Monday, September 25, 2017

The Battle That Vexes

There's an odd sentence in Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's A.V. Club review of Battle Of The Sexes, a film about the 1973 Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs tennis match:

...the most damning proof of the sexism of the era's tennis culture is the fact that Riggs was ever considered a favorite to win.

Far from being the "most damning proof," it's not proof at all. Riggs--and the movie shows this--had already easily beaten Margaret Court, who herself had beaten Billie Jean King.  After that it made sense he'd be the favorite.

When challenged on this point in the comments section, Iggy notes that anyone who knows tennis knows that Riggs would do better against Court's style than King's.

So that's his most damning proof?  That the people of 1973 were flawed because they didn't have the complex technical knowledge of tennis that explained after the fact why Riggs lost?

The odd thing is it's easy to find sexism in that era, so it's weird that Iggy picked something that doesn't show it.

One can only guess he wrote this either to remind us of his moral superiority to people back then, or to demonstrate his arcane understanding of tennis.

Meanwhile, in April Wolfe's review in the LA Weekly, she complains that the concerns about sexism back then are still relevant today:

Hell, John McEnroe said in June that Serena Williams would be "like No. 700 in the world" on the men's circuit.

And this is sexist because why?  Because she believes Williams would be truly competitive on the men's circuit, or because it's not nice to even bring up the differences between men and women in sports?


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