Freeman Cebu Sports

Collateral Damage

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

Sports are powerful venues where athletes take a stand for or against social issues. But recently, some of them refuse to stand and instead kneel in support of the black lives matter movement. Way before, two men raised their clenched fists in the Olympic podium now known as the iconic black power salute. Symbols are powerful and untouchable, otherwise desecrators are declared undesirable, especially by those who cannot sense the humor of a parody.

It’s not only the athletes that take advantage of their global platform, organizers too. Two weeks from now, Daniil Medvedev, Viktoria Azarenka or any of their compatriots will not see action at Wimbledon. The grandest slam excluded players from Russia because it invaded Ukraine. It likewise banned athletes from Belarus because it paves the way for the invasion, otherwise known as complicit. But tennis federations did not exactly like the sanctions. It instead sanctioned Wimbledon by stripping the oldest slam of ranking points, but not the spiraling pound sterling for pounding sterling performances.

But it’s not always about money, especially if you have more than enough like the triumvirate of sports billionaires LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. It’s more about glory. Never mind the money, especially if you’re an amateur athlete from a country of insensitivity.

But John Isner is fixated to ranking points. They are tennis currency. That is why star players lost interest, including Naomi Osaka, although she collated all possible reasons not to play, from her vulnerable mental health to the irrepressible probing press whose dogged pursuit for scoop violates privacy and breaches security. The invasive paparazzi largely account for the tragic demise of the world’s most loved princess, not only because she looked more queenly than the one who wears the crown but because she humanized royalty. The lady rocked the All England Club box reserved for the reserved. She broke protocol to be with the people.

The wisdom of the traditionalist Wimbledon is under scrutiny. It did not spare players who may even be against their own country’s foreign policy foreign to diplomacy. It stands louder and clearer against a war that has not settled any thus far. No one listens if it doesn’t hurt, be it by word or sword. Largely why others arm after failed charm.

Other tournaments forged a win-win solution by allowing Russian athletes to play without the name of their country, otherwise known as compromise. But not Wimbledon, the most prestigious grand slam tournament in the world is too secure it minces no words. It may lose some, but players lose more. It is bigger than any player, including the king of grass Roger Federer, or all players combined. The tournament survived world wars and a pandemic, it triumphs after a fortnight no matter who wins or loses. It writes history and chooses who is part of the memory.


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