2016 continues to be the year of the jackass. Yesterday, Raymond Moore, former pro tennis player and current CEO of the BNP Paribas Open Tournament, offered his contribution toward pushing masculinity back two steps more.
Moore was recorded saying that female tennis players should get down on their knees every night and thank God for the sport’s men because they carry the sport. He went on to elaborate that they don’t make any decisions and ‘ride the coattails of the men’. Of course, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King jumped right in to denounce his comments and defend their work as well as the work of all women in tennis.
Wow. This is what it looks like when an undercover sexist is revealed. It’s kind of like that feeling when someone is pretending not to be a racist, but when they get super comfortable around others who they feel share their beliefs, they let the truth slip out. Moore must’ve felt he was in a comfortable environment where he’d find support for his dated and disrespectful views. He must’ve known how insensitive these comments were. What person, man or woman, would ever dare to let this kind of filth slip out without some kind of inkling that people in the room would support them?
It’s scary to think that someone who holds a position of power in the sport views the female athletes this way. These are athletes who command multi-million dollar endorsement deals and successfully branch out into other fields of business. If anyone has helped the sport gain visibility and popularity, it has been the women. Serena Williams was Sports Illustrated’s 2015 Sportsperson of the year. Not Rafael Nadal. Not Novak Djokovic. Or any other male tennis player.
Because of the female players, tennis has become a mainstream obsession and not just a niche sport with a cult fanbase.
For a man to insinuate that the women of the sport don’t work as hard is insulting to everyone. As men, we should be able to celebrate our female counterparts and acknowledge their success while still pushing forward in our own pursuits. Moore makes us out to be bad sports. He’s crying foul because the women are getting continued strong press coverage and major deals. But insulting them won’t change anything. If the men of the sport want the same opportunities, they need to increase their marketability.
But let us not forget that the successful men of the sport can take home more than double what the women make for winning the same tournaments. Last year, both Djokovic and Williams won 3 out of 4 grand slams as well as other doubles and minor tournaments. Williams took home just over $10 million in prize money. Djokovic took home over $21 million.
Moore’s comments paint the picture of a bitter sourpuss. A retiree of the sport that’s jealous of the younger generation’s fanfare, opportunity, and equality. He’s the Archie Bunker of the tennis world. At a time when she should simply view men and women as equals and at a time when women’s rights are front and center in the public conversation, he shows a lack of awareness and sensitivity that’s dangerous to the sport. And in a year where Donald Trump, Kanye West, and countless others are making men look like brainless sasquatches, he’s pushing masculinity back into caveman territory. It’s an unnecessary setback. Here’s hoping that Serena challenges the old fart to a charity match so he can see just how much those coattails he speaks of don’t exist.