Retired tennis great and CBS Sports commentator John McEnroe raised hackles last week when he said that female tennis players are competing in more matches "than they're capable of." Noting that several top-ranked women were sitting out the U.S. Open due to injury or fatigue, McEnroe argued that "there should be less events for the women" than men, because the current schedule is "asking too much of the women." Sexist or not, does McEnroe raise a valid point?
What a classic foot-in-mouth Mac blunder: McEnroe can be a "savvy and insightful" tennis commentator, says Victor Lana at Blogcritics Sports, but this is one of those times he's "politically incorrect to the point of embarrassment." Billie Jean King shot down the "fallacy" that female tennis players can't do what men can when she beat Bobby Riggs years ago, and Big Mac should admit his mistake and apologize.
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McEnroe has a point: Yes, McEnroe was "blunt and politically incorrect," says David Johnson in The Florida Times-Union. "But was he totally wrong? Absolutely not." Too many top women really are withdrawing from tournaments because of injury. So are men, but if McEnroe's wrong about women's stamina, then "the rules of tennis [are] politically incorrect," too: At Grand Slam events, men play best of five, women play best of three.
Mac's not just wrong, he's a "serial offender": Given that top female players already have a lighter schedule than last year, says Johnette Howard at ESPN, McEnroe's call for more cuts is especially "demeaning" — not to mention chauvinistic and unmoored to "nuisances like fact." If you look at the tennis greats, the women often play longer and harder than men. This is nothing new from McEnroe, but his sexist "schtick is beyond old."
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