Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Not So Insightful Observation

I am so glad the Olympics are right around the corner because I need to write about something other than tennis.* But given my current state of bogged-downedness in a myriad of projects the only thing I have had time to read of late (besides academics) is the aforementioned back issues of Tennis.
And I noticed the other night while skimming the year in review issue that the magazine seems--or at least this issue seemed--to be a little slanted towards all things male. This was particularly suprising to me because 1) I am usually hypervigilant about media bias in sports coverage and I have been reading Tennis for years without noticing anything and 2) because last year on the men's tour was BOR-ING.
The year in highlights had 4 "gray" boxes, one for each Grand Slam. Only one featured a woman, Venus Williams at Wimbledon. I was surprised the US Open box did not feature Kim Clijsters (who got mentioned elsewhere though) in her first Grand Slam win. I am not advocating for strict parity here, rather just trying to interogate the criteria used for who gets to go in the box. More interesting though was the player of the year feature. Rather than choosing a man and a woman as in the past, the powers that be opted for only one (apparently this is going to be the norm in the future). Federer's spectacular year earned him the prize--and I would say rightly so. But the move is curious. Are we saying that we can now judge men's and women's athletic performances, at least in tennis, by the same criteria? And if so, what are the advantages and disadvantages to this? Does the former way of picking players of the year adhere to a separate but equal philosophy of sport? Or does it protect the often separate interests and priorities of the two tours? (Assuming--maybe wrongly--that there are disparate interests and priorities.)
I don't have the answers but I am interested to see what happens next year and keep my eye on future issues of Tennis.

*The Australian Open begins next week so I will most likely have more to say about tennis before the Olympics get here. I will do my best to diversify though.

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