These are very dark times in the two most prominent global sports played by solo athletes.
What is even darker about June of 2022 is that the very thing one tennis major THINKS it is policing — but isn’t — is actually happening in golf, and neither sport is coming up with the right response.
It isn’t complicated; it’s simply embarrassing for both sports and the two major tournaments being held in the second half of June.
Wimbledon looked at the world’s geopolitical situation and decided to ban Russian and Belarusian players simply because of their nationality. Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka played no role in providing material assistance to Vladimir Putin, and Putin isn’t going to reconsider his war effort in Ukraine because a couple tennis players can’t compete at Wimbledon. Yet, The All-England Club — instead of doing something clearly positive — “positive” in the sense of adding to a level or kind of assistance which tangibly improves people’s lives, such as giving food and clothing to Ukrainians in distress — has chosen to punish and restrict innocent people solely because of where they come from, not for any immoral or unethical act. Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, Sabalenka, Victoria Azarenka, and others are being punished simply for being who they are.
Wimbledon’s actions are deeply morally offensive, but beyond that, they’re tactically fruitless. Moreover, reports have emerged this week that various attempts to sanction Putin are not meeting their intended goals. Russia is not thriving, we can acknowledge that, but sanctions have not prevented the country from reaping profits from oil and natural gas prices. Bloomberg News has more on all of this.
Preventing tennis players from playing Wimbledon was always laughable as a punishment of Putin and the nation of Belarus. Who came up with a ridiculous idea like that? It’s hard to know which is worse: the stupidity of this act by The All-England Club, or the immorality of the same act?
Meanwhile, golf has the actual problem Wimbledon erroneously perceived with Putin and Russia.
In golf, the LIV tour has players knowingly taking Saudi Arabia’s money. Players are knowingly giving material aid and global geopolitical legitimacy to a murderous, despotic regime. This is precisely the reason why Wimbledon could have legitimately banned Medvedev or Azarenka IF — IF — they had provided material aid to Putin. In that case, OF COURSE a ban would be warranted.
But as we know, Wimbledon didn’t find that any Russian or Belarusian player did such a thing. No, it simply banned players because of their nationality, nothing more.
Has the United States Golf Association — which runs the United States Open, taking place this week in Brookline, Massachusetts — banned LIV golfers? Nope.
Tennis (Wimbledon) is punishing innocent players. Golf (the USGA) is failing to punish guilty players.
In the midst of all this, tennis players aren’t boycotting Wimbledon in spite of the manifest injustice on display. At the U.S. Open golf championship, one can only imagine the conversations between LIV golfers and PGA/European Tour golfers in the clubhouse, on the practice range, and on the course this week.
It is a very dark time in these two sports played on grass. Wimbledon is out for blood, while several golfers are accepting blood money. It makes a person lose faith in humanity.
It’s a rock-bottom moment for both sports. I find it utterly impossible to care about any result at either of these major tournaments. Where are the adults, the leaders in the room? I can’t find a single one.