Interesting. Tennis is a 3-player game?

I don’t tennis, and I don’t watch the game on TV, so I’m always being surprised by new facts. For instance, women’s singles tennis is actually a game between two women and a man sitting in a high chair, who is an asshole.

Chair umpire Carlos Ramos managed to rob not one but two players in the women’s U.S. Open final. Nobody has ever seen anything like it: An umpire so wrecked a big occasion that both players, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams alike, wound up distraught with tears streaming down their faces during the trophy presentation and an incensed crowd screamed boos at the court. Ramos took what began as a minor infraction and turned it into one of the nastiest and most emotional controversies in the history of tennis, all because he couldn’t take a woman speaking sharply to him.

I guess this means Carlos Ramos won the US Open. Does he get a trophy? At least, do some sports journalists meet him in the locker room to stick a microphone in his face and ask him what was going through his mind during his big win?

I don’t understand sports, but I think I understand masculine arrogance.


  1. specialffrog says

    I do watch tennis. During the 2009 men’s final, Roger Federer — who is the closest man to Serena in number of major titles (he has three fewer) — spent an entire changeover berating the umpire. He even swore during his rant, which is its own code violation. I think the umpire told him to calm down.

  2. Steve Bruce says

    Yeah, I agree with specialffrog above. Umpires seem to be extremely sexist and in this case a bit racist too. Roger Federer is one of the better behaved players on the men’s side. The abuse that other male tennis players direct towards the umpire and get away with is astonishing. If Serena did even 10% of her male counterparts she would probably be banned.
    What’s even more problematic is that when male players show aggression on the court, many ex players and commentators praise them and say they are adding some colour and excitement to the sport and they should not be harshly punished.

  3. liberalpersuasion says

    Well at least PZ admits he doesn’t know what he is talking about and apparently neither do some of the commentators here either. The fact is her coach was coaching from the stands, which is illegal, per the rules. She was given a warning. Nothing sexist about that. She then smashed her racket later during the match and was penalized a point for doing so. Them’s the rules. Nothing sexist there. Finally, the berating of the judge was primarily because of the warning she received because of coaching from the stands. She claimed he stated she was cheating, which he did not. He certainly, by implication, accused the coach of doing so, and the coach admitted to doing so. She then accused the coach of sexism, which is ironic, considering her opponent is female. Finally, to accuse this umpire of being racist is truly despicable, considering her opponent was Haitian and Japanese. Serena was getting her butt kicked and truly committed a classless act of tarnishing the match for Osaka. Serena is a great player, but she has flaws and not accepting defeat with class is one of them.

  4. says

    Steve Bruce – (#2)

    The 1990s was the era when women’s tennis became a strength game, criticized for “boring play” because there were so many service aces. It was a literal arms race, and other players caught up to where they’re all physically strong now. Women players were all much larger and stronger than players of the 1970s and 1980s, and many of them elicited sounds during play due to the physical effort involved (i.e. serving and returning harder shots).

    Women like Monica Seles and many others were chastised for “grunting” or “shrieking” when they hit the ball. Note how the media chose to use pejorative words, to openly attacked and insulted women for “not being ladylike”.

    As with male players’ tantrums at umpires, male players’ grunting went without comment. Only the women were criticized.

  5. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    @Steve Bruce,

    To be fair, the commentators I heard on ESPN were all on Serena’s side. Of course, they were all women (and former players). Meanwhile, Serena continues to be one of the most impressive and admirable athletes people out there, with her graciousness after the match in putting the spotlight on Osaka and her thoughtful press conference afterwards. But I feel sorriest for Osaka, who played an amazing match and didn’t deserve to hear the boos in her first major championship.

  6. Steve Bruce says

    I won’t deny that Osaka was playing better and deserved to win. And I also won’t deny that Serena does behave badly at times and she deserves to be penalised when she steps out of line. My only problem is other players especially men do a lot worse and get away with it. No point denying that.
    In fact one of the things that upset me was that this was a historic moment for a wonderful young Japanese woman whose moment was ruined.

  7. says

    I like how everyone seems to be accepting of the initial violation as Kosher despite that rule doesn’t make any god damn sense. I’ve yet to see a coherent explanation for why “coaching” is against the rules. I can’t think of any other sport where athletes are barred from receiving instruction mid game (match, whatever). It sure seems like a stupid rule.

  8. specialffrog says

    @liberalpersuasion: First of all, the coach did not admit to it. In fact he said he has never been accused of coaching from the side in his entire career.

    Secondly, receiving illicit coaching is cheating, ergo he was accusing Serena of cheating.

    And while the racquet smash was a clear code violation— and one men get called on routinely — giving Serena the third violation was disproportionate. As noted, Federer and other male players have done worse and not received a violation.

  9. says

    My only problem is other players especially men do a lot worse and get away with it. No point denying that.

    And by that same judge, too!
    “Rules” that are only selectively enforced aren’t ensuring fairness, but a way to unfairly punish/reward players.

  10. Steve Bruce says

    To some of the commentators above, there is no doubt that Serena’s coach violated the rule by coaching her mid match. He has pretty much admitted to it on Twitter. But as he and many others pointed out mid match coaching is rampant especially in women’s tennis.
    Also I’m not going to claim that Serena did not do anything wrong- she absolutely did. But consider her situation too.
    The question is simply one of applying the rules equally across both the women’s and men’s game.
    Also it’s interesting to note that in the men’s game the top ranked players pretty much get away with many violations but in women’s game Serena particularly seems to get pulled up very often.

  11. petesh says

    @3, @8: What Serena’s coach said was that what he did was normal, that her opponent’s coach was doing the same thing at the same time, that Serena wasn’t looking at him and that Nadal’s coach was notorious for doing it. Calling that illegal coaching is not in itself an indication of sexism, but it is definitely an indication of unfair and unpredictable application of the rules. Technically, the umpire was correct; practically, he was out of line. (For baseball fans, consider the strike zone, which is notoriously defined on the fly and variably, even by the best officials.)

    Sure, Serena lost it. It happens. More often with men than with women, I think, and they very rarely get more than a warning. What the umpire should do in that situation is calm things down, and if the angry one is Federer (or even Kyrgios) that is what generally happens. Sexist here? Yeah, sure seems like it. Certainly ruined the match; a third set would have been wonderful.

  12. wzrd1 says

    The question is, do both players consider it objectionable.
    If they did, it would be entirely appropriate to walk away from an unfairly adjudicated match and let an empty podium receive the trophy. That would deliver an appropriately strong message and enrage the sponsors sufficiently to address problematic adjudication.

  13. trevorn says

    Sure there’s anger and tantrums and bad language and ranting in the men’s game as much or more than in the women’s game. However, there’s a big difference between using foul language, telling an official they’ve made a mistake, telling an official they’re incompetent, and (as in this case) telling an official that they are dishonest and will never be allowed to work again. And Serena has form for this last one.

  14. popeye977 says

    PZ and many commenters: if you do not understand sport you cannot comment on this fact in an informed way.

    Even if professional “sports” are just business, sport by itself is about respect. You respect the rules, you respect your opponent(s), you respect the referee/umpire.
    You also accept decisions that you think are wrong, or use the proper channels to complain.

    Serena Williams didn’t.

    She was wrong with the coaching: her coach admitted he tried to direct her, which is a violation. It doesn’t matter if she didn’t see her coach: that was a violation, and she should have directed her rage against her coach. Every sportsman knows that the responsibilities are shared in a team.

    She was wrong when she smashed her racket. This demonstrates lack of control and respect.

    She was wrong when she accused the umpire to be a thief, a sexist, a racist.

    Ramos simply applied the rules. Saying that male players get a different treatment is a nonsense: are you accusing Carlos Ramos because you think that other unspecified umpires didn’t do their job properly, while he did?

    I also read comments like “the coaching prohibition is a stupid rule” or “everybody does it”. Sorry but sport simply doesn’t work in this way. Rules are there to be followed: you can chose not to, but if you get sanctioned you must take it.

  15. says

    Did you bother actually reading about all the instances where Ramos did not penalise male players for similar behaviour? Maybe you’re not the person to lecture others on “not knowing what they#re talking about”.

  16. says

    @15 popeye977

    There’s two separate issues related to the no coaching violation that are of interest to me.

    1) The first and overriding one is, sans any explanation, it seems like a stupid persnickety rule. Why is gods name are tennis players barred from communicating with coaches during a match? Of course Williams should have to follow the rules. I’m not arguing otherwise. I’m arguing that the rule doesn’t make any sense to begin with, because it is what is really bothering me.

    2) How often is the no coaching penalty called? What counts as “coaching”? And to what degree did Williams’ coach’s action step outside the norm on this point? Everything I have read, from third parties, is that the no coaching is called infrequently, most coaches give instruction in some manner to their players and what he was doing was exceedingly mild.

    A rule which is called inconsistently for the slightest of violations at the whim of the umpire is being capriciously applied. It strikes me as unfair.

  17. Steve Bruce says

    Thank you for spectacularly missing the point.
    As for respect for the sport, how is it respectful to apply the rules inconsistently?

  18. popeye977 says

    Also: in many sports, calling the umpire “a thief” would get you thrown out of the playing field, no matter your sex/race.
    And saying that while taking offence because “I don’t cheat” is pathetic, and demonstrates total selfishness. This is not sport, is some rich athlete who became too arrogant to remember the meaning of sport.

    (…and calling out for sexism while the umpire sanctioned the actions of a man is incredibly childish.

  19. vucodlak says

    @ popeye977, #15

    sport by itself is about respect

    I’m caught between laughing and vomiting; I’ll settle for gagging. On what planet has sports ever been about respect? Sport is about winning (source: every godsdamned coach and serious player I’ve ever had the misfortune to interact with), and to hell with everything else. Professional sports is also about money, yes, but the people who care about making obscene amounts of money care because money is how they keep score.

    I understand sport. That’s why I hate it with a passion.

    As to the topic at hand:
    I admit that I know next-to-nothing about tennis, but if the umpire penalized Serena Williams more harshly than he does male players for the same behaviors, as seems to be the case here, then it’s a pretty clear-cut case of sexism.

  20. screechymonkey says

    First of all, Osaka was kicking Williams’ ass, and the notion that there would have been a third set but for the umpire’s rulings is sheer fantasy.

    Now, to review the key decisions by Ramos:

    1) The coaching violation. Caught on camera by ESPN, and admitted by Williams’ coach. I agree that the coaching rule ought to be enforced more often, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s against the rules, the coach clearly violated it, and the player is responsible for the actions of her coach. By itself, this was just a warning — it was Williams’ refusal to let this go that exacerbated the situation.

    And while it’s not strictly relevant to Ramos’s rulings, note that Williams’ statements are directly contradictory to the “everybody does it” defense that many are offering on her behalf. Williams did not argue that “everybody does it, why are you calling this on me, she said that coaching is cheating and how dare you accuse me of cheating, I’m a mother and wouldn’t do that, you owe me an apology. It sure looks like Williams was lying and displaying a phony sense of indignation, but even if I bend over backwards to be generous to her and assume that she wasn’t looking at her coach and wasn’t aware that he had been signaling to her, which he did for the first time ever because she refuses to accept it even though her coach thinks it’s no big deal… well, at best, she was factually wrong about what her coach did, and it’s she who owes Ramos and apology, not the other way around. Again, not technically relevant to the on-court rulings (lying and false indignation are not themselves Code violations), but certainly undermines Williams’ claim to the moral high ground.

    2) The racket smash. You can sometimes get away with a toss or kick of the racket, if it doesn’t smash the racket or endanger anyone, but breaking the frame as Williams did is an automatic Code violation. I’ve never seen anyone get away with it. A second Code violation is an automatic point penalty, so there was no discretion there. I haven’t seen anyone knowledgeable about tennis fault Ramos for this ruling.

    3) The verbal abuse violation. I admit there’s a fair bit of grey area here, and perhaps in an ideal world Ramos would have given her an informal warning (“I don’t want to have to give you another Code violation, which would cost you a game, but you’re coming very close to that line and need to back off.”), but (a) this is by no means required, and is far from some established standard; (b) Williams’ disrespectful behavior didn’t earn her any favors; and (c) Ramos may have concluded (with perhaps some justification) that this would only have made matters worse. The reality is that Williams did not just dispute a call or argue with the umpire’s judgment, she accused him of corruption and threatened his career (implying that she would use her influence to ensure he doesn’t get to do any more prominent matches — which is not an entirely idle threat). She made all of those comments not just in a quiet discussion with the umpire, but loudly enough for the crowd to hear and with accompanying gestures and body language intended to undermine Ramos’s authority. I have never seen Federer or any other player “get away” with that kind of behavior. And Williams, having accrued two Code violations — whether she thought them merited or not — should have been a hell of a lot more careful in her behavior.

    In the various media reactions, I’ve seen some rather uniformed comparisons to John McEnroe. Here’s the thing about Mac: although today everybody in the tennis world seems to treat him as the sport’s lovable grouchy grandpa, during his career he was highly controversial. The media often referred to him as a disgrace; Arthur Ashe threatened to kick him off America’s Davis Cup team; the All-England Club broke its longstanding tradition of granting honorary membership to the Wimbledon champion. And he received plenty of formal punishment. Most, if not all, of his famous tirades earned him Code violations, even ones that did not involve obscenity: he was penalized a point for calling Wimbledon officials “the pits of the world.” He accrued fines and suspensions. He was once defaulted from the Australian Open for the following behavior: silently glaring at a linesperson (warning), smashing a racket (point penalty), and directing an audible obscenity at an official (at that time, a third Code violation was a default).

  21. says


    I can think of a few baseball managers, Earl Weaver, Joe Maddon, etc., who routinely say far worse and don’t get ejected every game. There’s also video upthread of Ramos enduring worse from male stars from other tournaments.

  22. screechymonkey says

    For those asking why tennis doesn’t allow coaching,* here are the traditional arguments. For what it’s worth, I tend to agree with them, but don’t feel very strongly about the issue — though I think that if you’re going to have a rule, you need to enforce it:

    1) Much of the appeal of tennis is the idea that you’re on your own out there. It’s just you versus your opponent. (Well, except in doubles, and that’s an interesting point in itself — although most recreational tennis players play more doubles than singles, the singles game is an order of magnitude more popular than doubles when it comes to viewing.) It’s on the player to deal with his or her emotions, to come up with new strategies, etc.

    2) It evens the playing field between players who have a coach at the tournament and those who don’t. It’s easy to lose sight of this when we’re talking about the kinds of top-20 players who make grand slam finals, because yes, they all almost invariably have a coach travelling with them (and often a trainer, a racket stringer, plus various family members), but even at the professional level, you don’t have to go very far down the rankings — top-100 and even top-50 players may have a coach they work with back at their home base, but often can’t afford to have a full-time coach who they pay to accompany them to every tournament. And of course, these differences only get more dramatic as you go down the tennis food chain: if you’re playing in the “minor leagues” of tennis, there is no way you are making enough money to afford a travelling coach, so only players whose families can subsidize their careers could afford them. And at the junior levels, obviously, there’s no prize money at all. Of course, lower circuits and junior circuits could still retain a no-coaching rule even if the pro tours went full legalization, but there’s a tendency for rule changes to trickle-down because everybody figures if it’s good enough for the pros, it’s good enough for us.

    *There are exceptions. Team events like the Davis Cup and Fed Cup have traditionally allowed it. At non-Slam events, the women’s tour has been experimenting in recent years with allowing coaching, although only during changeovers and only if the player exercises one of a limited number (one per set) of coach requests; attempts to coach from the stands are still punishable.

  23. upprunitegundanna says

    As some have said, the rule against coaching on the court is a dubious one: hand gestures and signalling can very easily be given inadvertently in the excitement of a match, so there is both a high chance for false positives, and also a high chance of instances of actual coaching going unnoticed. So either the rule should be that coaching is allowed during the matches, or that it is not, and coaches are not permitted to be present on court. Since many coaches are family members and even husbands/wives, this seems too harsh, so I would go with the former option.

    Having said that, Patrick Mouratoglou admitted to coaching, so on that point Carlos Ramos did correctly enforce the rule. It is not Serena’s fault that Patrick did that, and I believe her when she says she didn’t see it, but her anger should be directed towards Patrick and not Carlos.

    Racquet abuse is the most common type of code violation in tennis, and is enforced increasingly strictly, as it can damage the court surface (especially on grass), can be dangerous (splinters) and simply looks bad. The standard WTA regulation on racquet abuse states that players who “violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw a racquet or other equipment within the precincts of the Tournament site” will receive a point penalty. The case for the point penalty against Serena was pretty cut and dry.

    The trickiest instance is the final one: there is something unavoidably arbitrary about whether an umpire feels that they have been subjected to sufficient verbal abuse to warrant penalisation. It is ultimately their discretion which determines the outcome. There may be times when a player goes over the line, but the umpire is not feeling particularly punitive that day, so it slides; and there may be other days when a player does much less, but the umpire is feeling more punitive. Finding examples of someone doing worse and not getting penalised, is not proof of anything; it is an inevitable outcome of a rule that is more subjective than objective.

    The system of warnings, code violations and penalisation in tennis is cumulative, i.e. if a player has recently received a warning or penalty for their conduct on court, subsequent violations will be viewed more harshly. Carlos Ramos’ decision to dock Serena a game was harsh but within the rules of tennis.

    Ramos has been one of the top tennis umpires for over a decade, and has probably adjudicated well over 1,000 top-level matches, about 50% of which would be women’s matches. So the idea that he has a specific problem umpiring women’s matches is ludicrous.

    Serena Williams is one of the most admirable people on the planet, but it has always been known that she has a fiercely competitive streak, which mostly results in awesome tennis, but occasionally spills over into bad behaviour on court. This was one of those occasions, and I think Ramos adjudicated correctly.

    Serena is not quite back to peak fitness yet after having her first child, and it is an immense achievement that she reached two Grand Slam tournament finals back to back since her return. She didn’t need to be at peak fitness to brush aside all the other players. But in the final she was playing someone who is destined to be a superstar in her own right, and who was an unstoppable force this past fortnight. As someone who is used to being the unstoppable force herself, I think this was very frustrating to Serena, and was a major contributor to what was some rather regrettable behaviour.

  24. screechymonkey says

    Maroon @21:

    popeye977, can you find one case where a player has been sanctioned for receiving coaching in a major tournament?

    Not popeye, but that’s easy.

    Here’s a reference to Gregor Dimitrov getting assessed a Code violation for coaching in the ATP Finals.

    From an ESPN article that is generally sympathetic to Williams, and critical of the coaching rule:

    Such code violation warnings aren’t rare or unusual. (At least two other players received code violations for coaching, including Dominika Cibulkova was also assessed a coaching violation in her third-round match.)

    This article mentions some coaching controversies at Wimbledon, and notes a coaching violation assessed against Kuznetsova.

    And finally, though this was on the Challenger circuit, here is a player getting hit with a Code violation, apparently erroneously as the person in question wasn’t his coach.

  25. popeye977 says

    @20: you don’t understand tennis (by your own words), and you do not understand sport (this is crystal clear from what you write). For other answers, see @22

    @21: Williams was not sanctioned for coaching, she was given a warning.

    @22: thank you, your comment is perfect.

    @23: tennis is not baseball. And there is no reason to infer that Ramos acted out of sexism apart from Williams unsupported claims, and she even threatened Ramos to use her power to damage his career: show me a video of Ramos being thus threatened by a male player without giving a verbal abuse penalty.

  26. screechymonkey says


    I believe the fines are pretty much automatic for Code violations, unless the violation is rescinded for some reason. (E.g. Alize Cornet was erroneously assessed a violation for changing her shirt on-court during this tournament; officials later clarified that although women are allowed to go off-court for shirt changes, they aren’t required to do so.)

    Here’s an article mentioning fines to Fabio Fognini and Nick Kyrgios on the men’s tour.

    Oh, and Serena Williams herself was fined $82,500 for her behavior during the 2009 U.S. Open final, during which she gestured threatening to a lineswoman while saying “I swear to God, I’m f—— going to take this f—— ball and shove it down your f—— throat, you hear that? I swear to God.”

  27. screechymonkey says

    For what it’s worth, I generally like Serena Williams. She’s a tremendous player, and has been great for the sport. I love having the (arguably) greatest women’s player of all time come out of Compton, and have mostly sidestepped the USTA junior circuit. She’s certainly put up with her share of shit, including some racism at the Indian Wells tournament.

    But there’s an ugly side to Williams, too. The behavior at the 2009 final that I referenced above was pretty awful. Her self-righteous tirade yesterday was hard to watch. It’s not unforgivable by any means, and other players I liked have also engaged in shitty behavior, so it’s not disqualifying by any means. But I can’t pretend it’s not there.

  28. vucodlak says

    @ popeye977, #28

    you do not understand sport

    I have a long and unpleasant history playing sports that disputes your asinine claim, but I’m going to answer that by sharing just two moments in my history with sport- my worst, and my best.

    My worst moment in sports came when I was about 12 years old, and in sixth grade. Some of my friends wanted to play football, including one of my best friends, a girl who I also had a crush on. I had a football someone had gifted me for reasons unknown, so I brought it to school and we played with it during recess.

    One day, most of the group we played with (including the girl I liked) wasn’t at recess for one reason or another. There were only 5 of us, not enough for a game, so we just tossed the football back and forth to each other. Not being especially good at catching, I dropped or missed the ball a lot, even when it was right to me. My friends noticed this.

    When the ball pegged me right in the crotch, I thought was an accident. I laughed along with my friends, in breathless kind of way, as I writhed on the ground. I thought they were standing around me out of concern. So I was shocked when one ‘friend’ pegged me on the back of the head I tried to get up, knocking my face into the grass and bloodying my lip.

    I tried to get up again. They did it again. And again, and again, and again. Whenever I tried to move, or stand, or get away, or yell for help, they threw the ball as hard as they could at the back of my head. Even when I finally gave and lay there with my arms covering my head, sobbing, they kept bouncing that ball off me until the end-of-recess bell rang.

    They ran off laughing. I spent a while in the bathroom before I went back to class, cleaning myself up and trying to get myself under control so that no one else would see that I’d been crying. I didn’t do a great job, apparently, because the girl I liked asked me what was wrong. Nothing, I said.

    I never mentioned it again to my ‘friends,’ but I never brought the football back to school after that either. No, I took it home and took a knife to it, imagining the throwers faces under it with every stab.

    The proudest moment in my athletic career came later than same year.

    Every year, my grade school had a pair of schoolwide track meets with another area school; one at our school and one at theirs. Each grade had two separate teams, the away team and home team. Those who competed in the away meet didn’t typically compete at home, and vice versa, so that everyone who wanted to compete got a chance.

    Everyone was strongly to participate in the games, but it was supposed to be strictly optional. Those who didn’t want to compete at all were often “punished” with cleanup duties, which was just fine with me. I’d have preferred to push a broom and empty trash cans to sports any day. Hell, I intentionally snuck in to detention to avoid being goaded into practice, because doing homework was more enjoyable.

    However, my sixth grade teacher hated me (the feeling was mutual) because I’d gotten her in trouble earlier in the year by complaining about her habit of telling bible stories instead of teaching science class. She saw how much I hated sports, so she signed me up for the at-home 100 yard dash and the shot put.* She told me that if I didn’t complete both events, she’d dock my grades. She knew damn well that if I came home with a bunch of “C”s my parents would hurt me.

    The shot put was nothing; I couldn’t throw worth a damn, but nobody watched it anyway. The 100 yard dash, however, was one of the biggest events at our little meets. My asthma had been particularly bad that year, so it was a pretty safe bet that I’d be dead last in the race, and I might even collapse on the track. The biggest problem was that the track was entirely grass, to which I am highly allergic. A collapse was all but guaranteed, and everybody would be watching it. My teacher knew all this- it was intended to humiliate me.

    On the big day, I took my place on the starting line. When the shot was fired, everyone took off at a sprint, except for me. I walked it. No; I moseyed it, nice and slow. Once or twice I almost stopped entirely. Hundreds of people booed and screamed abuse at me from both sides of the track, but I just kept my eyes front and my head held high as I meandered slowly towards the finish line. Everybody had to wait for me to finish before the places would be announced, and they waited a loooooooong time.

    I didn’t speed up until I was past the finish line. I got out of there fast- people were pissed that I’d turned their precious ritual into a mockery. I hadn’t flipped off the crowd as I’d walked, but my smirk had been almost as good. I came in last but, as far as I was concerned, I’d won. I hadn’t played their game. I hadn’t crawled and choked for their amusement. My grades suffered for my little stunt, but it was worth it.

    That’s what sport means to me. One day it’s a prolonged act of inexplicable cruelty from people you thought were your friends, another it’s answering spite with spite. There is no “respect” in it. You’re a winner, or you’re a loser. Winners can get away with doing just about anything, and no one gives a fuck what’s done to losers. Whatever is done to us is exactly what we deserve, and if we don’t like it, then we shouldn’t be losers. Competition brings out the worst in us, and no amount of pretty lies and gilded trophies will ever cover be enough to cover that fact up.

    So don’t tell me what I don’t understand.

  29. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    It’s amazing what servile fucking sheep “IT’S SPORTS” makes some people.

  30. popeye977 says

    @31: you had some bad experience with bullies. I can be sympathetic (would be easier if you learned to summarize a bit), but this has nothing to do with sport. Your first example was actually kids playing together, come on…

    You have no reason to believe me, but I can assure you that sport is the opposite of what you experienced. It is about learning to compete without disrespect; to follow rules even when it’s difficult and you don’t like them; to give everything you have to win, but to thank and congratulate your opponent if you lose, without complaining; it is learning that you are struggling to overcome your limitations, not fighting against someone. And it is having fun with other people.
    I played a bit of basketball, lots of volleyball, orienteering, free climbing and kickboxing. Never, in any of these disciplines, I threatened someone, or dreamed to address a referee the way Williams did.

    @32: It’s amazing how you make silly statements without bringing in any argument.

    Talking about sheep: you took Williams (and PZ) position without asking what really happened. Which is this:

    Williams, after behaving like an asshole, tried to use her power to bully Ramos. Williams is rich, famous and influent: she can easily damage Ramos (who is the weak party, outside that playing field).

    And assholes like you are saying that it is Ramos’fault, because he didn’t let Williams intimidate him, but he possibly was intimidated by some unspecified male player in the past?

  31. Rob Grigjanis says

    vucodlak @20:

    On what planet has sports ever been about respect?

    This one, with almost everyone I’ve played with, in soccer, squash, racquetball, and other sports, at varying levels of competitiveness, and varying levels of my own (and others’) competence. Yes, there have been some douchebags, even douchebag teams, but in my experience they’ve been a small minority. I’m sorry your experiences have been so negative.

  32. says

    if everything makes you tick to shout “sexism” you lose credibility when you talk about real sexism.

    Just stop being US chauvinist, look outside of the Williams fanboys (and fangirls) and you will realise, that everyone who knows anything about tennis says Ramos did what he was expected to do.
    And how can you blame referee for Osaka’s tears? She was booed by tribal assholes who believe that being US, being a star, being powerful, means you can get away with anything. Sounds a bit like Republicans.

    @pzmyers Don’t be a rich, privileged asshole who accuses rule enforcers of persecution for not obeying your whims when you broke the rules.

  33. says

    @35 who said “Just stop being US chauvinist, look outside of the Williams fanboys (and fangirls) and you will realise, that everyone who knows anything about tennis says Ramos did what he was expected to do”

    That is simply not true. Every current play who commented, every past palyer who commented including most of the great of the game, all said that Ramos was out of line. The analysts on the TV broadcast agreed and even the WTA itself made a statement about unfortunate decisions and referred to Serna as always playing with class.

  34. popeye977 says

    @36 anna.
    You probably refer to US players, because outside US most tennis experts agree that Serena Williams was unprofessional and aggressive without any reason.
    Is it clear to you that Serena Williams lied from the beginning, and that there are recorded proofs of this? Just one example: she denied having being coached, while his coach declared -in a broadcast interview- that he actually did it (“but everybody does it”, was his excuse).

  35. Cynical Skeptic says

    I have watched most all of this tournament from the beginning includinig all of Serena’s matches. I also watched all of Osaka’s matches. I was cheering for Serena and wanted her to win. However she was CLEARLY beiing outplayed by Osaka. This is why she mangled her raquet and got the code violation – because she was losing the match. Usually she can come back because her opponents are so far inferior but in this case Osaka was playing great throughout. She lost it after losing the point and spiraled out of control becuase she was offended because she thought she was being accused of cheating. She was on her way to losing and the player who deserved to win won, This outburst by Serena more or less ruined the amazing tournament and match played by her 20 year old opponent and Serena clearly realized this after the match and during the ceremony. Osaka is likely to become a star in the sport.

    I think the umpire could have handled it better but ultimately the cause of Serena’s loss was her opponent and the cause of the meltdown was Serena. By the way her coach said something like “yes 100% I was coaching her”. That is not and the umpire did not say Serena herself did anything.

    This is not a unique event as Serena had an even worse meltdown and behaved absolutely unexcusably in 2009 and was fined $175,000 for something she clearly did (tv footage proved it) but yet lied about and denied doing. She refered to that in her outburst as if this was ongoing persecution.

    Despite what I happened I am a fan of hers but consider HER behavior in this case in the wrong. She lost the match and her composure. But she did not lose the match because she lost her composure. She got her ass beat by a great young player.

  36. fentex says

    …all the instances where Ramos did not penalise male players for similar behaviour?

    Does similar mean “aggressive, challenging and insulting” or “accusations of dishonesty”?

    I can easily imagine a umpire / referee in any sport being harsher on someone who accuses them of dishonesty as oppossed to a player just being angry and worked up.

  37. petesh says

    @22: Williams was up 3–1 in the the second set; that was when I for one was hoping for a third. Osaka broke back, it’s true, but the set was still finely poised until everything went south. The score was 3–3 when the point penalty was issued.

    @35: have a look at this Guardian piece:
    Certainly Ramos is capable of being an asshole to men, as well as women. Here is Andy Murray, responding to a code violation:

    “I didn’t say ‘stupid umpire’, I said ‘stupid umpiring’. But if you want to be the star of the show, that’s fine,” said Murray as the two spoke during a break between games.

    Hmmm, so that didn’t deserve a follow-up, huh?

    I like Nadal’s comment (same link) that:

    “The umpires are here to analyse the match and they are not here to use the stopwatch. There are some who like to take part in the matches more and who like to put more pressure on than others. If you want to see good tennis, you have to let the players breathe a little.”

  38. says

    read carefully article you quote

    in case of Andy Murray he got penalised so that cannot prove accusation of Ramos being sexist
    In the article he is called stickler to the rules and golden badge referee, author stays as far away as they can from issuing their own opinion, it is just a piece showing other decisions that players were angry at Ramos (male players mostly).

    The only accusation that article itself (not quoted player) uses is that Ramos never did sth like that in such high stake game.
    Which is stupid. Why players should ba allowed to be rude during Slam final?

  39. says


    My baseball comment was in response to you claiming that in “many sports” calling an ump a thief would get you tossed. That’s not true for baseball, I don’t know for other sports but I have seen Joe Maddon call an ump a p*ssy and not get tossed. Maybe thief is shocking in the WASPy world of tennis but it’s not a horrible insult at all.

    As for video Ramos enduring worse from male stars, Gil already provided it. But her again:

    Also Ramos didn’t levy the verbal abuse violation because of Williams threatening to tank his career so I don’t know why you keep bringing up.


    Thanks for the explanation. But yeah it still seems pointlessly persnickety.

  40. vucodlak says

    @ popeye977, #33

    Your first example was actually kids playing together, come on…

    Yes. Beating someone bloody while they beg you to stop is all just a game, as long as you use a ball to do it. I must have consented to that interaction without even realizing it. Clearly I don’t understand the rules of playing catch… but that’s not the point of this discussion thread (though I do think the fact that competition brings out the worst in people, and encourages even otherwise good people to do evil is a part of this matter). I just couldn’t leave “sports are about respect” left undisputed when it’s so obviously false.

    As to the assertion that #22 answered the third paragraph of my comment at #20: no, it doesn’t. I didn’t dispute that she may have penalized within the rules. I said that, if the rules were applied to her more harshly than they typically are to male players who are guilty of the same infractions, then it is a clear-cut case of sexism. What matters here is that people who are apparently in the know about such things are saying that male players who behaved the same way Williams did are not penalized nearly as harshly.

    Hopefully this doesn’t double-post.

  41. VP says

    This is hilarious. The Guardian has a piece about the umpire being sexist, right below which they have the following article:

    which has a list of other players who have had complaints about the umpire, the majority of which are high profile men’s players (Djokovic, Nadal, Murray…you cannot get higher profile on the men’s side than that).

    The reality is that Serena behaved really badly, throwing a tantrum because she was getting beat by a 20 year old. She, realize this was a bad look and tried a bunch of xcuses to dig herself out, including sexism.

    It’s also appears true that the umpire, as suggested in the article, is a stickler for the rules, and he pretty much did what the rules suggested he should do. Nothing he did was outside the rules. But it’s also almost certainly fair to say that he should have availed of the judgment that the tennis rules allow the chair umpire to not impose an unprecedented game penalty on Serena.

    That’s not because she didn’t deserve it, or her behavior didn’t warrant it (as the on air ESPN commentators pointed out, of which 1 was a man and the other a woman, you rarely see a game penalty because most players shut up after a warning, and the ones that don’t, almost certainly do after a point penalty). Ramos should have refrained from the game penalty because he should have known it would take away from Osaka’s certain victory and made the final all about Serena which is apparently what she wanted.

    And with all the millions companies have spent on making Serena look good (Chase and Nike both have ads praising the hell out of her), it’s no surprise that media figures are on her side even though they know she was absolutely in the wrong here. It would upset too many Apple carts to recognize that Serena screwed up. What she did wasn’t the end of the world, and not even as bad as her behavior in the US Open a few years ago, when she threatened a lineswoman. She could have easily accepted that she screwed up (which no one could hold against her considering that we all know she is an emotional player, and it was obvious she was in a tough position), but she has decided to dig her heels in, and the tennis establishment clearly has no choice but to agree, because of the tremendous amount of money she generates.

    So what if you may potentially ruin the career of a young Haitian-Japanese woman, who idolized Serena. Those Nike millions need to be protected.

  42. methuseus says

    No matter what anyone has said in the defense of it, I don’t see how calling someone “thief” is so much worse than repeated expletives. Those sorts of epithets are pretty common in soccer, rugby, football, baseball, and I’m sure other sports. I’ve only seen players or coaches censured when they got in the ref’s face and play could not continue at all. It didn’t appear that Williams was acting in that way, no matter how heated she got.

  43. ajbjasus says


    I wouldn’t include rugby in that statement. Of all sports it’s generally where respect for the ref, in both league and union is a given.

  44. popeye977 says


    Nowhere in the links you provided I see a male player using his fame and power to threaten the umpire about his career. So no, Williams’s behavior is not comparable.

    But you and may commenters actually miss the point. It is not so, but just to understand your point of view, let’s make these temporary assumptions:

    1) Serena Williams’s coach didn’t signal her, and Carlos Ramos was wrong on the coaching warning.
    2) Smashing the racket can be excused, and Carlos Ramos should not have penalized Williams for this
    3) She was therefore right in being enraged with Ramos when she screamed at him

    4) There are male players which in the very same situation did the same thing and were not sanctioned.

    The question for you is: even in this situation, can you explain how Ramos not letting Williams’menaces intimidate him to the point of removing the sanction can be seen as sexism, just because he was intimidated by some male player in similar situations?

    When did having the strenght to not get bullied become a fault, due to not being able to do it in every situation?

    …and this is a point we should not even start to discuss, since alle the hypotheses are false. But still, please explain.

  45. rydan says

    I don’t know why the umpire is getting so much hate. He did nothing wrong. Serena was cheating and her coach admitted it but I guess that doesn’t matter to people. All the examples I’ve seen why this is wrong or sexist is because other male umpires have let other male tennis players do worse without penalty. OK, so maybe the problem is the other male umpires then. They need to all start enforcing the rules using this umpire as an example of how to do it.

  46. says

    A collection of the sexism at this year’s US Open:
    The Women’s Tennis Association backs Serena:
    Alize Cornet was penalized for briefly removing her shirt, something that never happens to male players:
    The women’s double’s winners were not allowed to speak after winning the trophy so the men could play. I have watched tennis all my life and never seen this:
    Just prior to the US Open the French open president attacked an outfit Serena wore for health reasons:

  47. popeye977 says


    We are not discussing about sexism in US Opens. As a sidenote, I personally agree that there is, and I also consider tennis a classist sport: but we are discussing a very specific situation: was Ramos sexist? Try and answer my question in @48, will you?

    (speaking of sexism: look at what happens in beach volley. Up to a few years ago they had rules for the maximum width of some parts of women’s bikinis…)

  48. says

    @51 You are assuming the men intimidated him (Ramos) into it. He has never once claimed that they did. There is no sign that the men threatened him physically and tennis associations nearly always supports the officials so that is a weak assumption on your part. An equally valid assumption is he was ok with men getting away with it but not a women. Therefore sexism.

  49. call me mark says

    I recognise vucodlak’s description of “sports” more than anyone else’s on this thread. Dog-damnit I wish I’d thought of that “walking the hundred yard dash” trick. Much respect!

  50. shoukori says

    Many of these “well just follow the rules” arguments feel very much like the same arguments we hear when a black man is killed by a cop in this country. “well if he had just put his hands up as the cop said”.

    She was treated unfairly because that is not how everyone is treated. Full stop. THAT is why it is sexist/racist/what-have-you. It doesn’t really matter what the rules are, whether she broke them, etc. If nitpicky rules are enforced against her that are not really enforced against most people, that makes it unfair.

    In addition, the umpire appears to have been treating her in a way he must have known would lead her into making angry comments at her. If his job is supposed to include de-escalation of conflict, he did exactly the opposite, and could be said to have been deliberately leading her to this conclusion.

  51. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    screechmonkey@27, fair enough. Still, the rule seems to be capriciously applied.


    @21: Williams was not sanctioned for coaching, she was given a warning.

    An official warning in tennis is a sanction. The rules are clear: there are three levels of sanctions for code violations. The first violation results in a warning, the second in a point lost, the third in a game lost. If Ramos hadn’t warned her for the coaching, her breaking of the racquet would have resulted in a warning, not a loss of a point. She made it clear afterwards that she thought he had rescinded the warning; that’s why she was so incensed.

    Is it clear to you that Serena Williams lied from the beginning, and that there are recorded proofs of this? Just one example: she denied having being coached, while his coach declared -in a broadcast interview- that he actually did it (“but everybody does it”, was his excuse).

    I take it you’ve never seen Rashomon, or read The Sound and the Fury.

  52. says


    Williams was not sanctioned because of alleged threat to the ump’s livelihood. She was sanctioned because she called him a thief. (or at the very least it was so jumbled together as verbal abuse it isn’t clear which insult bothered him). Your fixation on this point is weird.

    As for your hypothetical you seem to be under the misconception that an action can be sexist OR justified. If Ramos was unable to stand up to male players who “threaten” his livelihood but holding a similar situated woman player to heel it is sexist treatment. It is literally holding men and women to different standards. Ramos would both be right to hold Williams to account because her behavior crossed a line. But she also would be right to complain that men are not held to that standard. The solution here is to hold men to the higher standard. pot is illegal for everyone in a lot of the country. It is still racist that people of color get busted for it more.

    There is also the question of why Ramos would be able to stand up to women but not men. Williams is probably the most powerful tennis player in the world (through I must say I find her threat toothless) and a similar situated man wouldn’t have this off court clout. I would wager Ramos felt less threatened by Williams because she is a woman which is loaded with all sort of sociological implications.

    If Ramos is only able to not be bullied by women, because women are so less threatening to him, he is acting sexist even if he is right to stand up for himself.

  53. popeye977 says

    shoukori @54:

    Many of these “well just follow the rules” arguments feel very much like the same arguments we hear when a black man is killed by a cop in this country. “well if he had just put his hands up as the cop said”.

    Oh my god…
    When this happens, the nazi cops are not actually threatened by the black men. On the contrary Serena Williams did threaten Ramos .Williams went crazy after cheating, furiously breaking the racket, and screaming threats and insulting the umpire. She was not shot for this, just given the proper penalty. If your problem is that some male didn’t get the same treatment, then go back to @48.

    In addition, the umpire appears to have been treating her in a way he must have known would lead her into making angry comments at her. If his job is supposed to include de-escalation of conflict, he did exactly the opposite, and could be said to have been deliberately leading her to this conclusion.

    Basically what you are saying is “Ramos got threatened and bullied by Williams who leveraged on her power to get away with it, but it’s not SW’s fault, it’s Ramos’ for not taking the bullying and menaces without reacting.
    Go tell this to abused women, let’s see what they do think.

    Maroon @55

    I take it you’ve never seen Rashomon, or read The Sound and the Fury.

    You can take whatever you want: no clever quote can deny the fact that Serena Williams lied about the coaching. Rashomon: sure, I’ll use this quote the next time I’ll have no arguments at all but still need to cast some doubt on my opponent’s statements trying to appear clever and learned.

    @56: your comment is so incoherent it would take too much effort to answer.

  54. deepak shetty says

    I guess this means Carlos Ramos won the US Open.


    but I think I understand masculine arrogance.

    You mean the sort that deprives a woman of a well deserved victory ? Especially when she was an underdog facing a highly partisan crowd ? Atleast Serena was gracious enough to recognise this later.

    I find it ironic that an incident that could be described as (mostly american)Tennis fans downplay asian underdogs (of mixed descent) victory against colored American superstar by attacking foreign referee ,has one side throwing accusations of racism and sexism when the same could be said of them.

  55. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    no clever quote can deny the fact that Serena Williams lied about the coaching. Rashomon: sure, I’ll use this quote the next time I’ll have no arguments at all but still need to cast some doubt on my opponent’s statements trying to appear clever and learned.

    If you need the argument spelled out for you: Serena’s coach made a gesture telling her to move closer to the net; thus, he coached her. However, Serena did not see the gesture; she thought her coach was giving her a thumb’s up. Thus, she did not receive the coaching, and so did not lie. (And when she was arguing with the umpire, there was no way that she could have known that her coach had admitted to coaching, because he hadn’t done so yet, and even when he did, he did so only to the TV audience, not to the stadium.)

  56. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    @deepak shetty,
    I don’t think anyone here is arguing that Serena would’ve won. And for the record, I for one was rooting for Osaka, and was glad to see her win despite it all.

  57. says


    I’ll make it simple.

    Any time an alleged neutral official holds men and women to different standards in similar situations that is sexist treatment. It doesn’t follow from that the standard women are being held to is the wrong one.

    If Ramos allows for himself to be “bullied” by male players but won’t allow female players to “bully” him he is still acting in a sexist manner even if he is right to not allow himself to be “bullied” by female players.

    There is also why Ramos feels more comfortable standing up to women. It very well might have to do with male privilege making women seem less threatening to him.

    You are trying to argue that treating men and women differently isn’t sexist because the treatment the women are receiving is “justified.” That’s horseshit. Sexism isn’t (just) unjust treatment. It is unequal treatment.

  58. popeye977 says

    deepak @58
    Exactly so. It’s appalling to read a post from someone who declares he knows nothing about sports, he doesn’t understand them, has deep biases (since he and most of the media that covered the news are from the same country of SW who lost against a foreigner, and also because of his attitude about women), but feels the need to attack the umpire accusing him of “masculine arrogance” without one reason in the world.

    Mike Smith @61

    Sexism isn’t (just) unjust treatment. It is unequal treatment.

    This is more than enough to understand that all of your comments are bullshit.
    Anyone who knows something about education (for example) can explain to you why equal treatment and just treatment are two different things, and that seeking equality without justice is a huge mistake which brings to…well, to treating people in an unjust way.

  59. screechymonkey says


    So what if you may potentially ruin the career of a young Haitian-Japanese woman, who idolized Serena. Those Nike millions need to be protected.

    Let’s rein the rhetoric in a bit. Osaka’s career is not going to be ruined by this. It won’t even be adversely affected. I’m sure it was hard emotionally for her to have her moment of glory marred by the fans’ booing, but she’s proven that she’s mentally tough as hell when it’s time to play. She’s fantastically talented, and barring injury will almost certainly claim more titles in the future as well as lots of endorsements.

    shoukori @54,

    Many of these “well just follow the rules” arguments feel very much like the same arguments we hear when a black man is killed by a cop in this country. “well if he had just put his hands up as the cop said”.

    I’m mindful of that, but I think the comparison is rather flawed. An umpire is not a cop. Constitutionally you have every right to be rude or disrespectful to a police officer; the same is not true of a tennis umpire. When you play competitive tennis, part of the deal is that you knowingly agree to play by the rules of the game, and those rules include not verbally abusing officials.

    You can, of course, argue that Williams’ verbal abuse was singled out for special treatment compared to other players. But tennis players really do have to follow the instructions of, and avoid showing disrespect to, the officials, so it really isn’t unreasonable to say that yeah, Williams bears at least some responsibility for not doing so. It certainly isn’t tantamount to blaming the victim of police excessive force.

  60. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To popeye977

    Sexism isn’t (just) unjust treatment. It is unequal treatment.

    This is more than enough to understand that all of your comments are bullshit.
    Anyone who knows something about education (for example) can explain to you why equal treatment and just treatment are two different things, and that seeking equality without justice is a huge mistake which brings to…well, to treating people in an unjust way.

    You’re being a rules-lawyer (and not in a good way).

    There are the rules as written, and then there are the rules as actually played, and then there are the rules as intended. Very often, these are very different things.

    Tangent: In D&D, this comes up so often as to have standard acronyms: RAW for rules as written, and RAI for rules as intended. In D&D, most people generally despise rules-lawyers who argue that the group should follow RAW even when it’s in contradiction to clear RAI and when doing so would be very silly. Such people are also often munchkins and powergamers.

    Let me give a comparison from a sport which I am familiar with, which I hope will make my position clear. I follow e-sports, aka competitive video games.

    In one of these competitive video game leagues, a few years ago, there were a few non-American players playing in the American league which is played in America (League Of Legends, North American LCS). At that time, very few of the foreign players had the proper VISAs to be working in America, and they were working; they had full time employment and earned a substantial salary. Instead, these foreign players were in America on other sorts of VISAs, usually tourist VISAs, which was a violation of the law.

    Everyone in the scene knew that this was going on, including all of the other teams and the league organizer (Riot Games).

    In the official written rules (maintained by Riot Games), there was a rule that said any player must have the proper VISA in order to play in the league. Thus, many players were playing in violation of the rules (and also in violation of American law), and everyone knew it.

    This status quo was upset a few years ago. It involved one of the owners of one of the teams – let’s call him “Reggie” and let’s call the team “TSM”. TSM was a team where all of the players were American citizens or had the proper work VISAs. Some of TSM’s biggest competitors at the time had foreign players who didn’t have the proper work VISAs. According to some rumors, Reggie purportedly made public these facts, so that certain players on certain other teams could not play, so that his team TSM would have a better chance of winning.

    What actually happened was chaos – many of the teams suddenly started fielding substitute players, and the results of the entire season were in disarray because of it. (Perhaps slightly exaggerated, but exaggerated for a point.)

    At a facile level of analysis, Reggie purportedly did the honorable thing by bringing this rules violation (and legal violation) to the public in order to fix it. However, what Reggie purportedly did was quite dastardly. He was following the rules as written, but not the rules of the game as currently being played and understood by everyone else. He violated the rules that actually mattered, even if they were not written down, in order to earn a competitive advantage. His purported actions are a violation of the competitive integrity, aka fairness, even while following the written rules to a T. In this world based on rumors, had Reggie cared about the competitive integrity, aka fairness, but also wanted to fix things for the better, he would have quietly informed the other teams and the league organizer that they need to fix the situation, and everyone should have a grace period before he goes public, say, next season.

    I offer this as an example where following the rules as written is 1- morally wrong, and 2- also fundamentally in conflict with the spirit of competitive integrity, aka fairness.

    I offer this as an comparison for how something can be 1- sexist and morally wrong, and 2- also fundamentally in conflict with the spirit of competitive integrity, aka fairness, and 3- yet also in full agreement with the official rules as written. If the umpire violates the rules as written for male athletes, but follows the rules for female athletes (to the detriment of female athletes), then this is sexist, and wrong. The solution is not necessarily to require umpires to break the rules for women in the future. That is a possible solution. Another possible solution is also to have umpires follow the rules as written for male athletes. Either is acceptable. However, it’s also totally reasonable and acceptable to complain about the umpire’s behavior with Serena Williams, even if it is rules as written, and it’s grossly unreasonable to say “you shouldn’t complain here; you should go spend lots of your time about something you might not care about, and scrutinize all male games, and find instances of rules-as-written violations, and complain about those instead” – that’s asinine.

  61. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Addendum: I should mention an important part of my analysis: before Reggie purportedly went public about the VISA situation, there were lots of players playing with tourist VISAs, and everyone in the scene knew this, and it had been going on for many, many years.

    Worse, I think even Reggie and TSM had players who were playing on tourist VISAs in the past, but they got their foreign star player a work VISA, and only then when the time was right did they go public to force their competitive to bench some of their foreign star players who didn’t (yet) have proper work VISAs.

    In summation, official rules on paper are only so much ink and paper if they’re not followed. The real interests of fairness depend on the real rules of the game, which may sometimes differ from the rules that someone has written down somewhere. That’s the central contention.

  62. says


    You read my statement in the least charitable way imaginable. I also never said anything seeking equality over justice. I’ve been clear that Ramos should not, not hold Williams to the higher standard but he should have held men to the higher standard. And if he is unable to not be intimidated by men he should not be a chair ump.

    You are laboring under the impression that the justifiable application of a rule can’t be sexist. That’s flatly false. A shit ton of sexism, racism, etc. are reasonable and justifiable rules being applied in unequal manner. To use a really easy example, I don’t think there is any really argument that a nation-state doesn’t have the right to control who may enter and live/work within its borders. As such, any time say an undocumented Mexican national is deported it is probably a justifiable action. I don’t have any qualm with the underlying framework in terms of justice (through it is not my policy preference). However, given the Trump administration and ICE are applying laws in a discriminatory manner by basically ignoring white skinned undocumented immigrants to focus the brown skinned ones of course it is racist.

    You are, prima facie, arguing that holding a man to a lesser standard than a woman isn’t sexist. If both a male star and a female star “bully” Ramos he needs to stand up to them. If he only stand up to the women, yes he is acting in a sexist manner. That’s the long and short of it.

  63. popeye977 says

    @64-65 EnlightenmentLiberal
    Sorry, your comment is too lenghty. Started losing interest with the D&D unrelated parallel, and finally lost you when you started talking of e-sports like sports.
    D&D is great, but it’s not real life. E-sports are fun and nice and everything, but they are not sport.
    And in real-life sports you must follow the rules. In very specific situations you don’t, but only when following the letter of the rule would go against the spirit of the game, and when you do you make clear to referees and opponents why you are doing it (and they agree).
    Instead Serena Williams broke the rules very badly, and always against any concept of fair play and respect.
    She behaved like an asshole, fullstop.

  64. deepak shetty says

    @What a Maroon, living up to the ‘nym

    I don’t think anyone here is arguing that Serena would’ve won.

    Fair enough. But the host is awarding the match to the referee.

  65. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    And in real-life sports you must follow the rules. In very specific situations you don’t, but only when following the letter of the rule would go against the spirit of the game, and when you do you make clear to referees and opponents why you are doing it (and they agree).

    And even to this, I disagree. You say that this is about justice, about fairness. I say that following your guideline as described here will result in patently unfair situations, situations that violate competitive integrity. I described at length one real-world example. If you don’t want to read it, then fine.

  66. says

    popeye @57

    Oh, no you don’t.
    Do NOT drag abuse survivors into this, and don’t you DARE compare us to a douchey umpire who, in this specific analogy, should be compared to the abuser. He ABUSED his position of authority when he refused to enforce the rules on male players, but then enforced the rules more harshly than needed on a female player.

    GTFOOH with your sanctimonious sports fuckery.

  67. EnlightenmentLiberal says


    E-sports are fun and nice and everything, but they are not sport.

    Would you say the same thing about chess? Would you say that chess is not a sport? If yes, at least you’re being consistent in your (perhaps) elitism / snobbery. If no, then wtf?

  68. popeye977 says

    @69 WMDKitty — Survivor
    You can use CAPITAL as much as you WANT: this does not make your remarks less false.

    and don’t you DARE compare us

    I DARE to use my brains and not my guts

    to a douchey umpire

    umpire who did exactly what was expected from an umpire in that situation, and got insulted (and still is) for this

    who, in this specific analogy, should be compared to the abuser.

    The fuck. Serena Williams is the abuser here. The role of an umpire/referee is just to ensure that the game goes on smoothly and that everyone follows the rules. He did that perfectly. SW is a rich and famous woman who tried to intimidate the umpire out of frustration because she was getting her ass beaten by Osaka.

    He ABUSED his position of authority when he refused to enforce the rules on male players

    He refused nothing. And for sure, he refused nothing during that match. Lies won’t make you right even if you SCREAM them out.

    but then enforced the rules more harshly than needed

    which is your opinion. Unfortunately you are not the umpire, nor the supervisor that they called on SW’s request and who confirmed Ramos’decisions.

    on a female player.

    on a rich, famous, powerful, bullying, threatening player. Female does not make a difference: this is only what Williams threw in to try and get some support playing the victim.

    GTFOOH with your sanctimonious sports fuckery.

    You’re welcome. Just don’t think your screaming and insulting have any effect apart from making you look an asshole.
    Exactly like Serena Williams, by the way.

  69. chigau (違う) says

    SW is a rich and famous woman who tried to intimidate the umpire out of frustration because she was getting her ass beaten by Osaka.

  70. vucodlak says

    @ popeye977, #66

    And in real-life sports you must follow the rules.

    Again with this bullshit?

    What of all the blatant examples of cheating that even someone like me, a person who goes out of their way to avoid sports media, can’t help but be aware of? Deflate-gate, which, even if you think the consequences for that particular incident were sufficient, it is unlikely to have been the first and only time such a trick was used? Rampant (and largely unaddressed) steroid use/doping in [name your sport]? What about all the men who get away with the same crap that Williams just got penalized for?

    Even in my short personal history with sports I regularly witnessed cheating that went unpunished.

    Clearly, you don’t have to follow the rules in sports. You just have to avoid getting caught and called out when you cheat, which is apparently a lot easier to do if you’re a man. Hence the outrage.

  71. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    In relation to Tennis: women play best of 3, men play best of 5.

    That’s true only for the four major tournaments. Otherwise, both men and women play best of 3.

  72. Rob Grigjanis says

    EL @70:

    E-sports are fun and nice and everything, but they are not sport.

    Would you say the same thing about chess?

    Yes. If we go by common usage, this definition still holds, I think, for most people;

    An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

    And it has nothing to do with elitism. Just clarity. I don’t understand why some groups want to apply the word “sport” to whatever activity they’re involved in. Do they imagine it bestows some sort of cachet (vucodlak obviously doesn’t)? Maybe they want to be included in the next Olympics?

  73. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Rob
    It’s k. I just got a much more dismissive vibe from popeye977, with an implication that my story doesn’t apply, which is wrong.

    Arguing over definitions, like whether such and such is a sport, is one of the biggest wastes of time IMO. I was just checking whether popeye977 was being unduly dismissive of esports in general, and the relevance of my story, and being unduly dismissive of the seriousness of the scene, the amount of money in the scene, and the effort, dedication, and time spent by the people in the scene.

    Competitive video games are closer to the Olympics than you think (and I have weird feelings about that).

    The Asian Games, also known as Asiad,[1] is a continental multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation (AGF) from the first Games in New Delhi, India, until the 1978 Games. Since the 1982 Games, they have been organized by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), after the breakup of the Asian Games Federation.[2] The Games are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and are described as the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games.[3][4]

    Sport Years

    eSports 2018 only

    A lot of the normal League Of Legends schedule in Korea, China, etc., was rearranged in order to permit the players from the normal circuits in those regions to attend these games.

    Did I mention that I’m a giant nerd? Right now, I’m wearing a t-shirt that I bought yesterday in the Oracle Arena during the North American finals.

  74. Rob Grigjanis says

    EL @79: Double k. I’m well aware of the hugeness of egames, and more power to the people who participate in and enjoy them. They’re obviously hugely competitive and lucrative*, and involve a great deal of skill. But I would no more call them sport than I would call my workouts sport. The first because it’s not physical exertion, the second because it’s not competitive and doesn’t require skill.

    I am (or was, really) very fond of competitive Scrabble, although I could never have competed at the top level; memorizing two-, three- and four-letter words without caring about their meaning doesn’t appeal to me. Anyway, that’s not a sport either.

    *And, because it is a human activity, just as prone to abuse, cheating, and I dare say drug use as any pro sport.

  75. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To Rob
    Oh, I could regale you about the betting scandals in Starcraft where many pro players purposefully lost games in order for someone to win money on bets. Cheating in Counterstrike in online tournaments is widespread as well. Where money or fame is on the line, I expect there to be people who will try to obtain it through wrongful means.

  76. popeye977 says


    I was just checking whether popeye977 was being unduly dismissive of esports in general, and the relevance of my story

    why do you ask something that I already wrote?: What is not clear to you in

    E-sports are fun and nice and everything, but they are not sport.

    ? To make another example: close-up magic is terrific, requires incredible skills and training, but it’s not a fucking sport.

    I don’t know if your story was relevant or not: your comment is too long for me. Maybe you should consider synthesizing things up a bit.

  77. popeye977 says

    @73 vucodlak

    Clearly, you don’t have to follow the rules in sports. You just have to avoid getting caught and called out when you cheat,

    Ok, you are right and I am wrong. It is true: sports are horrible things where the only values are money, bullying the weaks, cheating as much as possible without being caught, doping etc.
    …so, in your opinion, Serena Williams -who got to the very top of her sport- must be an awful person who cheated and lied and broke every rule she could, all the way up to the top.

    So, why the hell are you complaining about her getting an unfair treatment? She deserved it and she should not complain, if this is what you think sports are…

  78. rq says

    Speaking of

    in real-life sports you must follow the rules

    Mano had a nice post up baseball. Athletic integrity and all that, though re: this discussion it’s neither here nor there, I guess…

  79. says


    I had a larger post that got eaten by the internet. Instead of re-writing it I’m just going to say you read my post in the least charitably way possible. I also have hypothetical to put my point across. Imagine a mother and father were both tried and convicted for physical abuse (same charges, equally culpable) against their kid. The judge sentence the father to 30 hours of community service. But he sentences the mother to 3 years prison (or whatever you consider an appropriate sentence). Is the mother in a position to complain about sexist treatment? I think you are committed to saying no which strikes me as wrong.

  80. vole says

    Osaka is a woman too. She was also affected by the umpire’s decisions. Accusations of sexism against the umpire seem a bit odd.
    Tennis has had a problem with enforcing discipline for many years. I believe it all goes back to John McEnroe, who was allowed to get away with the tactic of throwing a tantrum to put his opponent off, whenever he was in danger of losing. Since then, any attempt to combat disruptive behaviour has been liable to be regarded as inconsistency.

  81. mamba says

    I read the story end to end ( and came away with a few things.

    First, Williams was REALLY hammering on the “cheating coach” penalty, even when it wasn’t relevant. It seemed that once Ramos made the coaching violation call, Williams was constantly returning to it to justify her “not cheating”. Sure you’d argue it at the time obviously, but afterwards, she was bringing it up EVERY time. she even got him to admit to her that she was not cheating (but that he wasn’t going to remove the ruling on the violation)

    Then she broke the racket in frustration. Simple rule breaking, simple rule application, she was penalized for it. No arguments from anyone here? she then was confused and asked for clarification and when was told about the racket breaking she replies “Yeah, that was a warning!” and then brought up AGAIN the coaching call and started another fight. By the way, in what other sport can you smash your equipment, look the officials in the eye and say “That was a warning!” and NOT get some penalty? Seriously…she decided to restart an earlier fight instead, and demand that he publicly denounce himself right then and there…and since points are on the line then what, forfeit the entire game and restart? Subtract points for her opponent?

    Then she starts yelling at the official threatening his job and calling him thief and the like just in between serves. He refuses to apologize (by now she’s just yelling) and then SHE brings it up again after walking away…and Ramos gives the third violation. By this point she’s literally threatened his with assault, his career, called him every name in the book, argued repeatedly about earlier calls, and is clearly acting like a total asshole.

    Yet she STILL doesn’t get it, thinking it’s just because she called him a thief? (her words exactly) when by all rights she should have been thrown from the game by this point. If someone is now going to say “well men get away with this all the time!” I’d just say “they should be thrown out too then”. I’m really not seeing what this official did wrong, aside from waiting that long to punish her for what to me are pretty obvious rule violations.

    She kept saying “It’s not fair”, but for that to be true, she must mean she thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to spend an entire match verbally abusing and threatening officials then having a personal temper tantrum with her own equipment and then picking more fights with the officials threatening their careers just because you don’t like their calls. Seems perfectly fair to me…he spanked a crying child and she’s still pouty over it.

  82. vucodlak says

    @ popeye977, #83

    so, in your opinion, Serena Williams -who got to the very top of her sport- must be an awful person who cheated and lied and broke every rule she could, all the way up to the top.

    Saying, as I did, that cheating is rampant in sports does not imply that every athlete is a cheater. What it does mean is that your contention that sports is some kind of pure and noble pursuit in which cheating is rare and dealt with fairly is flat wrong. It clearly isn’t rare, and it’s rarely dealt with fairly.

    I make no judgements about what kind of person Serena Williams is. As I do with all athletes, I’ve made it a point not to learn anything about her, if I can avoid doing so. Her character isn’t even relevant to this discussion.

    The issue is this:
    If Williams was called out legitimately for coaching from the stands,* when that apparently does not happen to men who are guilty of the same infractions, then there is indeed a sexist double-standard at play. THAT is what I care about- the sexism. Sexism, misogyny, and any kind of bigotry must be opposed wherever it pops up.

    She deserved it and she should not complain, if this is what you think sports are…

    No one should be treated unfairly. If sports have standards and rules, then they should be applied fairly to everyone, regardless of their gender.

    See, the problem with your last comment is that you’re trying to apply your values to me. You seem think that if someone is a cheater, if they violate the purity of your precious sports, then they’re monsters who deserve whatever punishments are meted out from on high. You’ve made sports you religion; cheaters are heretics, and heretics must be punished.

    I, on the other hand, don’t really give a fuck about cheaters. To me, an athlete who cheats really isn’t any worse than any other athlete. But there are certain things that shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere, and sexist double-standards are one of those things. Hence my problem with the treatment of Serena Williams.

    *If this is a problem, then simply ban coaches from the stands.

  83. popeye977 says

    @90 vucodlak.

    Believe me when I say that I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with what you think is sport. This probably prevented you to have the opportunity to make a great experience.

    Sport is not my religion: I simply understand how it works -and no, you don’t-, I am not scared as hell from it -as you are-, I saw the good part of it, and understand the difference between what you should seek to achieve in sport and what assholes or rich people/organization do under the flag of “sport”.

    For Serena Williams: I’m sorry again but you are neither qualified nor objective (and not even coherent) on this topic. Go read @80 mamba or other comments from screecymonkey who explained (in a much less emotive way than I did) why SW was wrong in calling sexism.

  84. screechymonkey says

    vucodlak @90,

    If Williams was called out legitimately for coaching from the stands,* when that apparently does not happen to men who are guilty of the same infractions, then there is indeed a sexist double-standard at play.

    A few points about that, trying not to repeat things I’ve said before:

    1) If anyone is claiming that men do not get called for coaching violations, that is provably false.

    2) If anyone is claiming that it is rare for men to be called for coaching violations, well, that obviously depends on your definition of “rare.” Relative to the number of times coaching occurs, it might be. In terms of “is it noteworthy to see one called,” I would say no. Relative to the number of times women are called for coaching, the best I can say is “maybe.”

    I based that on this source, which states:

    But assessing code violations for coaching is not uncommon, according to information provided by the ITF. Of the 31 code violations assessed [note: given the paragraph below, this must mean issued “to women” — sm] during the three Grand Slams before the US Open, 11 of them were for coaching — more than any other code violation.

    During the three previous Grand Slams — the French Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open — men were assessed 59 code violations, almost twice as many as the women. The men were issued violations for coaching nine times and the most common violation was abuse of racket/equipment 19 times.

    So that’s 9 coaching violations to men and 11 to women, which is fairly close. On the other hand, men’s matches are longer at the Slams because they play best-of-five sets, so you could say that this reflects a disparity. And of course, we don’t know whether or not one gender commits more coaching violations than the other. (My subjective view is that women players seem to be looking to their box more often than the men, but that could be my own biases at work.)

    I believe that this umpire in particular, Carlos Ramos, assessed coaching violations to two men during this same U.S. Open, but I think I heard that on a podcast and haven’t got a source I can link on that, so I could be wrong about the details.

    3) As to the verbal abuse code violation, it’s really hard to do a comparison. I’ve seen the videos going around (including in this thread) of supposedly more egregious stuff that umpires in general, and Ramos in particular, have let go. I’ve seen other videos and articles of supposedly less egregious stuff that umpires in general, and Ramos in particular, have penalized men for. Obviously a lot depends on what you consider more vs. less egregious. I’ve also seen some sloppy arguments, such as people complaining that so-and-so “got away” with something when in fact a violation was assessed; or only got a point penalty for verbal abuse while Williams got a game, when that’s just a function of how many Code violations the player had previously accrued; or on the other side, people saying that bad officiating is just part of the game, so suck it up.

    Some respected tennis people (Billie Jean King) are saying it’s pure out-and-out sexism, others (Evert, Djokovic) are saying it’s bad officiating but not (or not necessarily) sexism, and still others (Mary Carrillo) are saying Ramos did nothing wrong. Even the tennis establishment is splitting, with the USTA and WTA taking Serena’s side and the ITF backing up Ramos.

    Anyway, I’m going to try to duck out of this now, as I think there’s not too much more to say, but thanks to all of you — regardless of which “side” you’ve been on — for the discussion.

  85. popeye977 says

    @92 screechmonkey
    Thank you for your comments, always calm and well documented. I tend to heat up too much on topics I care about and when I read…ok, I was doing it again :)

  86. says

    Guess we now know which commenters were musclehead Jocks in school. You haven’t grown out of your sense of entitlement or superiority at all.

    Every one of you defending the abusive umpire can go fuck yourselves with a saguaro. Sideways.

  87. call me mark says


    I’m sorry again but you are neither qualified nor objective (and not even coherent) on this topic.

    My irony meter just exploded.

  88. Saad says

    starfleetdude, #96

    Just because the guys might be able to get away with it doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

    The guys getting away with it means it’s acceptable.

  89. starfleetdude says

    Reading the op-ed, it’s clear that Navratilova thinks it should no longer be acceptable. I’m old enough to remember the antics of McEnroe and thought he was a jerk back then, FWIW.

  90. popeye977 says

    @94 WMDKitty — Survivor
    I love when shitholes like you categorize people they don’t know just based on their preconceptions. I dare to defend a male against a woman, therefore I must be a sexist asshole. I think that sport can make a lot of good to a person, and you classify me as an idiotic supermuscled football player.
    It never dawn on you that I could actually be more actively involved than you in fighting against sexism, and that I can be a very normal person who actually spends far more time reading and doing nerdy stuff than doing sports.
    I would suggest you to listen to Tim Minchin’s “the fence”, a very funny and educative song that I love.

    @97 Saad

    The guys getting away with it means it’s acceptable.

    No, it means that sometimes it has been accepted when it should not have. Do you understand the difference, and which of the two options “being accepted” vs “not being acceptable” is wrong and should be corrected?

  91. starfleetdude says

    Because the subject came up in a prominent way and made the news. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  92. says

    As said in the other topic, I agree that from the evidence it seems the ruling was sexist and should not be rendered. However the behaviour SW showed should not be tolerated nevertheless – the “guys” should not be getting away with it in the past. This needs to change.

    My experience and opinion of sports do line up with vucodlac’s, so I am no expert in opining about this, however:


    The guys getting away with it means it’s acceptable.

    I hate to contradict you, but that is bad argument, if meant seriously. In broader context, “guys” were getting away for an awfully long time with sexual harassment (and worse). We both agree that that was/is bad cultural norm and it should never have existed in the first place. But since it exists, society should work towards eliminating it.

    That does not mean that it should become acceptable in turn for women to harass men.

  93. says

    I would suggest you to listen to Tim Minchin’s “the fence”, a very funny and educative song that I love.

    My eyes just rolled so far out of my head there may have been some chalk dust.

  94. popeye977 says

    @100 Saad

    Why the interest in making it unacceptable now?

    This is actually a good question.
    That you should ask to Serena Williams, not to me.