#sportsmanship

Tennis code violations – who is worse?

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Some argue that the 2018 US Open was biased against female players. In the singles men played 3,176 games in the recent tournament. Or 1.538x more than the 2,065 games played by the women. Yet the stats show men suffered 86 code violations vs 22 for the women or 3.91x. So on balance men 2.54x more likely to suffer a code violation than women on a per game basis. Is it the blokes are just more ill-tempered? If we use the 1.538x ratio of more games played, the boys get penalized (over the last 20 years of grand slam violations);

4.2x more for racket abuse

1.6x more for audible obscenity

2.8x more for unsportsmanlike conduct

2.5x more for verbal abuse

1.2x more for visible obscenity

1.5x more for time wasting

The girls get penalized more than boys in the follwing ways.

60% more for coaching

10% more for ball abuse

Although trying to compare ‘bias’ in tennis with respect to code violations is kind of irrelevant. Certain players ‘blow up’ more than others. McEnroe got many more warnings than Bjorn Borg.

Just for the record, at the US Open Djokovic had to play 136 games for his $3.8mn vs Osaka’s 86. So for each game Osaka earned $44,186 vs Djokovic’s $27,941. Maybe this is why he made his comments about men deserving to be paid more? If we look at the runner ups, del Potro won $17,961 per game vs Serena Williams’ $26,428. So Serena’s. 2nd place earned her almost as much as Djokovic win.

Naturally a better judge is not games played but viewership. The Serena Williams/Naomi Osaka final drew 3.1mn viewers on ESPN, more than the 2.07mn that watch Djokovic/del Potro the next day. If women get 1.5x the audience of the men in the final could one argue the men need to play 1.5x longer to earn the same? Arguably Serena was fighting to match Margaret Court’s record which was part of the boost.

To be honest women’s tennis can be more entertaining to watch in so far as frequent sustained rallies. Men’s tennis can often be a blast fest of aces and blistering returns of serve.

It is likely that Osaka will attract higher than average audiences going forward. Perhaps she is entitled to claim higher prize money than the men based on the extra attention she brings to the sport?

If we look at golf, Tiger Woods used to be paid $300,000 just for attending a tournament regardless of how poorly he finished. If Naomi Osaka helps click the turnstiles surely she deserves a cut of the gate?

Those bloody racist Aussies

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Aussies. We love backing underdogs and relish in self-deprecating humour. Being put down in Australian culture is generally regarded as a compliment. Yet when we see bad behaviour, Aussies generally have no issues calling it as they see it.

We care little if we offend those perpetrating crimes. Take our national cricket team where several members were caught cheating in Sth Africa. The backlash was immense. We’d rather lose than cheat as a nation although it maybe the only solution left to wrest back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks after 16 years…..

Of course the satire of Mark Knight’s cartoon about Serena Williams’ temper tantrum got the activists riled up over supposed racist overtones. How quickly CBS made reference to a “white” cartoonist. If he’d been black and drawn the identical cartoon, would that have made it better? Why no complaints at all the other caricatures of Williams? That’s right – not a peep.

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That’s how the victim industry operates – find a narrative and then build concocted evidence to support it. Certain people might owe Knight a debt of gratitude.

Take this example. Author Leslie Honore   gladly used the viral nature of the cartoon to overtly plug her own book. This technically dilutes the nature of supposedly being 100% for the sisterhood in Serena’s corner, does it not? Makes for a great marketing tool though!! Surprised the author didn’t offer a free set of steak knives if bought within 20 minutes. True colours indeed.

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As for Aussies being racist, what will be evident when Naomi Osaka walks on court at the Australian Open in Round 1 is that everyone will cheer her. Not to apologise for the cartoon’s supposed misportrayal of her looks nor to make up for the appalling crowd display in New York but to honour a true bonafide sportswoman. We love everything about her. How could we not?

In all of the controversy surrounding the US Open final Naomi Osaka has oozed class with her sweet, bubbly but calm demeanor. Instead of apparatchiks demanding an open apology to Serena for sexism, equality and racism not once did any of them think to mention Osaka’s restraint or authenticity throughout the “me, me, me” nature of the saga. It was all about the champ! Williams’ prior tantrums were conveniently forgotten. Don’t forget Serena openly threatened Umpire Ramos that the thief would never be allowed again on ‘her court!’ So in that vein, Osaka was not an equal. She was privileged to stand across the net from the Queen.

Sure the racquet smasher with a coach who openly admitted he cheated is worthy of an apology. We should be proud to have the morals of such a role model drummed into kids. If little Johnny or Veronica don’t throw tantrums while representing their school we should put them straight in front of the counselor to work out why they haven’t been triggered. Don’t even start with the 9-yo brat refusing to stand for the Australian national anthem. Thanks Kaep!

If we judge the 23 grand slams and 10s of millions every year in endorsements and prize money for Serena , the global tennis apparatus has done a dismal job trying to beat her into submission if that is truly the claim. She’s got away with murder with her antics for years.

Throughout all Nike must have minted her name over the years as all these racists lined up to buy her clothes. Surprised the loonies haven’t called for cultural appropriation of white kids who wear Serena branded tennis clothing.

Maybe the lesson for Williams here is that playing against someone almost half her age that can blast 200km/h serves can teach her a thing or two about being a truly great champ in all aspects.

Poor old Naomi Osaka must be thinking the woman she once idolized is nothing like the person on the TV she thought she knew. Don’t worry Naomi, we wouldn’t want you to change anything about you!

Even if you don’t end up breaking all the records what better advocate for the game of tennis to have you as a global ambassador than a dummy spitting, venomous prima donna failing to cope with being dethroned. May there be many more kids who aspire to your level of maturity.

As an Aussie, CM speaks on behalf of many here who would openly say “we love you”. You can’t get here soon enough!

Two diplomats and the bloke who said what everyone else was thinking

Yesterday CM wrote about the terrible sportsmanship of Romano Fenati who tried to cause a competitor to crash by grabbing his front brake during a race. Race winner Andrea Dovisioso and reigning world champ Marc Marquez gave diplomatic answers as to what punishment fits the crime but 3rd place getter Brit Cal Crutchlow told the refreshing truth – that Fenati’s team should have immediately fired him. Race Direction handed out a pithy 2 race ban. Fenati’s team agreed with Crutchlow.

Fenati’s team said,

Here we are. Now we can communicate that the Marinelli Snipers Team shall terminate the contract with the rider Romano Fenati, from now on, for his unsporting, dangerous and damaging conduct for the image of all. With extreme regret, we have to note that his irresponsible act endangered the life of another rider and can’t be apologised for in any way. The rider, from this moment, will not participate in any more races with the Marinelli Snipers team. The team, Marinelli Cucine, Rivacold and all the other sponsors and the people that always supported him, apologised to all the World Championship fans.

The tale of two interviews – Osaka wins 6-0, 6-0

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Such is the weakness in today’s journalism that Serena Williams’ post match interview played to her being a victim, not a bully in her loss to Naomi Osaka. What were they worried about? If they didn’t treat the multiple grand slam winner nicely they’d lose access in the future?

She played like a brat – smashed rackets, denied using her coach, wailed at the umpire and then suggested “sexism”, “women’s rights” and “women’s equality”! Seriously? Why would Osaka feel the need to apologize for winning had Serena not stirred up the crowd to boo her? Poor old Osaka’s rights didn’t matter to Williams.

Naomi Osaka blew Serena off the court with superior tennis skills. She didn’t whine once. She deserved it. How disgusting for Osaka to be booed. What on earth would possess any fans to do it?

If only Americans could have seen Osaka’s interview on Japanese TV late last night. She was like the girl next door. Not pretentious or gloating. She was so dazed by what she had done that she repeatedly answered in English when questions in Japanese were lobbed at her. It wasn’t deliberate or calculating in the slightest. If anything she gave one word answers for the most part. Yet she oozed warmth and class.

Osaka deserves every endorsement she gets because she is exactly the type of demeanor lacking in professional sports these days.

Serena can play victim all she likes. There must be plenty who feel for the hardship at all the millions she has won over her career. Sexism and women’s equality? Does she forget blasting a lineswoman and female umpires in the past? What about Osaka? One journalist asked Williams did her motherly instincts kick in to comfort Naomi Osaka? Were you watching the same game?

Osaka embodies the best parts of what modern sports should look like. Authentic to a fault. She  can only make one smile at her sweet personality and ‘dizzy’ approach at speaking arrangements. No pretentious pieces to her puzzle at all. No heavily scripted media trained praise of her sponsors.

Serena on the other hand represents the type of sportsperson that lacks grace. Talk about role models for children. Yet the way to win these days in sport seems to be to driven by  controversy. Nike must be proud. Perhaps the sporting goods brand’s next ad can replace Kaepernick with Serena:“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing your opponent

Marc Marquez memes have mutated

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The memes have already started for the dodgem car race style of Marc Marquez. The fallout from this is likely to be huge. He is without doubt the greatest talent on track. To be able to do a ride through penalty after only 6 laps of a short track and still come out of pit lane ahead of a 5x world champ Jorge Lorenzo who is riding the most powerful bike on the grid speaks volumes about his skill. Yet he punted the 21 year veteran of the game who has more fans, history and records than most of the grid combined. Marquez will soon feel like the the barber in The Untouchables who cut Al Capone while shaving him. Deliberately cutting up Capone in front of the mob isn’t something they’ll forgive easily. The booing in Argentina was severe. Marquez is a 6x world champion but the question is can he act as one when it matters? He may have been forgiven in 2015 but not after yesterday.

Marquez said the move on Aleix Espargaro earlier on was far harsher than that on Rossi, just that the latter crashed in a racing incident (in his view “nothing crazy”) that copped the biggest penalty. Marquez tried to cover his mistake saying, “Honestly speaking I don’t care, I’m just focussed on my box and I know what happened. Of course today I did a few mistakes – a few of those mistakes were from Race Direction and a few were mine. And I recognise and will try to improve for the future.”

Yamaha Movistar Team boss Lin Jarvis said,

“I think it’s pretty obvious from anyone watching the TV images that it’s a move that is totally unacceptable…So it was the number X of many moves that were unacceptable throughout the weekend. We had issues in free practice when he very nearly missed Maverick one time…There have been several incidents against other riders – not our riders – but other riders throughout the weekend. In the race there was a big one with Aleix. There was another one with Nakagami and then with others. Finally he ran Valentino off the track. That’s just not acceptable – period.”

Rossi also sounded off after the collision,

“I’m okay but this is a very bad situation because he destroyed our sport, because he doesn’t have any respect for his rivals, never…If you take for example what’s happened this weekend, one by one these things can happen to everybody. You can make a mistake in braking. You can touch the other guy. Happens. This is racing…

…But from Friday morning he make like this with Vinales, Dovizioso. He made like this with me on Saturday morning. And today in the race he go straight into four riders…He does it purposely – and it’s not a mistake – because he points the leg, between the leg and the bike, because he knows that he don’t crash, but you crash. He hopes that you crash.

“So, if you start to play like this, it’s like you raise the level to a very dangerous point… Because if all the riders race like this, without any respect for the rivals, this is a very dangerous sport and it can finish in a bad way

 [His apology is] a joke. First of all he don’t have the balls to come in my office alone, but he come like always with his manager, with Honda, in front of all the cameras because what is important for him is this. He don’t care about you…So I don’t want to speak with him. I don’t want to see him close to me because I know it’s not true what he say to me…I hope that he is clever enough to don’t come…

MotoGP is worried that it is without a star to replace Rossi when he retires in several years. So much of the sport’s growth has been down to him. Marquez was supposed to be the coming rider to fill his boots. In skill he has it in spades, his ability to smile for cameras is a strong suit but these incidents against the man he was supposed to replace will create headaches for race organizer, Dorna Sports. He is now a villain and rebuilding that image looks like a lost cause. All smells a bit like the Aussie Cricket team antics in South Africa.

Grand Theft Moto

Current Moto GP World Champ Marc Marquez relived the video game Grand Theft Auto (Moto) in Argentina. He was the quickest rider by a good 1-2 seconds a lap throughout the entire weekend. Yet the red mist from his own screw ups got the better of him during the race seeing him collect three penalties – a ride through penalty for stalling on the grid (as above).

After serving the ride through he was lucky to escape penalty for ramming Aleix Espargaro on the charge back through the field.

Then Marquez received a one position penalty for overtaking on the grass.

Then he clattered 9-time World Champ Valentino Rossi needlessly out of the race when he would have swallowed him safely in two corners to take 5th position after he which he was handed a 30 second penalty which knocked him back out of the points.

It was an ugly display. It was almost a reversal of the 2015 Malaysian GP when Marquez, out of reach of the title, carved up Rossi in a way that wasn’t racing but ensured he’d lose time to eventual World Champ Jorge Lorenzo (who in that race wasn’t penalized for overtaking on a yellow flag). Rossi ran Marquez wide in an attempt to stop him playing games and allow a fair fight for the championship Before the latter crashed in the infamous ‘kicking incident’.

Rossi was relegated to the back of the grid for the final race and lost the championship as a result. He almost caught up through the field in the final race in Valencia but even then Marquez cut up his own team mate Pedrosa in the dying laps to slow Rossi, denying a 10th title. When the Spanish King crowned a Spanish 2015 world champ in Spain and a Spanish crowd booed at the lack of sportsmanship it told us everything how the fans felt at the poor governance showed by the race organizers, Dorna.

While Marquez did go to apologize to Rossi for his blatant stuff-up in this race his team wasn’t having any of it.

Race Direction actually ruined the entire Argentina race for pole sitter Jack Miller by him being the only one to opt for slicks and all others on rain tyres. They stopped the race as all others dived to change to slicks causing a restart which ruined Miller’s chance of winning through a better strategy. Marquez should have started from the pits after the stall but Race Direction botched that too.

Throw in Marquez’s multiple indiscretions and one wonders how he wasn’t black flagged. Rubbing may be racing but Marquez was ramming not riding. Will he be summarily punished? Yes, Marquez is without a doubt a far better rider than anyone else out there but he needs to work on winning at all costs.

 

Steve Smith should resign. If not he should be sacked

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Cheating is cheating. Gaining an advantage outside the rules is cheating. Money and match fees are such nowadays that players seemingly will do anything to win. Cricket was so much better when it was an amateur sport. When a bad decision from an umpire couldn’t be reviewed. It was just part of the game. Sometimes it went with you and others against you. Cricket hasn’t often been about the “spirit” of the game. Not any more.

Of course modern technology can provide instant feedback on the correct decision but I’ve always viewed it as wrong to challenge authority when it suits. Really, what message do we send young kids who grow up to think they can protest any decision they disagree with? What lessons or values get taught? TV cameras are everywhere. How do these sportsmen think they’ll get away with claiming a catch they didn’t take? Now this.

While a full inquiry hasn’t commenced it is clear that the player caught tampering was the one fighting hardest to keep his seat, Cameron Bancroft. However team captain Steve Smith admitted he knew in the press conference. While adamant he won’t step down as captain because it will never happen again (Scout’s honour), if he is found implicated in this mess he should be sacked. Period. So should the coach Darren Lehman. I absolutely admire Smith’s crazy talent as a batsman but find such lapses in judgement no excuse and even less worthy of having the honour of leading a national team. If found guilty he should face a lengthy suspension.

Any board would call on their CEO in the corporate world to resign if he/she hadn’t already volunteered it. Yet sports stars, much like politicians, believe hollow promises that the incident won’t happen again should be punishment enough. Qantas should fly these cheats back economy.

Which brings about the ethics of the game. As Smith is the highest ranked batsman in the world will the authorities go weak and impose lighter sentencing to keep the turnstiles ticking? What message does that send? If Smith is in charge he should take the fall for this shocking behaviour and be fined in the $100,000s.

Australia already has a shocking record for bad sportsmanship most infamously with the underarm delivery against NZ in 1981. This test series has been disgusting in many levels. Players mocking other players about the sexual antics of their wives and so on. Australia should forfeit the match and lose their fees. Cricket Australia should be forced to compensate the fans for this debacle and the players responsible fired. Just because Bancroft was fighting to save his career doesn’t excuse him from wrong doing. Sure, playing for one’s country is the highest accolade but any fan wants to see players reach and stay at the top through their hard efforts not through cheating.

What it does tell us is how terrible the governance is within the Australian team. Where were the whistleblowers?  Or do the millions they earn each year somehow cloud their judgement? How could the coach condone it? He was on TV admonishing fans for sledging players walking up the race after being dismissed. What a hypocrite if he knew what the team was up to. No excuse. South African Captain Hansie Cronje received a life ban for match fixing. While ball tampering is not quite as severe as throwing matches it is still cheating.

Fans will be judging the response by the authorities and Cricket Australia. Will CEO James Sutherland issue an apology and some harsh words to really clamp down on this? Or will he gloss over the sordid tour, hope time will heal and think of dollar signs only because  fans can be treated as mugs.

Ethics? A sign in society today of how little it means.