Friday, September 29, 2006

Advice from the coach

One of the big games in college football this weekend is the Big Ten battle between Ohio State and University of Iowa at Iowa. It is especially big for Iowa not just because they are currently undefeated, but because ESPN is coming to town and the game is a featured night time contest airing on ABC. It is the first night game at home for Iowa.
Messages are out all over about students being on their best behavior and representing the university well. Today the coach himself, Kirk Ferentz, sent an email to the entire unversity community reiterating some of these same messages. But he added something that pretty much made my jaw drop and my head spin when I thought about how the university let this message get out:
Please be sure to pace yourself through the day; we're going to need our fans to be at their very best at kickoff and throughout the game.

Hmmm...what could coach mean about pacing oneself during the day? Oh maybe he's thinking about all the students studying in the library and he's worried about them getting burnt out on academics and having to go to bed before the big game thus depleting the fan base.
Or perhaps he is concerned about the faculty who frequently--because they are so overloaded--spend weekends doing their own research and writing. Or maybe he is worried about the bus drivers and custodial staff that work all weekend (practically invisible to the community).

One or all of these has to be it because I am sure Coach Ferentz is not really saying to carefully monitor your alcohol intake throughout the day so that you don't show up at the game rip roarin' drunk and obnoxious and then puke on your fellow spectators or pass out in the stands where you will be left behind by your so-called friends. Because that would be tacitly condoning the massive amount of drinking--usualy of a binge-type nature--that happens on game days. That would be saying that the culture around football at the university--the one that is centered on misogyny and homophobia and destructive commercialism--is just fine.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Atalanta Syndrome

When the e-journal The Scholar and Feminist Online came out with their latest issue last week I was very excited because it was devoted to women, sport and culture. When I read the title of the keynote address by Catharine Stimpson that inspired the issue, I was ecstatic.
The Atalanta Syndrome: Women, Sports and Cultural Values is an excellent piece of scholarship that succintly and intelligently (while remaining very accessible) addresses the major issues in women's sports and the historical and current conflict between feminism and sport.
Stimpson incorporates a healthy amount of memoir regarding her own athletic endeavors and her immerson in feminism which provides a frame for two critical issues: sport and its (in)ability to overcome gender norms; and the role of feminism in sport.
The issue is entitled The Cultural Value of Sport: Title IX and Beyond. And so Title IX here serves in part as an historical marker. The articles all address issues in women's sports in what has been deemed the post-Title IX era (I always am a little nervous about that phraseology because I think in "post" there is an implication that we no longer need Title IX rather than it simply being a signifyer of time). So some of the articles do not extensively address Title IX but in any discussion of the current state of American women's sport the value of Title IX is implicit.
And Stimpson acknowledges this value in her address.
But Stimpson's first contribution is the naming of the conflict in which women athletes are engaged. The Atalanta Syndrome is "a cultural illness in which women are vulnerable and devalued." The term comes, of course, from the Greek mythological figure Atalanta who, though strong and swift and intelligent, was forced to conform to societal pressure (in the form of her father in the story) and marry.
The Atalanta Syndrome is something many scholars have been talking about, without naming it as such, and which this blog seeks to address from time to time as well. "Conformity to the prevailing rules of femininity" explains many of the limitations on and conflicts for female athletes. The examples are numerous in the speech and many of us can probably add more than we want to to the list.
Stimpson's other contribution, and indeed it is the contribution that the whole issue focuses on, is a discussion of the intersection of feminism and athletics. Other contributors take up more narrow aspects of this intersection but Stimpson offers the grounding for these with an explanation of radical and liveral feminism in the 1970s and the historical uneasiness among feminists in embracing sport because of its ties to war, violence, and masculinity.
Despite this, Title IX, which comes from a liberal feminist tradition, has increased women's particiaption in sports incrementally, Stimpson notes.But also it has created a shift in the version of Atalanta embodied by contemporary female athletes.
Though there is general public support for Title IX (despite its many "near-death experiences") Stimpson says that increased visibility alongside traditional gender norms has resulted in the overtly sexualized Atalanta and an even greater pressure for conformity to traditional conceptions of womanhood.
There is much more to Stimpson's speech that I cannot summarize here but is very much worth reading for its discussion of historical factors that have shaped female athletes as well as shifts in technology and ideology that construct today's version of the female athlete.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Will women's golf ever shed its country club status?

I have only recently become a fan of women's golf. So I don't know much about its history. I do, however, know a lot about women's tennis which I see as similar to golf in some respects. So I always am using the status of women's tennis as the marker against which to measure women's golf. Perhaps this is not really fair, but it's the only frame I have right now.
But it's an interesting frame because I see the disparities as huge especially as they relate to how the women's game has fared compared to the men's game. In tennis the women's game, I would argue, has as much visibility as the men's game. This is of course a recent development--5-10 years--and the visibility isn't always ideal (see my previous complaints about the characteriziation of the women's tour as "drama-filled"). But it's there. And sure there are many people who would rather watch the men's game any day--why I don't know--but there are plenty (men and women alike) who would much rather watch the women play.
The same can be said for women's golf. The media attention it gets is miniscule compared with women's tennis. And the prize money is ridiculously scewed. The women make far less money than the men week in and week out. In tennis we have Billie Jean King to thank for getting the ball rolling on more equitable prize money but because the men and women sometimes play the same events it seems all the more obvious. In golf there is no tournament where men and women are playing. Like tennis the men's and women's tours are separate, but unlike tennis they never ever come together. This means two things. One, the huge disparity in prize money is never really seen in context and two, the potential for achieving greater visibility for the women's game is never realized. Yes, it shouldn't be that women have to get fans from men's golf, but I am only suggesting it as one possible avenue.
Both tennis and golf have country club origins. Both still exude that air of elitism. But tennis has become more accessible whereas golf is still largely a game for the upper (and upper middle) crust. And I would guess that in the population of recreational golfers there are fewer women, proportionally, than there are recreational tennis players who are women. This also narrows the pool of fans.
But there has been no player in golf who has really been able to show the larger world that golf isn't just for the wealthy. Because it's a harder task. Equipment and access to space are larger barriers in golf than in tennis. Perhaps this will change with the increase in development programs offered by the USGA.
All this was inspired by my viewing this weekend of the Longs Drugs Challenge. It was a close tournament with Karrie Webb winning over Annika Sorenstam by only one stroke after Sorenstam had an exceptional Sunday shooting 65. Also rookie Morgan Pressel finally began to show the promise that had been swirling around her since she was 14. But what the commentators kept coming back to was that the race for Player of the Year was coming down to the wire with Lorena Ochoa in the lead but Webb and Sorenstam very close behind and Christie Kerr not out of the running either. All four were playing this weekend.
It made for some good drama. Drama that could garner more viewers. Sorenstam has dominated the game for so long, easily winning Player of the Year since the mid-90s. And before her, Webb dominated. But with four players in contention plus the whole crop of young players Wie, Pressel, and Paula Creamer among them, the game is pretty interesting. It is actually pretty similar to the current state of women's tennis. The older veterans are phasing out--though still quite competitive--and the younger ones are fighting to see who will be the next big thing.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Babies babies everywhere

Mothers who are athletes. It's a pretty new topic of inquiry. A few months ago in The Chronicle of Higher Education Stanford cross country coach wrote a piece (you need a subsciption to access the whole article; but it's the June 30 issue for anyone who can find a hard copy)about her struggles over coaching and being a mother. Was she being fair to her children? To her athletes?
These issues are not so disimilar to ones mothers who are in any occupation face--unlesss your occupation is professional (or even amateur) athlete.
For a long time, and of course there have been exceptions, female athletes had their athletic career and then after they retired they had children. This has been the norm. Chris Evert, Steffi Graf are a few who followed this pattern. Lindsay Davenport, when she talks about retirement, almost always mentions the desire of she and her husband to start a family. She, and others, are suggesting that a professional athletic career and a family are incompatible.
But the winds of change seem to be blowing (again--I know there are athletes who have continued their competitive career after having children, they just seem to be either very few or underreported--or some of both). Joy Fawcett, who recently retired from professional soccer had THREE children by the end of her competitive career. Brandi Chastain, who had left open the possibility of coming back to play after the Olympics, just gave birth this summer. Whether she will return to competition is up in the air right now. But she has not, as far as I know, officially retired. US National hockey player Jenny Potter had a child when she was at the height of her collegiate career and then went on to become a pivotal player for the national team.
There are moms in the WNBA too. But apparently soccer moms is taking on a new meaning because soccer players, in the midst of their careers are having babies all over the place. And they really aren't considering it an impediment to their careers. Kate Margraf is back training with the national team after delivering her baby in July. Christie Rampone, Tina Frimpong (who had a child before she started her college career), and Danielle Fotopoulos are all active players with children.
I learned all this the other night while I was watching the US play Mexico in a lead up game to World Cup qualifiers. At the time it was a little annoying. All they talked about were babies. Julie Foudy, who was commentating, is also pregnant and Margraf brought her baby into the booth to say hello. So it was all a little well normative I guess.
But in hindsight I think it's fascinating. The debate about working mothers is now extended to working athletes and we are also forced to consider the effect this may have on debates over women's physicality. Soccer, hockey, basketball players all play a very strenuous game. To come back from nine months of drastic changes to one's body is pretty remarkable.
But female athletes with children is just beginning to become an issue we are talking about.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Addicted to the withdrawal

Justine Henin-Hardenne withdrew in the third set of the Fed Cup final yesterday in the match that gave Italy the cup. Citing knee pain, HH pulled out down 0-2 in the doubles the match which gave Italy the 3-2 win.
This injury seems pretty legitimate. HH had had knee pain earlier in the summer. Plus her back is bad and she has some other problems too.
Still the retirement raises some questions. After all this is the second high profile HH withdrawal this year. Her retirement against Amelie Mauresmo in the Australian Open final in January with a stomach ailment raised many eyebrows (my own were oddly arched for weeks).
But this one is not generating as much speculation. For some reason because we see a bandage on the knee we are more likely to assume a legitimate injury--most of the time anyway. But a stomach ache is a little more suspicious I suppose even though both injuries are not really discernible to the audience.
Again, I am not doubting HH's retirement really. But I suspect withdrawals will become very much associated with her as we move into the end of this season and the beginning of next. Remember, HH (when she was just H) used to be one of the biggest "chokers" on the tour. She was cited for not being mentally tough enough to close out matches. Now it seems she is having trouble just finishing them.
What this retirement also forces us to consider--and hopefully it forces the powers-that-be to do so as well--is the extreme schedule players are largely forced to keep. If we want Fed Cup (and Davis Cup too) to be more popular or tournaments to have and actually produce big-name players maybe the schedule should be cut back just a tad. Players must be weary by the time the US Open ends but there's still the indoor season abroad and the end of the year championships.
I myself am weary after the US Open and all I have been doing is watching the matches!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Is his tongue in his cheek?

Every Wednesday NPR's Morning Edition airs a three minute (or so) commentary by Frank Deford. In this morning's airing, Deford decided to jump on the boys-are-lagging-behind bandwagon.
But not really...
...I think.
It was hard to tell.
It went something like this (my interpretation is in {}):
Studies {dubious as they may be} show boys are lagging behind in school at all levels. More women enter college now than men.
Deford claims it is because men, as boys, are pushed towards sport. They are rewarded for success in sport more so than success in the classroom. {Interesting hypothesis. I certainly agree boys are rewarded for playing sport and are very much encouraged to play sports more so than girls.}
This has lead to the decrease in boys in college because girls--who aren't encouraged to play sports--spend time studying because they are not preoccupied with sport and thus get smarter. {Hard to tell at this point whether he is presenting this as a legitimate theory we should consider or if this is the moment we should chuckle to ourselves and say, "Oh, Frank."}
And then he started talking about sport management programs for male athletes (who are not so smart but in college because of their athletic abilities) and how they just produce not so smart people to run athletic programs thus perpetuating the stupidity cycle. {While this is not universally true it does seem there are a lot of male athletes in sport management. But if one really wants a position in athletic administration you will definitely need a master's degree if not a PhD. So the stupid that Deford mentions probably get weeded out along the way. Alas I haven't come across a lot of sport management people--even those with higher degrees--who have a very nuanced understanding of critical issues such as gender and race and class and how they play out in sport. Not because they are bad people but because it seems like sport management degree programs don't really stress these things.}
Then Deford notes how smaller schools are adding football to increase the number of men in the student body. {Yes, happened at a school I used to teach at that had gone co-educational in the last decade. He fails to note however that this usually means Title IX numbers are even more skewed with this addition because the percentage of women in the undergrad population is probably higher than the percentage of women playing sports. Adding more male athletes hurts these numbers even more because their addition to the undergrad population has less impact than their addition to the athletic department population.}
Deford defends Title IX however, telling men to stop fighting it because studies show {again, nothing cited or specific} that female athletes start to become more like male athletes. Their grades fall and they participate less in university activities. {OK I have read something like this but it was from the 80s. And it's interesting that when grades fall and interest wanes this makes one more like a man...what's that about?}
So, Deford concludes that the only way to decrease this widening gap between boys and girls is to get more girls playing sports and thus make them more male-like {not masculine because implicit in that adjective is the issue of physicality which Deford stays far away from here.}

In the end of course we can't really take Deford's "suggestion" seriously. It seems like a big joke on the social scientists that are proclaiming boys are suffering in school. But in the process of making this joke, Deford relies on and perpetuates so many stereotypes of men, women, and athletes that I can't even get to them all here.
So it seems his tongue is indeed somewhere in his cheek. My suggestion: next time he should just bite it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Women make baskets and men just show up

I joined a women's USTA league recently. We haven't started playing official matches yet but there has been lots of email contact among us as the start of the season nears. Today I received a forward advertising a charity tournament this weekend. In addition to the tennis there is a basket raffle. Teams create baskets. (Everything in yellow is from the email sent by one of the coordinators.)
Some “basket” themes to get those creative juices flowing, but you can do anything you would like. Surprise me - BBQ; Golf; Romance; Pet Supplies; Caribbean Fiesta; Think Pink; Gourmet Dinner for Two; Housewarming; Virgin Olive Oil & Accessories; Beach; Lobster; Gardening; Get Away.
Baskets get raffled off and the proceeds, in addition to the fees for entering the tournament, get donated to a local hospital's breast cancer division.
But there are incentives to get people to make the baskets:
Some Women's teams are entered into the fabulous basket fundraising raffle - they are creating their own basket that will be raffled off to lucky winners the day of the event (you do not need to be present to win). The baskets will be judged on various categories - teams that win will receive a fabulous prize.
Lest you think that the coordinators are discriminating against men. Oh no--the men's teams too can win a fabulous prize (no word on what the fabulous prize is).
For the Men's teams I have a seperate challenge - the men's team that has the most people playing in the event on Saturday - will win a fabulous prize. What do you have to do - have attendees provide your team name when they sign-up or come in to play. At the end of the event - the men's team with the most players participating gets a fabulous prize - oops I said that already.

Women make fabulous baskets--and men just show up. Yep--that sounds about right.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Some (mostly trivial) reflections on the US Open

I missed the men's final this afternoon because I was being a good faculty wife at a function. But from what I have read it was pretty standard Federer Grand Slam final fare.
Federer though had a new friend in his player's box: Tiger Woods and his wife were in attendance. Apparently they just recently met. I was surprised at Woods's very casual attire considering he must have known he would be shown on television: backwards cap, nike shirt, and jeans. He actually--when I first caught a glimpse looked like a teenager.
Controversy continued to emanate from Maria Sharapova's box last night as she was making her way to the 2006 title. "Hitting partner" Michael Joyce held up not only a banana and also mimicked taking a drink but held up 4 fingers--a code no one has yet to break. Sharapova attempted to address the signals today while showing off her trophy by saying that she gets so wrapped up while playing she needs reminders about when to drink, eat, etc.
Last night Mary Carillo said it was coaching and thus not allowed. But I find that hard to believe given 1) how blatant it is and 2) no warning from the USTA given all the publicity around "bananagate."
Given all the hype around Agassi's retirement, I was happy to see that the second week of the tournament was focused on the people that still remained. Nothing against Agassi and all due credit to his career but the montage was getting old pretty fast. You would think the networks would have made more than one given the magnitude of the event but no.
Was I the only one who thought Agassi's post-match on-court remarks were incredibly schmaltzy? I guess I wasn't that surprised given the speech he gave at Steffi Graf's induction into the Hall of Fame a few years ago. At least this one was shorter.
I discovered this Open that I am not a fan of Vera Zvonerava. I was largely ambivalent about her before but after seeing her play in person (against Dementieva) and in the doubles final today I have decided that she is kind of bratty. All her huffing and pouting is getting old--especially as Zvonerava gets older. And she looked pissed off today when Srebotnik and Safina actually were discussing strategy between points. I was surprised at her impatience.
Despite the very disappointing score in the semis, I think Mauresmo has had an amazing year. If she turns in a semi-decent fall hard court season I think she will be the indisputable number one female player of the year. But if I were her I wouldn't even feel the need to play this fall. Everyone knows tennis needs an off-season, anyway. Take it off, Amelie. Drink some fine wine. Tool around Europe on your motorcycle. You deserve it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

So not the drama

Very good match in progress between Jelena Jankovic and Justine Henin-Hardenne. Well it was good until the third set anyway--we shall see what happens.
When I tuned at the very start the first comments I heard were about all the "drama" on the women's tour. Mary Carillo called Jankovic a "drama queen" and John McEnroe said she was in good company. The genesis of the comments was the observation about all the injuries. Injuries of course seem to lead to a preponderance of trainers jogging out to the court during matches. I know this happened with Henin against Davenport but I hadn't seen Jankovic call a trainer (though admittedly I have not seen every match.)
I object to the term "drama" as it has been applied acritically to the women's tour. I know I have said this before but I feel the need to reiterate. I also think it's interesting that the term is usually just applied to the pretty girls on the tour. Henin calls the trainer--whether out of necessity or not, and we'll get to that in a sec--and it's games(wo)manship. Davenport calls the trainer and we get into a discussion of how old she is and how much longer she will be around. Jankovic lets it be known she has a back injury--she hasn't called a trainer yet this match or in her quarter round match--and she is a drama queen. The moniker is applied because she has personality on the court. Because she is "feisty."
My second gripe is that the commentators are talking about of both sides of their mouths with this one. There's plenty of commentary about the length of the season; the lack of a true off-season; the scheduling of the summer tournaments. All factors that everyone believes have lead to the preponderance of injuries this year certainly and for several of the past years. But when these injuries are being attended to we get "drama."
OK that's it. I am going to let this topic lie now. Promise. Well unless McEnroe says something particularly egregious. So I guess may be posting again within the hour.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Is that a banana you just waved at me and do you want me to eat it?

Maria Sharapova faced a tough test last night in the US Open quarters playing Tatiana Golovin. It was an interesting match with many breaks of serve and Sharapova pulled it out in the end in two tiebreakers. The match of course was not without its controversies.
First, Golovin, down 0-3 in the first set tiebreaker, went to the chair, asked for the trainer and sat down in her chair quite resolutely. She had a large blister on the bottom of her foot and the trainer came out and taped it.
Did I mention it was 0-3 in the tiebreak though?
I thought this was appalling and certainly done as a form of games(wo)manship. Yes, I saw the blister; it was large and red-looking and I am not denying it was painful to play on even after it was taped. I have had large blisters on the bottom of my feet from tennis and they hurt a lot and the commentators were right: the actual taping feels odd and does not completely eliminate the pain. But I think unless you are unable to walk or swing your racquet or near death you wait until a changeover or at least the end of a game. Golovin's blister did not look new--it was too big and too ripped up looking. While she may have aggravated it, it was not a new injury. She could have taken care of it before the match. A pre-existing blister, hard courts, Maria Sharapova--she must have known it would have to be taped at some point. That point should have been either before or after the tiebreak--not during.
But most of the controversy came from Sharapova's end. The grunts of course. Golovin lodged a complaint. Sharapova shrugged it off saying she doesn't really care what her opponents think of her. I am not opposed to grunting but I do think continuing to do so at such a high decibel after complaints have been made is a form gamesmanship. Sharapova, despite notions to the contrary, can control her grunting. It isn't innate. It changes decibel levels throughout the match depending on the score. If you can control the point of contact, the amount of spin, the grip on your racket, the bend in your knees, you can control the sounds coming out of your mouth.
But by far the most interesting moments last night (outside of some very good points) came during the changeovers.
Sharapova's father and coach, Yuri, has been accused of coaching from the sidelines and last night we saw a form of that. He pulled out a banana and shook it in his daughter's direction while she was sitting down. What happened next? She pulled her own out of her bag and took a few bites. At another time her agent held up a cup to her and she pulled out and drank some kind of elixir.
It was comical. I was actually on board with Tracy Austen's take on the signals from the box. It's not a form of coaching according to officials because it doesn't "assist in strategy." I think I would disagree with that but regardless of the technical definition it is ridiculous that they do it at all. Talk about micromanagement. They don't know how she feels on court at that moment yet they are telling her what to put in her body and when.
It is surprising to me given how mature Sharapova seems in interviews and on the court. She appears very much in control of her life and her game. How much of this is a facade though I have to wonder. Has she bought in entirely to her father's take on her life, career, bodily functions?

Maybe. But she's not admitting it:

Sharapova's father, Yuri, kept a watchful eye on the match. He seemed to signal his daughter at one point when he pulled a banana out of his bag. Moments later, she took out a banana and ate it during a changeover.
"Is it a coincidence? Probably," she said.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Commentators say the darndest things

There is one good thing about the commentator line-up this US Open--no Brad Gilbert. Since he got his coaching gig with Andy Murray the commentating has been just a little bit better. Now if only someone would hire away John McEnroe.
But Gilbert's absence doesn't mean all is well in commentator-land. Last night Tracy Austin, in a discussion about Benjamin Becker, was dismayed by all the European players coming to the United States to play collegiate tennis--coming and taking up all the scholarships that should go, Austin reasons, to American players. She wants a limit of 2 "foreign" scholarships per team.
Hmmm...interesting. Sport is, theoretically, a "may the best person win" kind of endeavor--so if the Europeans are doing the best job then they should get the scholarships. And given Americans' love of (the myth of) meritocracy, one would think Tracy Austin would appreciate that these young Europeans are coming over and working hard for their place on the team. But I guess meritocracy only applies to those already living here. All the hard work one may put in in another country just doesn't count.
But in the end Austin's comment really just reads as highly xenophobic. Despite our immersion in a global economy, Austin believes that Americans deserve (whether they have earned it or not) preferential treatment in American colleges. She fails to see the benefit of non-American students attending American universities. She also clearly does not understand that European recruiting is one of the least egregious aspects of the current win at any cost philosophy of big-time collegiate athletics.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

US Open Blogging

I was one of the lucky ones. I had tickets to the day session on Friday. This meant I saw a lot of tennis and got out just as the rain that cancelled that evening's tennis began. Of course anyone down at the Billie Jean King USTA Center today must be psyched--great matches all day.
But Friday was pretty good too. Here's my report:
First of all, I have to admit that this trip to the US Open was a little different from my other excursions in the past. One, it was cold: pants and sweater all day long. No sun at all. And this was actually a good thing. Too often it has been sweltering down in Flushing and it just zaps your energy. You can't sit in the sun watching a match for more than 30 minutes at a time. So I was quite pleased--plus much time is saved not putting on additional coats of sunscreen.
Another big difference this year: I never set foot inside Ashe Stadium. We had the tickets but didn't go inside. The matches scheduled were fine but the stuff that happens on the outer courts in the first week is usually far more interesting. (In hindsight it wouldn't have been bad to see see either Henin-Hardenne or the Blake on Friday but it takes so long to get up to the seats that by the time we realized they were interesting matches, it was too late.)
But I was much more content watching the last set and a half of the Vaidisova/Jankovic match on court 11 and the Dementieva/Zvonareva contest on the Grandstand. I also saw great doubles including the Bryan-Morariu/Bryan-Navratilova match (well the first set anyway) and good teams such as Stubbs and Black and Shaughnessy and Groenefeld (who look nearly twin-like when on court with their matching blond ponytails and Adidas outfit).
When I go to the Open I want to see what I know I would never see on television. And since I knew that bad weather was approaching I figured this was even more important as the weekend would be filled with previously taped matches.
The Open crowd seemed a but more savvy than the folks in New Haven--for example I didn't hear anyone complaining about the length or level of the women's matches. At the Peer/Schiavone match, where there were several Israeli flags flying and words of encouragement in Hebrew, it was obvious that most people knew why this was a good match to come see--even if it was on court 4. Of course the women in front of me, as we walked in had this conversation:
"Why are we here again?"
"I don't know--because it's that Israeli woman."
I guess that footage played at Wimbledon (or was it the French?) about Peer and her army duties created a lot of publicity for her. The crowd was clearly on her side.
The only comment I overheard that made me groan was a young guy who in discussing with his friends which match to watch next said "I want to check out those Russian Amazons." I kind of just stared in disbelief at him. I think he thought he was being complimentary. But it read, to me, as a move to reassert his white male power over women who are taller and likely stronger and faster than he, by deeming them abnormal--i.e. Amazons.
But surprisingly that was my only negative experience of the day. Well except that all I got for USTA member appreciation day was a can of "commemorative" tennis balls. I guess I didn't really need another bag or cooler anyway--gifts from past years. And I did get a free soda that would have cost me $4 inside the grounds. Woo-hoo!