained to one month of the calendar. Here's but one example:

A widely read American tennis blogger Peter Bodo posted a column comparing what is characterized as the calm cool demeanor and play of Northern European Roger Federer to what he classifies as the thoughtless, animalistic play of Rafael Nadal. Nadal is described as not using too much strategy when on court while Federer is described as a clinician, someone who is always thinking. Guess this guy doesn’t know much about clay court play where Nadal is a genius at constructing points, something American players seem to not be able to do too well. Someone who has made two Wimbledon finals, the latest after a three peat at the clay majors leading up to it, made the semi’s of Australia and won Indian Wells last year is simply an instinctual player according to this blogger.

(...)

When a respected blogger posts about a players “animalistic” demeanor on court isn’t he responsible for an alleged tennis fan posting that said player is a “wild animal”?

Read the rest and have your say.

6 comments:

MMT said...

Bodo’s comments are the result of tennis ignorance, not racism. He doesn’t understand Nadal’s tactics, so he assumes there are none. His use of “animalistic” would not be seen as racist if it were applied to Jimmy Connors, but because we presume racism against Spaniards, we presume Bodo is racist. I don’t believe this is the case.

Spain is in the midst of a racist upheaval, and they're not dealing with it well at all. Racism appears to be bleeding from society (immigration and xenophobia) to football (black fooballers), to Formula 1 (Lewis Hamilton) and now tennis (Verdasco). Only a racist would make such a comment making a totally unrelated and insulting association with an unruly crowd in Canada to Africa. I have no sympathy for him or their country’s reputation when it comes to racism. They deserve it. If they want to stop it (which they don’t), they need to take money from events, teams and players who participate in racist behavior. They don’t, so it continues.

The anti-Djokervic-ism has nothing to do with racism. They don't like his parents (and some him) because they're braggarts and take liberties with their celebrity. Other eastern europeans are not maligned in tennis - they are, in fact, lauded and hyped.

And we really need to lay off the Israeli fans. If they're doing something illegal then the ITF have remedies. If not, then they should let fans be fans. This is not anti-semitism, but anti-anti-traditionalism.

Finally, did anyone else find it hilarious that even Andy Murray’s brother is calling him into question for skipping Davis Cup? Who would know better than his brother, what a selfish, self-centered prima dona he really is.

tangerine said...

Andy Murray is a coward for leaving his team to hang out to dry in front of the Argies, who are known as being one of the most nationalistic and hostile Davis Cup crowds around. As the top ranked player he is their unofficial leader but he does not act like one when he's abandoned his team when they needed him most. Even if he is injured he could have offered moral support by tagging along as a cheerleader. I'm glad his brother Jamie called him out. I feel that this is another ugly smudge on Murray's character.

Speaking of Davis Cup character, three cheers to the Americans for once again playing with a full team in the first round, with everyone accounted for. No sickness, no injuries, no unavailables, no fair weather friends, no excuses from these guys, once again showing that they are the ultimate DC team. I'm very proud of them.

On that note, I'm actually kind of bored with the USA/Austria match-up on clay and wish we could see Russia/Serbia instead. I hear the Russians have now poisoned Tipsarevic. ;)

Karen said...

Craig, I have to disagree with you on Pete's article. When I read it at first I too found it offensive, then I read it again, and found that a lot of what he was saying while not being framed politically correctly was in essence what Nadal's game is all about. Nadal plays a style of tennis where every point counts. That to me is very aggressive, very determined. Animalistic if you so desire. He goes for the jugular and will not let go. Roger on the other hand plays what used to be called a sissified game. He is all about the flair for the game. That being said, Roger too can go jungle on you especially if he is facing break points etc. Perhaps the words used to describe both players are not politically correct, but the essence of the article sums it up quite rightly I think.

Savannah said...

Bodo has been at the blogging business for many years. He wouldn't dream of calling Jimmy Connors play "animalistic". The word association wouldn't even enter his thought process. There are many ways to describe Rafa's style of play that do not include animal references.

As for the Djokovic's and their apologists I think the less said the better. We tennisheads just have to keep calling them on their behavior until it changes. I'm sure IMG has taken note of the negative way their new darling is perceived.

The Russians will never live that poison thing down will they?

As for Andy Murray's egoistic behavior regarding DC I think his brother was right to speak out. It took the US team seven years to finally win a DC. Through it all PMac kept the team together and the guys worked on their issues finally pulling one out. Sure Britain has an uphill battle against Argentina (snowballs in hell come to mind) but as the British number one doesn't he owe the LTA for supporting him? As was pointed out an a fansite today Tim Henman did all he could to put his country in the World Group. I guess they don't make 'em like they used to.

Craig Hickman said...

Karen, I didn't actually post an opinion about Bodo's article.

mmt, one doesn't have to be "a racist" to use contextually racist language. While I understand that athletes of every background can be compared to animals, it is important that we look at the context of such comparisons. If Venus' graceful grasscourt movement is compared to that of a gazelle, that's not a problem from where I sit.

We've got a North and South juxtaposition at work in Bodo's article. In a nutshell: North equals intelligent. South equals animalistic.

Where have I heard this before?

Racism/ethnocentrism/xenophobia, whatever you want to call it, is born of ignorance and fear.

Bodo ought to know better. And he flatout states that his metaphors are objectionable but he extends them through the piece anyway.

Whenever stereotypes are put forth, I always question the agenda of the person putting them forth.

Good people mess up. And when they do, they ought not get a pass.

tangy, I'm proud of the American Davis Cup team as well.

The less said about Andy Murray, the better.

Pamela said...

Bodo is an unimaginative dolt. He's constantly biased and insulting in his commentary. It's also quite evident that he steals ideas from the ESPN board as well. I've seen quite a few threads from there end up as his titles or subject matter. In other words, those who play the game and have common sense know better.