While we here at Tennis Inside Out are generally more concerned with the entertaining, funny, inspirational, and artistic side of tennis, our extensive engagement in the community of Tennis Twitter compelled us to share our thoughts on a certain thread of animosity going on in our corner of social media.
We guess most of you will recognize the issues we’re talking about here, and we did not want to capture any tweets or point any fingers or make any accusations of individuals. We do not want to unfollow or block people we often enjoy reading. We love getting as many different perspectives in the tennis world as we can. So this is simply an offering of our perspective, and a plea for harmony. We appreciate you taking the time to read.
Look, we get it. America has many Issues. Especially this week. The United States is a big, powerful country that just elected an uninformed, narcissistic, sexist, bigoted, perpetual liar as President. It can be hard for people, particularly those outside the U.S., to understand why anyone would think this guy should be even let into the White House as a guest, let alone as the guy with keys to everything.
This outrage about the new President has understandably poured onto Twitter, as people try to make sense of what is happening. On social media they have found several American tennis players who are diehard Republicans, who think we made the right choice in the election.
Since it is still (and hopefully this will not change) a free country, it is totally cool to disagree with their views. Or hate their views. Some of them are very offensive. Feel free to dislike that person or ignore them when they play. Feel free to attempt to engage in meaningful discussion with them, as former pro James Blake has done. Our problem is with the segment of Twitter who thinks that if they spew enough bitter snark, rage, venom, and politically-unrelated hurtful comments at people they disagree with, the world will somehow become a perfect Utopia. You lack moral high ground against xenophobes and bigots when your tweets essentially (or outright) say anyone with an opposing view should be killed with fire.
We did not vote for Trump. We are outraged by and ashamed of many of our fellow Americans. We do not like to think about what the next four years might bring. Our family and friends fall into the categories his most rabid supporters would like to evict from the country. We get the seriousness of all this.
However, we do not want to participate in maligning an entire country’s worth of players, whether they’ve said anything offensive or not, and by extension, sending hate tweets to anyone who wants to support them. From personal experience, I can tell you, this makes us actually start to feel like siding with people we don’t even agree with. This is insane, but human nature can be insane.
Our own perspective may differ from yours. But living in Middle America, in a very conservative area, with some conservative family members, we may understand more where things went wrong. We understand that people are raised in religious, conservative families, and right-or-wrong, believe what all of their family, friends, and church leaders tell them. We know a lot of people who are not going to do any of the hateful things you think they are going to do, despite voting for Trump. We ask you to read this excellent article in the Harvard Business Review, if you care enough to look into this issue further.
Once again, you are free to disagree with us. You are free to dislike any player. We personally do not want to add to the level of hate that is already out there. We also can’t help feeling hypocritical to loathe Americans for their political views, when we have little in-depth knowledge about many of the other country’s political climates, or what those players’ personal convictions are. We could very well be enamored with a player whose views on life could be far worse than the ones we dislike.
We totally agree that it can be difficult to separate a player on the tennis court from what they say on social media. It is a complex issue, and we certainly don’t have all the answers. Sometimes we like someone despite their lesser qualities. Sometimes we find that we can’t. And we are not asking anyone to embrace someone they loathe. All we ask is to try not to increase the level of negativity that is already at an all time high…to please consider that someone you think is Evil might just be misinformed, or immature, (or let’s be real, maybe not that bright)…and consider the collateral damage when you are on your crusade.
Sports is a wonderful part of the world’s culture. It brings all different kinds of people together, and international sports like tennis can help fans learn way more about other countries than school or their local media could ever tell them. People find sports figures inspirational when they triumph in a game or match, and fans find blissful escape from their daily lives by cheering on their favorite players and teams, talking stats, news, drama–even fashion and gossip.
The world is already a mess in so many ways, it would be nice if one of the places people can find positivity would remain that way. Maybe it can’t. But since we here at Tennis Inside Out have always been all about the joy and fun of tennis, we would like to think that it can.
Thanks for reading.