Saturday, December 12, 2009

Remember that?

So I am not, let it be stated for the record, going to discuss any of these best of the decade stories. It is a principled stand based on the fact that it's not the end of the decade. Not until next year. 'Cause you can't start counting at zero.
That said I read one of those very pieces (I said I wouldn't blog about it, not that I wouldn't read them) that included some of the best or most interesting or ironic sport quotes of the years 2000-2009. Some indeed interesting, some not so much.
But I was reminded of that incident with John Rocker in 2000 (which, as we know was not the start of the current decade or even century; I am being too nitpicky about this?) where he said to Sports Illustrated that he would never play baseball in New York because he didn't want to ride the subway with, among others, the queer with AIDS. That got Rocker a lot of press and a two-week suspension at the start of the season and a $500 fine.
So I was thinking about this in light of the recent fines and reprimands handed down to Serena Williams. I have not commented on them and I feel like this perhaps might be a glaring absence. Maybe because I had heard the figure of $1 million and a several months of suspension tossed around. But I did not think the $82,000 was that bad. She makes a lot of money. And she threatened someone and used profanity. Absolutely the coverage of the event was racist and sexist. And it's likely that this hyper visibility contributed to the fines that were levied. So in that way, it is true that her punishment was indeed tinged with racism and sexism.
Rocker's punishment--if we can call it that--was practically a reward. $500 is nothing. And two weeks off for a pitcher; give me a break. Baseball, unlike tennis (minus that whole overlooking of Andre Agassi's meth habit) is a little more strict. Fines levied against players are almost always in the thousands of the dollars. And it is still seen as nothing.
So what's my point here? I actually don't know. Something about how standards are always going to vary based on the sport, and the athlete--including the athlete's gender, sexuality, race, age, education level, and religion. If I come up with something more profound, I will re-post. Until then I am going to try to enjoy the transition into the last year of the decade.

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