Naomi Osaka Quits French Open Rather than Face Reporters

A star player has opted out of a Grand Slam, citing "mental health."

The biggest young star in women’s tennis has withdrawn from a major tournament rather than talk to the news media, generating significant controversy. WSJ:

Women’s tennis world No. 2 Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open on Monday, dramatically concluding a standoff over her decision not to grant interviews during the tournament, which she had attributed to caring for her mental health.

Osaka, the highest-earning female athlete in the world and a winner of four major titles, had touched off the debate over the weekend and is now leaving Paris before even playing the second round. In her exit, she revealed a long-running struggle with depression and cast doubt on the rest of her season.

Osaka had already been fined $15,000 by the Roland-Garros organizers for failing to appear in a mandatory news conference after her first-round victory here on Sunday. (She still answered three questions on the court and honored a long-standing agreement with a Japanese broadcaster.)

“I never wanted to be a distraction and I accept that my timing was not ideal and my message could have been clearer,” she wrote in a statement posted to her social media accounts. “More importantly I would never trivialize mental health or use the term lightly. The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the U.S. Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that.”

Osaka, who was raised primarily in the U.S. and represents Japan, had stunned the French Open shortly after landing in Paris when she informed organizers that she would not be carrying out her media duties during the tournament, because she “often felt that people have no regard for athletes’ mental health.”

“I feel for Naomi. I wish I could give her a hug,” Serena Williams said. “Like I said, I’ve been in those positions. We have different personalities. People are different. I’m thick, other people are thin. You just have to let her handle it in the way she wants to and in the best way that she can.”

Though players are contractually obligated to face the press after matches at Grand Slam events, Osaka had indicated she was prepared to pay any fines thrown her way. But the argument intensified on Sunday when all four Grand Slam tournaments issued a joint statement threatening her with increased financial penalties and possible suspension. 

“First and foremost, we are sorry and sad for Naomi Osaka. The outcome of Naomi Osaka withdrawing from Roland-Garros is unfortunate,” said French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton, who oversees the tournament. “We wish her the best and the quickest possible recovery. And we look forward to having Naomi in our tournament next year.”

Osaka has never shied away from standing up to tournament organizers for issues she believes in. During the Western & Southern Open last summer, she forced the suspension of her semifinal match as athletes across several sports protested police violence against Black people following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. Osaka had previously flown to Minneapolis to join marches after the death of George Floyd.

And in the U.S. she quickly found support from superstars in other sports.

“You shouldn’t ever have to make a decision like this,” the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry tweeted, “but so damn impressive taking the high road when the powers that be don’t protect their own. Major respect.”

In Paris, however, her fellow players have not all been as enthusiastic. While several of her counterparts here have said they could see why she might find speaking to the media immediately after matches to be a taxing exercise, they insisted that the media also played a significant role in making them global celebrities.

“I understand her,” 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal said over the weekend. “But…without the press, without the people who normally are traveling, who are writing the news and achievements that we are having around the world, probably we will not be the athletes that we are today.”

Billie Jean King, a 12-time major winner and activist, echoed the sentiment in a message she posted before Osaka’s withdrawal.

“While it’s important that everyone has the right to speak their truth, I have always believed that as professional athletes we have a responsibility to make ourselves available to the media,” she wrote on Sunday

The NYT adds:

Ms. Osaka described herself in her Monday Instagram post as an introverted person who suffers from anxiety before she has to speak with the press. “Anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety,” she wrote.

She said reporters had never been unkind to her, but “here in Paris I was already feeling vulnerable and anxious so I thought it was better to exercise self-care and skip the press conferences.”

Ms. Osaka’s sister, Mari, a former professional tennis player, indicated that Naomi Osaka’s anxiety was caused in part by her struggles to win on clay courts like the one at the French Open. The press asks about her sister’s poor performance every time she plays on clay, which hurts her, Mari Osaka said in a post on Reddit.

By avoiding news conferences, her sister could “block everything out. No talking to people who is going to put doubt in her mind.”

Naomi Osaka said she had written to tournament officials privately to apologize for the distraction she had created and had offered to speak with them after the tournament about potentially changing rules requiring players to engage with the media that she described as “outdated.” Before returning to the tour, she said, she would discuss with tournament officials ways they could make things better for the players.

The explanation, frankly, doesn’t help her case. Some of her defenders had been taking her initial “mental health” claims at face value while others have pointed to a propensity for rather sexist questions to be directed at young women athletes. If she was being harrassed in these press conferences, I would be sympathetic to her plight (and angry at organizers for not putting a stop to it). But that she has anxiety about being asked about her tennis game?

Nadal and King are right: media obligations are important because helping reporters do their jobs helps grow the game. It’s why purses for winning tournaments—or, indeed, winning individual matches—are so high. And Osaka is not only one of the biggest stars in her sport but, as a Black and Asian woman, she’s rather unique. She has a responsibility to promote and grow the game. Beyond that, if some athletes are allowed to opt out of their obligations by merely claiming “mental health” reasons, it obviously gives them a competitive advantage over those whose time and attention are divided.

The best counterargument I’ve seen, and it’s at least implied in Osaka’s claim that the requirement to attend press conferences is “outdated,” is that the age of social media means stars can promote themselves and the game through their Instagram and other accounts. While certainly true—and, indeed, Osaka is doing so—that’s certainly not the same thing as taking questions from the press. It’s simply part and parcel of being a professional athlete.

FILED UNDER: Sports
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    Wow.

    1. First and foremost, putting quote marks around mental health is wrong, offensive and ignorant. The message it sends to those with mental health challenges could be harmful. You don’t know who is reading your posts. Stop doing shit like this.

    Your “take” is entirely focused on her obligation to talk to the media but you flavor it with shots at mental health issues and disparage those who have them. Crawl out of the freaking stone age and stop being a troglodyte.

    2. The tennis press (and European sports writing in general) is a mixed, but mostly very negative, bag. Some are professionals. Most are paparazzi who aren’t good, honest or worthy. They aren’t “reporters” in the sense of reporting on the games or the athletes.

    3. It isn’t just sexism. It is also racism.

    4. Fundamentally, fans pay to watch Osaka and other athletes, play the game. I’ve regularly enjoyed her matches without ever once watching a single minute of any of her press conferences.

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  2. drj says:

    [Taking questions from the press is] simply part and parcel of being a professional athlete.

    There is no good reason why this should be the case. It’s silly, perhaps even exploitative that athletes can’t opt out.

    Good on Osaka for speaking up.

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  3. George says:

    Promotion is part of entertainment, and professional sports is entertainment.

    You could argue that promotion should be handled by non-athletes (in the same way that say promotion of cars is done by marketing rather than by the engineers and assemblers who design and make the cars), but the reality is that many fans are drawn by the personalities of individual athletes, especially in individual sports (team sports have a link to their city that typically transcends the individual players). Serious fans of a sport don’t care about press coverage or promotion, they’ll search out the events by themselves, but reducing press coverage would lower the number of casual viewers who are mildly interested in watching many forms of entertainment and often end up watching the one that has the most coverage. And for most sports the majority of viewers are casual. That’s why some athletes worry about reducing press coverage, they believe it’d lower their pay.

    However, I gather that she is willing to accept that lower pay, and so good for her. The organizations will quickly figure out if they’re better off (financially) with her as a non-speaking player or without her — professional sport almost always comes down to money, and that’s what will decide this.

    Entertainment (professional sports, music, art, theatre, movies etc) is optional, entertainers aren’t owed anything by the fans and fans aren’t owned anything by the entertainers. She’ll find the right course for herself.

    3
  4. I have to admit I have a hard time accepting the notion that post-match press conferences with athletes promote viewership and interest in the sport.

    And, anxiety is a real issue and I see no reason why someone ought to be forced into an ancillary activity if it increases their anxiety.

    (For that matter: post-game/post-match press conferences rarely actually produce anything of interest/value).

    24
  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    My wife has been reading Arnold Palmer’s biography and last evening read a passage where Palmer recounted a conversation with then a 21 yo Tiger Woods. Woods had sought him out for counsel regarding the pressures of the tour and how Tiger just wanted to be a normal 21 yo. Palmer gave him some tough love and told him that he wasn’t a normal 21 yo, because he had $50M in winnings in the bank and the pressure that Tiger was feeling was part of the biz of pro golf.

    We don’t know what really is going on with Ms. Osaka, but should take her complaints of mental duress at face value. But she will need to come to terms with the fact that meeting with the press is part and parcel of a career in pro tennis. That said, if there are abusive members of the press, then the tour officials should strip those miscreants of their credentials. I suspect that most fans would approve of such an action.

    6
  6. Teve says:

    Many years ago, the basketball press had been repeating a bunch of dumb rumors about Rasheed Wallace, and if he aggressively responded to the lies, he got fined by the NBA, and if he refused to answer the reporters’ questions about the lies, he got fined by the NBA. So the next time he had to do a press availability, he took every question from every reporter. And to every question, he answered, “Both teams played hard.” Fuck all y’all.

    15
  7. Jen says:

    Echoing what @SKI said, the quotes around mental health are dismissive, toxic, and infuriating–and appalling.

    For most of those who suffer from acute anxiety and must appear before audiences, medication is helpful and makes this sort of activity bearable. I can imagine though that is not an option for a high-performance athlete.

    As far as I’m concerned, athletes owe the press nothing, especially since they seem hell-bent on generating a narrative rather than just reporting.

    Good for her for establishing boundaries.

    25
  8. MarkedMan says:

    FWIW, my take was very different from yours. From what I can see, this is a professional athlete buckling from the many pressures in her life, of which interviews are just one part, albeit the one she is currently focused on. She is near enough to her breaking point that she quit a major tournament after a first round victory. We may be witnessing the end of her career.

    If I put myself in her shoes I don’t imagine I would have lasted more than a few months with the kinds of pressure and demands she has faced almost her whole life, so I can’t judge her harshly. Even if I could, why would I? It’s sad for her and hurts no one else.

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  9. gVOR08 says:

    Billie Jean King did speak of a responsibility to deal with the media. She also tweeted,

    It’s incredibly brave that Naomi Osaka has revealed her truth about her struggle with depression.
    Right now, the important thing is that we give her the space and time she needs.
    We wish her well.

    8
  10. ptfe says:

    @Teve: “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”

    (Full disclosure: I used to be a sports writer.)

    Large-scale press is only good for the athlete in that it makes all comments available to everybody writing about the event without the athlete having to answer or ignore calls from 20 different journalists. They could just as easily put out a press release or a pre-recorded video and have a lot less friction.

    I would argue that the post-game press event is worse for the sport overall: How many customer-facing assholes dissuade people from purchasing tickets? Players get fans and initially pull in money by performing well, but they certainly can dampen that “fandom” by acting like sh!tbricks.

    Rules like this are asinine and stupid. Steph Curry is right: mad respect for Osaka.

    10
  11. Holly says:

    “putting quote marks around mental health is wrong, offensive and ignorant” << THIS. I rarely comment, but came here to write this. I have never been so angry about anything else I've read here…not even close.

    20
  12. Kathy says:

    Quite asid from the latest teapot tempest, IMO interviews with athletes are some of the most boring events in the universe.

    13
  13. Jason Sterlace says:

    But that she has anxiety about being asked about her tennis game?

    Wow. Why was this so astounding and problematic for you?

    12
  14. James Joyner says:

    @SKI: @Holly: I think claiming her mental health is at stake because she finds answering questions stressful demeans those with actual mental health problems.

    7
  15. Jen says:

    @Kathy:

    IMO interviews with athletes are some of the most boring events in the universe.

    Agreed. I’ve never found them to be insightful and every time I watch one I am reminded of the scene in Bull Durham where Kevin Costner walks Nuke through a series of cliches to use.

    4
  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Nadal and King are right: media obligations are important because helping reporters do their jobs helps grow the game.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… gasp…. wheeze…

    She’s a tennis player but they want a circus act. Somebody trained to sit up and regurgitate the same old tired absolutely empty of meaning phrases to their idiotic questions. She doesn’t want to, and she shouldn’t have to. So she cut the leash and said, “F you.”

    10
  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Doubling down on your ignorance is not going to help you here James.

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  18. Beth says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think claiming her mental health is at stake because she finds answering questions stressful demeans those with actual mental health problems.

    Then you don’t understand anything about mental health and are operating under assumptions and cultural indoctrination that are neither correct nor helpful.

    34
  19. SKI says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think claiming her mental health is at stake because she finds answering questions stressful demeans those with actual mental health problems.

    Doubling down? I’m not surprised but I am disappointed. It is a really bad look.

    What gives you the knowledge that she doesn’t have an actual mental health problem? Are you her doctor? Read her medical reports? Sat with her and really listened to her experience?

    Or are you just a toxic asshole who pontificates about others mental health and demeans and trivializes other peoples problems? Have you learned nothing as an educator?

    23
  20. Chip Daniels says:

    In a world dominated by celebrity freak shows and toxic Twitter, where every ordinary person is encouraged to beclown themselves by frantic efforts at “influencing”, an athlete who just wants to play the game and not jump in front of the cameras is to be applauded.

    28
  21. Thomm says:

    @James Joyner: Kinda like veterans claiming PTSD as a combat injury demeans those with real injuries, amirite?

    27
  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Any time you write a book you’re supposed to be available for various media availabilities. In kidlit you’re supposed to be available – and honored to be asked – for book tour, a waste of time and money as a rule.

    For years I argued with my publisher that it made no economic sense to fly me around the country, drop me into random cities to give presentations to kids in school. My burn rate (flights, hotels) was about a grand a day. I’d move maybe 50 books at – averaging hard and paper – 10 bucks a pop. But I quite often sold no books – for a 1000 dollars a day.

    I helped the process along by making book tour more expensive. Hotels to be 4 star or better, meals and booze comped without limit, (and I drink the good stuff), and business class travel. Finally the publisher decided I was right. I continued doing the UK because with a network of trains it made much more sense – less time in transit, more time on-site. Plus, I prefer London, Edinburgh or Bath to Cleveland, Dallas or Atlanta. Go figure.

    Now it’s all Zoom, of course, and I’ve sidelined myself, but my wife is constantly Zooming. Much cheaper. I expect that to become the norm even post-pandemic. I also expect publishers will abuse it till told to back off. And in publishing at least, you can push back, but only if you’re successful.

    There are all these things you’re ‘supposed to do,’ but you have to set limits because the main thing you’re supposed to do as an author is write, not pimp your books. Or, in the case of Ms. Osaka, her main jobs are practices and matches. She should be under no contractual obligation to prattle for ‘the good of the sport’.

    13
  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    James arguably was lazy adding scare quotes to “mental health”, but the over-the-top outrage in some comments above is a great example of why people stop listening to progressive voices and just roll their eyes. When everything is turned up to 11, nothing is turned up to 11. Some sense of proportion would be nice, as well as some tolerance.

    26
  24. SKI says:

    @MarkedMan:

    If I put myself in her shoes I don’t imagine I would have lasted more than a few months with the kinds of pressure and demands she has faced almost her whole life, so I can’t judge her harshly. Even if I could, why would I? It’s sad for her and hurts no one else.

    Indeed.

    We have to ask *why*. Why was this a story at all? Why did James feel the need to comment on it? Why do people feel the need to judge others’ decisions when it doesn’t hurt anyone?

    Why

    5
  25. Slugger says:

    Insincerity and dissembling are considered flaws, but this is a situation where these flaws are useful. The persona created by a public figure, athlete, actor, or politician, has a big influence on their success. I advise any successful athlete to cultivate a public face that creates good feelings, and hire some professionals to help achieve this. What you tell your friends, what you tell yourself, what you tell your psychiatrist is totally separate. We all juggle a couple of personas and represent a different face in different circumstances. I can certainly accept that facing a bunch of people looking to trip you up is unsettling, but everyone has had to be gracious to a boss that didn’t feel good. Read Andre Agassi’s autobiography ( I recommend it for all); he hated tennis but worked through ( with some side excursions).

    2
  26. MarkedMan says:

    There are really two issues:
    1) Should athletes contracts be changed so press scrums are not required?
    2) is this particular athlete coming undone? FWIW, I accept her words and actions testifying to that, and suspect that the press scrum, while a contributor, is not the sole cause

    3
  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Exactly

    3
  28. just nutha says:

    Re: Doubling down. When has Dr. Joyner ever NOT doubled down when he was disagreed with–beyond exchanges with Dr. Taylor (possibly)? There’s a dynamic there that we miss/overlook.

    3
  29. R. Dave says:

    @James Joyner: I think claiming her mental health is at stake because she finds answering questions stressful demeans those with actual mental health problems.

    @SKI: What gives you the knowledge that she doesn’t have an actual mental health problem? Are you her doctor? Read her medical reports? Sat with her and really listened to her experience?

    I think this exchange reflects part of the disconnect here. The severity of her anxiety issues is an important, arguably determinative, factor in assessing whether her refusal to do the press appearances is reasonable or unreasonable. If she just has the same run of the mill anxiety that anyone would have in those situations, then it’s unreasonable for her to claim a special exception from the ordinary duties of the job. On the other hand, if she has a genuinely debilitating anxiety disorder, then such a special exception is certainly more reasonable. Based on the limited, self-reported reference to her mental health issues in this article, James seems to be assuming it’s the former, while the folks criticizing him in the comments seem to be assuming it’s the latter.

    As someone who spent years with pretty debilitating social anxiety myself, I’m inclined to think it’s the latter, since, in my experience, people generally don’t casually trumpet their condition like this unless/until it’s serious enough that they just can’t cope anymore. On the other hand, though, that reluctance to self-report seems to have been significantly eroded – and perhaps even inverted – among Millennials and Gen Zs, so it’s hard to say. Back in the 90s, I literally flunked out of college on my first attempt rather than admit I was too riddled with social anxiety to attend classes, but from what I’ve read, roughly 1 in 4 college students today is officially listed as having a disability (mostly mental health related, of course) and granted academic accommodations as a result, so it’s not implausible that Osaka is simply reflecting that same level of excessive fragility and/or intentional gaming of the system. Bottom line, I think my takeaway is that outside observers simply don’t have enough information to know one way or the other and should reserve judgment.

    9
  30. George says:

    One option is to pay athletes extra for press conferences (and no doubt, the bigger the star the greater the pay, given how speaking engagements work in general). If the leagues marketing divisions have numbers that show press conferences ultimately result in bigger viewership then they should be happy to do so. Athletes would be free to go to the press conferences or not.

    I suspect most athletes would be more than happy to do so (the exposure is also good for endorsement money, which can run into tens of millions for the bigger stars), so it won’t matter if some opt out.

    2
  31. Jen says:

    The “over the top” outrage is likely fueled in part by either knowing someone who has a mental illness or understanding how frequently these issues are brushed aside.

    I know that’s certainly why I reacted the way I did. The issue with some mental illnesses is that by the time you realize how serious things are, it’s frequently too late. A friend who died by suicide was always the main joker, the life of the party, etc. He was also a high performer academically and at work. For real-life examples I’ll point to Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, and more.

    Not one person here, including Dr. Joyner, truly has any idea how deep her issues are and the extent to which being in front of reporters contributes to them or exacerbates the problem(s). That’s why the scare quotes are seen as so dismissive.

    12
  32. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: @SKI: I may simply be over-weighing her sister’s comments here. But my take right now is that she simply dislikes talking to the press and finds it stressful. If she was touting a diagnosed disorder, I would be a whole lot more sympathetic.

    @Thomm: I think we can simultaneously acknowledge that PTSD is both real and hard to pin down and that it’s not the same thing as, say, losing a leg. We don’t, quite notably, award a Purple Heart for the former.

    @just nutha: Honeslty, I think I change my mind quite often here. Right now, the only substantive pushback I’m getting is for scare-quoting “mental health” for what seems like simply not wanting to do part of her job.

    @MarkedMan: @SKI: @Michael Reynolds: I do think it’s possible that the press availabilities are outmoded as the best way to promote the sport. But the people who run the sport are in a better position than me to evaluate that claim and it’s not like participating in them isn’t a longstanding requirement of the position.

    3
  33. SKI says:

    @R. Dave: Yup. One quibble though.

    The severity of her anxiety issues is an important, arguably determinative, factor in assessing whether her refusal to do the press appearances is reasonable or unreasonable.

    Why is it necessary for any of us to judge whether it is in fact reasonable or unreasonable?

    How on earth are any of us supposed to decide how this woman feels and whether her decision about her own mental health is the right one?

    More importantly, why do we think we should be trying?

    10
  34. @James Joyner:

    I think claiming her mental health is at stake because she finds answering questions stressful demeans those with actual mental health problems.

    To be fair, anxiety can very much be a real mental health problem. (For an athletic example, Google Earl Campbell and his panic attacks).

    I think this conversation is a good example of how we, as a society, simply do not take mental health sufficiently seriously.

    21
  35. Chip Daniels says:

    As an aside, I can’t help but snicker at the twitterers who sneer at people suffering anxiety as fragile snowflakes, then go into hyperventilating triggered outrage that an athlete doesn’t give an interview.

    18
  36. Gustopher says:

    @R. Dave:

    On the other hand, though, that reluctance to self-report seems to have been significantly eroded – and perhaps even inverted – among Millennials and Gen Zs, so it’s hard to say.

    There’s still a massive stigma to having mental health issues, especially when they are no longer in the safer space of college, surrounded by more Gen Z kids.

    At work, the boss is far more likely to be someone like Dr. Joyner, who belittles genuine problems and then doubles down at it. I’ve seen people finally just break down an collapse because they can’t take the pressure of dealing with their problems and hiding them.

    I’ve made a very conscious decision to be way too open about my mild-to-medium anxiety problems at work, because I am senior enough and valuable enough that it has minimal effect (I don’t worry about promotion, I get promoted by switching jobs), and leaves an environment where other, more junior people can have their problems without too much added problems.

    It does mean that I have told bosses acting like Dr. Joyner does here that they are being assholes. So far, it’s just been ignorant shit and not genuine malice, and that’s been enough.

    10
  37. wr says:

    @SKI: “We have to ask *why*. Why was this a story at all? ”

    I’m sorry, but we’re not talking about some fourteen year-old girl who got dragged into some ludicrous online controversy and doesn’t want to face more press questioning.

    This is the number woman tennis player in the world. She has made more money than any other woman in sports history. She is the elite of the elite of the elite.

    And she doesn’t want to abide by the rules that govern everyone else in her sport.

    If she is too fragile to live up to the expectations of this role, then she should step aside — as indeed she did for Roland Garros.

    To treat her like a delicate fainting little flower is to diminish all women in sports — and everywhere.

    And as to the usefulness of the press conferences — if she’s really opposed to them, then she should do what Billie Jean King and Serena Williams and Roger Federer and others have done when they felt something was wrong about their sport. They organized, they make their case, and they forced the tour to make changes. They didn’t say “Oh, these rules should apply to everyone but me.”

    8
  38. wr says:

    @George: “One option is to pay athletes extra for press conferences (and no doubt, the bigger the star the greater the pay, given how speaking engagements work in general).”

    Naomi Osaka pulled down $55 million last year. How much extra should she get for talking to the press?

    Oh, and the top prize money in the Grand Slam tournaments is in the millions of dollars. How much more should they get paid for answering questions for fifteen minutes?

    3
  39. Beth says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’ve made a very conscious decision to be way too open about my mild-to-medium anxiety problems at work, because I am senior enough and valuable enough that it has minimal effect (I don’t worry about promotion, I get promoted by switching jobs), and leaves an environment where other, more junior people can have their problems without too much added problems.

    I think this is an incredibly important thing to do (and FWIW, rather brave). I feel like I prattle endlessly about my own mental health issues because perpetuating the silence and stigma helps no one. If any of this discussion gets the Dr. Joyners of the world to think for a moment about this issue it’s a victory.

    Also, for the record, I think the US military should be handing out medals for PTSD survivors. As a non-military PTSD survivor (childhood abuse) its no joke. To be clear, I wasn’t hit (outside of the odd brutality of spanking) or molested and that was still traumatic enough to fry my brain. Hell, humans are much more fragile than we like to claim we are. Our brains our wonderful machines designed by chance for a life on the ancient savannah, nothing like we experience today.

    7
  40. SKI says:

    @wr: Couple of points:

    I’m sorry, but we’re not talking about some fourteen year-old girl who got dragged into some ludicrous online controversy and doesn’t want to face more press questioning.

    True but that doesn’t change the fact that we shouldn’t be judging other poeple’s mental health.

    She has made more money than any other woman in sports history.

    False. She earned more in 2020 than Serena but is way behind in terms of career earnings. You mangled the talking point.

    And she doesn’t want to abide by the rules that govern everyone else in her sport.

    Are you aware of something called a “reasonable accommodation” under the ADA? It is US law so doesn’t exactly apply to the Tennis world but basically it requires employers to seek to accommodate people’s disabilities if there is a way to do so reasonably. The guiding philosophy is that we shouldn’t exclude people with health issues or other disabilities from being part of society if we can accommodate their challenges. That we are richer and better off as a society when everyone is included.

    I bet that the WTA, and the French Open, could have figured out a way to accommodate her and still managed to keep one of their #1 attractions playing. I also bet they wish they had approached her and done it collaboratively instead.

    If she is too fragile to live up to the expectations of this role, then she should step aside — as indeed she did for Roland Garros.

    To treat her like a delicate fainting little flower is to diminish all women in sports — and everywhere.

    And here we part company.

    1. Describing someone with mental health issues as “fragile” is ignorant and wrong. The reality is that it is likely they are far stronger than you or most *because* they have to go through lifer dealing with those issues every day. The fact that Osaka, despite her issues with anxiety, rose to the position she is is something to be marveled at – not denigrated.

    2. That you think her challenges in dealing with anxiety somehow make her a “delicate fainting little flower” or reflect on women as a whole is some real mysoginistic bullshit. GTFO with that.

    And as to the usefulness of the press conferences — if she’s really opposed to them, then she should do what Billie Jean King and Serena Williams and Roger Federer and others have done when they felt something was wrong about their sport. They organized, they make their case, and they forced the tour to make changes. They didn’t say “Oh, these rules should apply to everyone but me.”

    This isn’t over. She may not have communicated well initially (and her second statement owned that aspect) but her failure to deal with it perfectly doesn’t excuse people from the basic obligation to not be an asshole when talking about other people’s health issues.

    Anxiety disorders are very real and impact every aspect of people’s lives. That you and James seem to not to have any awareness of them is something you should count as a blessing. Your denigration of them as something serious, however, while presumably borne from ignorance is, nonetheless, wrong and offensive.

    19
  41. wr says:

    @SKI: ” Your denigration of them as something serious, however, while presumably borne from ignorance is, nonetheless, wrong and offensive.”

    It’s the great joy of the internet that we get to be offended as often as we like. I guess this makes your day.

    But of course you know absolutely nothing about Osaka’s mental health. Your ignorance is just as deep as mine on this issue, but if you were to admit that you couldn’t be shocked at how insensitive other people are compared to you.

    And if it helps you any, I am not talking about Osaka’s “health issues.” I am talking about the responsibilities that come with being an elite athlete — or an elite in general. If she is indeed suffering, then I sincerely hope she gets the help she needs and is able to return to the tour. And that she brings with her the wisdom she’s gained and leads a movement to help other players like her.

    But saying “I choose not to fulfill my commitments to the tour because I have a crippling mental illness which somehow I have never communicated to anyone in my sport who could have suggested ways to help me over the years I have been the number one player” does not impress me.

    The fact is that the WTA would clearly have preferred a different outcome, but Osaka sprang this on them in public comments — not by approaching them in a professional manner and asking to work out an accommodation. She declared she wouldn’t do press conferences and assumed the WTA would just give her a pass.

    5
  42. wr says:

    @SKI: “True but that doesn’t change the fact that we shouldn’t be judging other poeple’s mental health.”

    By the way, the only one of us “judging other people’s mental health” is you.

    I have no knowledge of her mental state and don’t pretend to.

    I only speak of the obligations of being an elite. You live up to them or you step back.

    Osaka chose to stand back. She did the honorable thing here — after mismanaging this every step of the way.

    5
  43. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the people who run the sport are in a better position than me to evaluate that claim

    Truer words… The people who run the sport get up every morning knowing that if they don’t do their job well there will be more dollar signs on the bad side of the column than on the good, and then no gets paid and there won’t be reason to have any discussion about the press duties or anything else. They may be geniuses or doofuses or something in between, but in the end they have responsibilities and all I have is an opinion. And in this case I don’t know enough about the business to even have an opinion. So, from my point of view, the players and the league can work that out themselves.

    2
  44. charon says:

    Why no discussion of the behavior of the French tennis federation and the tournament organizers?

    My take is egotistical bullies enjoying their power trip, loving throwing their weight around.

    6
  45. SKI says:

    @wr: & @wr: But of course you know absolutely nothing about Osaka’s mental health. Your ignorance is just as deep as mine on this issue, but if you were to admit that you couldn’t be shocked at how insensitive other people are compared to you.

    and

    By the way, the only one of us “judging other people’s mental health” is you.

    I have no knowledge of her mental state and don’t pretend to.

    No, I’m taking *her* word for it.

    Why won’t you accept her own description of her reality?

    I only speak of the obligations of being an elite. You live up to them or you step back.

    Or you seek an accommodation.

    She didn’t handle this well initially but that doesn’t excuse folks who are saying that she is faking it or “fragile”.

    2
  46. SKI says:

    My kingdom for an edit button!

  47. EddieInCA says:

    https://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/31547121/petra-kvitova-withdraws-french-open-injured-ankle-fall-media-availability

    Petra Kvitova, a two-time major champion and the tournament’s No. 11 seed, has withdrawn from the French Open because of an ankle injury.

    In a statement posted to social media, Kvitova said she suffered the injury during her media obligations Sunday after her first-round victory over Greet Minnen.

    So doing her media obligation CAUSED an ankle injury forcing a top ranked player to exit the tourney. I wonder how much we will hear about that.

    Good on Osaka. Her job is to play tennis. She’s an independent contractor. Her first priority is to her self.

    17
  48. just nutha says:

    @wr: I would suggest a “market based solution” for the problem by splitting the stipends/prize monies into compartmentalized portions. Say the stipend for appearing is $500k and the prize for winning is $2 million. Pay $250k for participating and 250 for after match conferences. Same with the prize money. I suggest a 50% split because we already know that a token number of $15k (~85% of what I earned in 2005, I will note in passing) as a “penalty/fine” seems insufficient to provide a incentive for compliance.

    As to what to do with the forfeited money–should there be any–UNICEF, CARE, World Relief Kitchen, whoever send me letters several times a year (some times a month) telling me they could do more if they had more. Perhaps they could benefit from this money. Maybe the person foregoing it should select the beneficiary, maybe the managers of the tournament. No dog in the who decides fight.

    4
  49. wr says:

    @charon: “My take is egotistical bullies enjoying their power trip, loving throwing their weight around.”

    Based on what?

    These tournaments aren’t pick-up games, where players join in if they feel like it. The WTA — and the ATP on the men’s side — runs the tour and the tournaments, and there are rules that all players agree to follow — which there have to be, or it’s chaos, not a tournament. And there are penalties for not following those rules.

    Osaka announced publicly that she was simply not going to follow one of the rules. She was going to play, she was going to accept the WTA’s money if she won, but she wouldn’t be obligated to live by the same rules that every other player had to follow.

    How should the WTA have reacted? What would not have constituted bullying to you?

    What if another player, seeing Osaka’s flouting of the rules, decided that she wasn’t going to stand behind the baseline when she served anymore. Or started shouting insults when her opponent was serving.

    And if you think the WTA is enjoying this, you don’t know anything about tennis. Osaka is a hugely popular player. They would have done almost anything to keep her happy. But the way she played it, they couldn’t go along without losing all control over the sport.

    5
  50. just nutha says:

    Wow. I just realized that a couple of days ago, someone was complaining about a woman who was protesting that she had been denied what everyone before her in the same situation had gotten and today someone is complaining about a woman paying a fine and dropping out of a tournament because she decided that she couldn’t abide by the conditions of the tournament.

    There’s something in common about the two situations, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Hmmm…

    12
  51. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “Good on Osaka. Her job is to play tennis. She’s an independent contractor. Her first priority is to her self.”

    You’re an independent contractor, I suspect. What happens if you take a show and say “I’ve decided that while I am keeping this job, I’m not going to issue call sheets.” (Forgive me if call sheets are not part of your remit — I think we can take this an example even if not.)

    I’ve had some pretty elite jobs in my career — I’ve run network shows. And I’ve never been able to say “well, I’m doing this part of the job and not that part of the job.”

    And no matter how many well-meaning people say “yeah, because that part really isn’t the job,” if the contract I signed says it is part of the job, then it’s part of the job.

    4
  52. wr says:

    @SKI: “Or you seek an accommodation.”

    Which she didn’t do.

    Which she has never done in the years she’s been an elite player.

    Look, when she felt it would be wrong to play the semi-final in the Western & Southern tournament because of a protest over racial injustice, the WTA backed her. Not only didn’t fine her, actually cancelled the entire day of play to join the protest that she had brought to the sport.

    The WTA has had her back. They want her playing. If she had gone to them, do you really think it would have ended up like this?

    She made this happen not because of any mental illness, but because she acted irresponsibly and failed to live up to the duties of her position.

    5
  53. MarkedMan says:

    @SKI:

    Why won’t you accept her own description of her reality?

    Because people lie all the time, about all sorts of things? Why don’t I accept Matt Gaetz’s description of his reality?

    Look, FWIW, I do accept her statements at face value. But I think it is perfectly reasonable for others to come to a different conclusion.

    4
  54. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think claiming her mental health is at stake because she finds answering questions stressful demeans those with actual mental health problems.

    Sorry, you don’t get to define who has ‘real’ mental health problems. Nor do you get to speak for those people with ‘real’ mental health problems.

    I am one of those people. So, let me tell you how I felt when I read this comment, “fuck you, James. You don’t speak for me.” But, somehow, that crosses a line. So, out of respect to you, rather than say how I feel, I will give you a piece of advice:

    Unless you have a shared experience with the voiceless, speak for yourself and no one else.

    I have a voice. If someone who hasn’t been able to find their voice read your post, do you think they would come to you to speak for them? No, they would come to someone who can approximate their feelings, not someone who puts mental health in quotes.

    13
  55. wr says:

    @SKI: “She didn’t handle this well initially but that doesn’t excuse folks who are saying that she is faking it or “fragile”.”

    By the way, I never said she was fragile. I’m saying the people who are rushing to her defense are treating her as a fragile little flower who could never be expected to live up to the same pressures her peers do every day. It’s just a half-step away from the Britney Spears treatment — of course we can’t expect Osaka to be a professional, she’s just a woman and we all know how frail they are.

    Bullshit. She is a tough as nails competitor. She has faced down the best players in the world and taken them all down.

    So let’s stop acting like she’s just too weak and — yes — fragile to do the rest of her job. You can bet she’s surrounded by agents and managers — there’s no reason that she, they and the WTA can’t work out some kind of accommodation.

    But every time someone says “oh, no, she can’t be expected to do what every single other player does because she’s got this illness,” it’s just stigmatizing those who are mentally ill as inferior and in need of special treatment.

    7
  56. MarkedMan says:

    @wr:

    She made this happen not because of any mental illness, but because she acted irresponsibly and failed to live up to the duties of her position.

    I agree with all that you said except for this last bit. I think you are arguing facts not in evidence. How many athletes (and singers and actors and directors, etc) have we seen rise to the top, become unable to handle the pressure, and then implode? Sure, this could be a temper tantrum, but it could also be the beginning of the end of her career.

    3
  57. SKI says:

    @wr:

    She made this happen not because of any mental illness, but because she acted irresponsibly and failed to live up to the duties of her position.

    Ok, doctor.

    @wr:

    By the way, I never said she was fragile. I’m saying the people who are rushing to her defense are treating her as a fragile little flower who could never be expected to live up to the same pressures her peers do every day. It’s just a half-step away from the Britney Spears treatment — of course we can’t expect Osaka to be a professional, she’s just a woman and we all know how frail they are.

    Bullshit. She is a tough as nails competitor. She has faced down the best players in the world and taken them all down.

    So let’s stop acting like she’s just too weak and — yes — fragile to do the rest of her job. You can bet she’s surrounded by agents and managers — there’s no reason that she, they and the WTA can’t work out some kind of accommodation.

    But every time someone says “oh, no, she can’t be expected to do what every single other player does because she’s got this illness,” it’s just stigmatizing those who are mentally ill as inferior and in need of special treatment.

    This framing – that mental health isn’t a real medical issue is so fucking irresponsible and wrong.

    Would you claim that someone pointing out that her recovering from a torn knee is something that needs to be managed with a reduced workload was treating her like a fragile flower?

    Dealing with an anxiety disorder makes someone tough, not weak. Fuck you for presuming the converse or insisting that it is something that can just be out-toughed. just fuck you to hell.

    @MarkedMan:

    Look, FWIW, I do accept her statements at face value. But I think it is perfectly reasonable for others to come to a different conclusion.

    Strong disagree. How is it reasonable to conclude she doesn’t have an anxiety disorder? What facts are out there that she is faking?

    And I do not think it is reasonable to think that an anxiety disorder isn’t a real disability.

    11
  58. inhumans99 says:

    This may have already been brought up, but Kevin Drum has a post up that seems to shed a bit of light on this story. It sounds like she only clarified the actual reason why she stepped away from the game and is passing on talking to reporters after the story blew up on online. If what Kevin says is true, than I am guessing the tennis authorities would have been more sympathetic to her desire to step back from the game, because they did change how they communicate with her after she went public with her struggles with depression the past few years.

    At first glance, I can see how the powers that be in tennis thought they were dealing with a player that just wanted to declare that they were off-limits to the press for something, something, reasons. There seems to be more nuance to the story and once the real reason was provided to the tennis org. for her seemingly out of the blue withdrawal from the game, that they are willing to work with her going forward.

    Also, yes…scare quotes around mental health, I can see how that rankled a few of the regulars on this great site. It is not like she insisted that the only way she could play the game from this point forward is if a companion peacock was at all of her tennis matches from this point forward, or something like that.

    I also just realized that folks will not lecture me about how I do not understand how valuable companion pets can be to someone with genuine fears of being in a large crowd, etc., but I am willing to get yelled at. It makes the job of folks who train what we generally consider “companion animals,” usually dogs, so much harder when they see all the ridicule being thrown at folks who insist they need to take a companion peacock, or wombat, on an airline flight unless they will cease to be wholly functioning human beings. Stuff like that really does contribute to us giving folks who have a real need to be with a companion animal the short shrift.

    Anyway, I am veering 10,000 miles off-subject of this thread and will stop. Happy Tuesday folks, it is already the mid-point of 2021, can you believe it?

    2
  59. Kurtz says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @James Joyner:

    But the people who run the sport are in a better position than me to evaluate that claim and it’s not like participating in them isn’t a longstanding requirement of the position.

    She was willing to pay the fines. Then the four slams decided that they would escalate the fines. Why? It’s not that they know better how to promote the players.

    Simply ask, cui bono?

    Interviews take place in front of sponsor’s names, who pay big money for it.

    If players can promote themselves, who gets the sponsorship money that went toward being the name on a backdrop? Players, but the promotion would be different.

    Who gets cut out? Gaggle journalists and tournament promoters.

    Taylor is correct, nobody gives a shit about the post-match interview unless something controversial happens. And in a world where the press loses its status as gatekeepers, they’re incentivized to be provocative. It’s hard enough in a one-on-one interview. But in front of how many cameras and mics? Totally different thing for someone with anxiety.

    And the promoters? Fuck ’em. Nobody knows who they are. They’re people who own capital to siphon money off talent. There’s a reason players felt the need to unionize. Just as there’s a reason the four big team sports in America have powerful unions.

    The mystery is why the American working class largely sides with owners in labor disputes. But maybe we should just ask the insurrectionists, they’re really good at explaining why policy should favor ownership rather than talent.

    7
  60. R. Dave says:

    @SKI: Strong disagree. How is it reasonable to conclude she doesn’t have an anxiety disorder? What facts are out there that she is faking?

    I think you’re reversing the burden of proof here. Osaka is claiming she has a mental illness that prevents her from performing a portion of the work she previously agreed to perform. The burden is on her to provide sufficient evidence of that to convince the tournament organizers – and the public if she wants/expects the public to support her – not on the organizers or the public to disprove her bare assertion.

    Also, to be clear, she hasn’t even publicly asserted a clinical disorder at this point. She simply said she’s had bouts of depression and feels anxiety about the press appearances. The implication, of course, is that both were severe enough that they fall outside the norm, but again, she hasn’t even expressly said that, let alone given any proof of it.

    1
  61. SKI says:

    Definition of irony?

    FFT president Gilles Moretton made a statement in French about Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal, then repeated it in English, then left without taking questions.

    And yes, the immense irony of the FFT President not taking questions from the media in the wake of this Osaka withdrawal is not lost on anyone.

    8
  62. Mister Bluster says:

    @inhumans99:..it is already the mid-point of 2021, can you believe it?

    You must be using the Mayan Calendar.
    Today is the first day of the 6th month. I think June 30/July 1 should mark the mid-point of 2021.

  63. R. Dave says:

    @just nutha: Wow. I just realized that a couple of days ago, someone was complaining about a woman who was protesting that she had been denied what everyone before her in the same situation had gotten and today someone is complaining about a woman paying a fine and dropping out of a tournament because she decided that she couldn’t abide by the conditions of the tournament.

    There’s something in common about the two situations, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Hmmm…

    Is it that both involve powerful public figures reframing themselves as victims to leverage public opinion in their favor over a professional dispute?

    1
  64. SKI says:

    @R. Dave:

    I think you’re reversing the burden of proof here. Osaka is claiming she has a mental illness that prevents her from performing a portion of the work she previously agreed to perform. The burden is on her to provide sufficient evidence of that to convince the tournament organizers – and the public if she wants/expects the public to support her – not on the organizers or the public to disprove her bare assertion.

    I would agree that she would have the burden vis-a-vis the organizers.

    But for the public? Hard disagree. The only facts in evidence are that (a) she said she suffered from anxiety and depression – something that carried with it consequences as this thread demonstrates, (b) she was willing to be fined to avoid attending press conferences and (c) walked away from hundreds of thousands of dollars (and possibly about $1.7 million if she won). All of which point to there actually being an issue.

    And on the other side? What can you point to as evidence a reasonable person could rely on for the opposite point?

    Given that reality, it strikes me as unreasonable to claim that she is faking it.

    4
  65. R. Dave says:

    @Kurtz: And the promoters? Fuck ’em. Nobody knows who they are. They’re people who own capital to siphon money off talent.

    Correction, they’re people who deploy capital to provide the forum in which said talent can perform and make money.

    2
  66. Kurtz says:

    @wr:

    This is a strange perspective from you. It has nothing to do with fragility.

    As far as contracts, call sheets matter in a production, right? That’s far different from a post-game interview, which has nothing to do with the attraction–the actual match. You’re struggling to come up with an analogy in your industry because there isn’t one.

    4
  67. George says:

    @SKI:

    But its common for real disabilities (or even what would be a minor injury for normal life) to make it impossible for a high level athlete to compete under the rules of their sport and organization. In fact, its behind the retirement of many elite athletes. Its up to the WTA to decide what is necessary and unnecessary for their players. I suspect in the end they’ll decide she’s far to valuable to cut because of press conferences, but its their league so its their decision.

    She’s already made a lot of money, and is in an excellent position to walk if the WTA want her to do something she doesn’t want to do. Sometimes athletes moving on to other things is the best thing to do. Same for actors, rock stars, and other entertainers. She has the freedom to do other things with her life (ie she’d rich and healthy), and the pressures of the WTA might be something for her to pass on.

  68. SKI says:

    @Kurtz:

    You’re struggling to come up with an analogy in your industry because there isn’t one.

    An appropriate analogy would be refusing to go out to happy hour “with the team”.

    It has nothing to do with the actual work but it puts people with different circumstances who would be uncomfortable or unable to not go home right after work in a difficult position. Maybe they are a single parent or don’t have disposable income or have other concerns but that doesn’t matter to the boss who is deciding who gets promotions or plum assignments.

    People who are different aren’t less. Rules and expectations that (a) aren’t actually required to get the work done but (b) aren’t flexible enough to account for people being different are the types of systemic barriers to actual meritocracy and equality.

    7
  69. Lounsbury says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: It’s a bloody international top level sporting event, if one has “anxiety issues” … well perhaps one should seek another line of work. No one has a god given right to be a top-tier tennis player making millions of dollars playing sport.

    It’s not an aspect that is some surprise.

    Of course for the bleeding heart Lefty crowd dress up any priviledged whinging on in the right ethno-genderized clothing with a dash of society’s the blame and voila, instant empty minded uncritical acceptance.

    The young lady may indeed have profound mental issues (or she may be playing a hand to get something she wants in a labour / contractual dispute, hard to say), but the contractual obligations at this level are what they are – she’s perfectly free to play sport even professionally at another less stressful level.

    Else, just like when one signs up for being in a major investment firm, one signs up for a level of stress which is commensurate with the level of income. And should one decide after a certain amount of experience, well not my cup of tea after all, check-out, go to another niche or another role or another industry….

    5
  70. Modulo Myself says:

    According to Osaka’s wiki, her parents moved to Florida when she was nine for tennis training. Nine. Basically, she’s been in an elite tennis bubble her entire life. That’s not a healthy environment. It’s not like being good at sports when you’re a teenager. It’s an insanely competitive system. And it made tennis not her job or career but her entire existence. (I’m guessing.) So I feel like ‘facing reporters and talking about your match’ which sounds like a manageable thing for people even with social anxiety is radically different when your life has been all tennis for as long as you can remember.

    3
  71. Lounsbury says:

    @Modulo Myself: The answer for such a thing is most likely to stop making Tennis your life. The top tier is not obliged if they do not so wish to accomodate one young lass. The Williams Sisters managed the same thing rather successfully.

    Should her issues be real (which is entirely plausible) then the healthiest thing for her is rather likely not some fudged pseudo-accomodations but to exit a high-pressure world and career that’s unhealthy for her.

    4
  72. Jen says:

    This “something she agreed to do previously” argument is strange. The better she does, the more she wins, the greater the press scrutiny and the higher likelihood of combative questioning, especially if she doesn’t meet expectations in any particular round.

    It’s strikingly similar to the criticism Princess Diana received when she had issues with the press–“oh, sure she LIKES the press attention when she’s advocating for eliminating land mines, but get too close to her in a French tunnel…”

    10
  73. SKI says:

    @George:

    But its common for real disabilities (or even what would be a minor injury for normal life) to make it impossible for a high level athlete to compete under the rules of their sport and organization. In fact, its behind the retirement of many elite athletes. Its up to the WTA to decide what is necessary and unnecessary for their players. I suspect in the end they’ll decide she’s far to valuable to cut because of press conferences, but its their league so its their decision.

    True but also incomplete.

    Osaka is one of, if not the, best women playing tennis today. She is a huge draw. As a fan of tennis, I can assure you that the fans do not care about the post-match press conference. Any decision by WTA or ATP that it really is “necessary” has to be accompanied by a question of why. What makes it actually necessary – rather than something we have just always done.

    All of which is irrelevant to the principal issue – we should make sure we structure *all* of society to allow for reasonable accommodations of peoples’ differences.

  74. SKI says:

    @Lounsbury:

    Should her issues be real (which is entirely plausible) then the healthiest thing for her is rather likely not some fudged pseudo-accomodations but to exit a high-pressure world and career that’s unhealthy for her.

    And you base this medical conclusion on what exactly, doctor?

    If her condition(s) can be managed by reasonable accommodations (as it mostly has to date), why would we want to prevent her from playing tennis or the rest of us from enjoying her talent?

    6
  75. steve says:

    Her job, to which she agreed, is to play tennis AND do interviews. The large amounts of money she wins does not come out of thin air. The TV sponsors are counting on those interviews for their shows and they have already collected money from advertisers. If she does not interview advertisers stop paying or even ask for money back. If she doesnt want to do her full job then she needs a new agreement. Maybe she accepts only half of the winnings. Maybe the Tennis Federation decides there isnt that much difference between her and the number 3 player so they just dump her. Whatever.

    Steve

    3
  76. SKI says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    James arguably was lazy adding scare quotes to “mental health”, but the over-the-top outrage in some comments above is a great example of why people stop listening to progressive voices and just roll their eyes. When everything is turned up to 11, nothing is turned up to 11. Some sense of proportion would be nice, as well as some tolerance.

    The guy who rants about how horrible kidlit and “progressives” are multiple times a week thinks someone else is “out of proportion”? lol.

    Look, there is no question this is personal for me. I have family who have serious anxiety issues. People on the outside likely have no clue they do, you can’t tell by looking at them, but the impact is real. And I’ve seen how they get treated when the anxiety impacts their ability to perform the “social niceties” that seem like no big deal to people without anxiety issues.

    When someone tells you they have an issue; believe them.
    When someone tells you they need a reasonable accommodation; try to give it to them.
    When someone brings value but doesn’t fit into a “normal” box; treasure the value.

    11
  77. Lounsbury says:

    @SKI: Well silly preening twat, it’s an opinion as a human being and someone who works in a high pressure field

    Since not a single person commenting here is either a top league tennis professional nor her medical professional, it’s all electrons of opinion.

    And as the interests and considerations of other top tier players are also part of the package, the judgment of reasonable accomodation is not for armchair analysts.
    @steve:
    Yes, one can get something of a reasonable perspective in this NYT arty
    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/31/sports/tennis/french-open-naomi-osaka-quits.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

    Tennis champions and would-be champions have been dealing with such challenges in the interview room for decades and if Osaka is sensitive to questions about her weaknesses on clay, imagine how Pete Sampras felt when he was asked about his own failings for more than a decade as he tried and failed to win Roland Garros.

    And yet he kept showing up for news conferences and chasing the prize, just as Jana Novotna did at Wimbledon before finally winning the singles title in 1998.

    As Billie Jean King likes to say, pressure is a privilege, and repetitive questions are an inconvenience but also a reflection of legitimate public interest. Media coverage, much of it favorable, has helped Osaka become the world’s best paid female athlete. She earned more than $55 million in the last year, nearly all of it from sponsorship deals.

    That brings its own new pressures. “She has lots on her back,” said Marin Cilic, the Croatian men’s star who once broke down in the middle of a Wimbledon final.

    But facing unwelcome questions, even in defeat, does not seem like too much to ask. “No comment” or a more polite demurral remain legitimate options. But one of the takeaways from l’affaire Osaka may be the realization that some players really do find it all too much to bear (and it did not go unnoticed that Moretton took no questions at his own short news conference on Monday night). The debate will be, how much special treatment should such players receive?

    The bleeding heart Lefty crowd of course uncritically weeps in sympathy for the right icons, but the business that has made her a multi-millionnaire comes in a package. Should she simply want to play sport for pleasure, including tennis, she can opt out of the tournaments.

    There is no special right to be a multi-millionnaire top-tier sports player.

    3
  78. Lounsbury says:

    @SKI:

    When someone tells you they have an issue; believe them.
    When someone tells you they need a reasonable accommodation; try to give it to them.
    When someone brings value but doesn’t fit into a “normal” box; treasure the value
    Pity this is actually your real opinion it would seem and not some Onion-esque mockery of empty headed bleeding heart Leftyism.

    You doubtless make a wonderfully profitable mark.

    3
  79. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mister Bluster:..I think June 30/July 1 should mark the mid-point of 2021.

    Upon review there are 365 days in 2021. Thus 182.5 days would be half of the year which would be 12:00 o’clock noon July 2nd 2021 local time.

  80. Modulo Myself says:

    When someone tells you they have an issue; believe them.
    When someone tells you they need a reasonable accommodation; try to give it to them.
    When someone brings value but doesn’t fit into a “normal” box; treasure the value.

    This was dropped on the French Open out of nowhere. Being tone-deaf to mental health issues aside, the real world of elite sports doesn’t work like that.

    2
  81. Raoul says:

    Like it or not, press availability is part of the global sport. It is what gives fame and money. If one does not like it they can go to mini-tours. In the pre-open era, when tennis was a gentlemen’s and ladies’ sport, there was no need to open up to the press but that’s just not the case now. Billie Jean, Chris, Martina, Steffi, Venus, all made the sport great and rich in part by their media attention. Osaka now wants to reap the rewards of the work others put in without contributing to it. If she can’t handle it she should leave the WTA.

    2
  82. @Lounsbury:

    Of course for the bleeding heart Lefty crowd dress up any priviledged whinging on in the right ethno-genderized clothing with a dash of society’s the blame and voila, instant empty minded uncritical acceptance.

    No, it is actually knowing people with anxiety-related and other mental health issues and recognizing that it is not as easy as it seems to understand what those people are going through, especially at a distance.

    It is also giving a human being the benefit of the doubt unless there is a reason to do otherwise.

    TBH, I find it weird that people think they know enough to render a negative judgment here.

    God forbid we should be compassionate to our fellow humans.

    25
  83. MarkedMan says:

    @SKI:

    An appropriate analogy would be refusing to go out to happy hour “with the team”

    Sure. That would be a good analogy, if you had signed a contract that included acting as the host of a happy hour under certain circumstances. You might even have thought these happy hours were non or counter productive, but you signed the contract. If you now want to change the rules, it’s a change to the terms of the contract. And you are making everyone else scramble to accommodate you, because you don’t care that they think it is important. Important enough that you put it into the contract.

    And I realize you were trying to trivialize this when you compared it to going out to happy hour with the team, but there are all kinds of jobs that have something similar as a formal or de facto requirement. Sales Reps have to host clients. Senior staff have to host visiting corporate officials. And if you don’t think you should have to do it because it’s stupid, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t get done, it means your coworkers have to pick up the slack.

    When I was in China, every year I had to get up and perform a hokey number at the Spring Festival talent show with the rest of the senior leadership. God as my witness I once did this number with the other directors and the VP. Another year had us dressed up in sheep costumes and singing some other goofy number. Trust me, that was not in my contract, and I thought it was stupid, and I suspect my VP did too, given the amount of alcohol she consumed to fortify herself. But she felt this tradition of the senior staff showing up and being the butt of mild fun once a year was important and so I forced my mental compass to the “Goofy Good Time” direction and ran into it for all it was worth. I didn’t second guess her or argue with her or make it all about me, and neither did any of my colleagues. We did that often enough over things we considered important, but she felt this was an important part of our success and she didn’t need us being a pain about it.

    4
  84. @Steven L. Taylor: And, I would note, she was objecting to a relatively minor aspect of her job.

    How many of those rendering judgment even knew press conferences were a requirement until this story blew up?

    12
  85. EddieInCA says:

    @wr:

    We just disagree. She chose to tell the tournament her intentions ahead of time. They fined her and threatened her with disqualification. She chose to withdraw. The tournament lost of of their biggest draws. She did what she chose as best for her, knowing the ramifications.

    Good on her, for putting herself first. Nike, Beats, Mastercard, Nissin, and Audi aren’t going to drop her sponsorships. She’s 23 and already worth $75M plus. At this point, she doesn’t need Tennis, the WTA, or Roland Garros. She’s made generational money.

    And I currently work for WBTV, which has a very, very strong mental health policy on the books, so I CAN take time off, by asking for it, for mental health reasons. And, full disclosure, I did ask for time off, several times during the pandemic, when I felt overwhelmed. Had I not been given the time off, I would have had a breakdown, I’m certain. The longest time off I took was 5 days. Twice was three days, and another time was two days. With zero repercussions. I have a great team, so we didn’t miss a beat.

    Lastly, I make it part of every deal I make, that I’m not required to to any publicity or marketing. I just don’t have the patience or stamina for that bullshit. Other people do. I do not. If it was part of my job to do public speaking, I’d find another job. Not because I can’t speak publicly. But because I don’t want to. It’s one of the reasons I’m not on social media.

    16
  86. @Lounsbury: Your need to call names rather undercuts your claim to handle high-stress situations all that well.

    22
  87. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “Sure, this could be a temper tantrum, but it could also be the beginning of the end of her career.”

    I hope not. It’s really hard to become a star at such a young age and stay sane. (I say this not from personal experience, but just observation.) But I get the sense that the other players like her and some of them understand what she must be going through — hopefully they’ll get her through and past this. Heck, even Roger Federer had a period in his teens when he was an angry jerk…

    1
  88. wr says:

    @SKI: “Fuck you for presuming the converse or insisting that it is something that can just be out-toughed. just fuck you to hell.”

    Thank you so much for your lovely sentiments. You have really elevated this conversation.

    3
  89. wr says:

    @Kurtz: ” Then the four slams decided that they would escalate the fines.”

    No. The escalating fines — that is, escalating with each press conference missed — are in the rules.

    “And the promoters? Fuck ’em. Nobody knows who they are. They’re people who own capital to siphon money off talent. There’s a reason players felt the need to unionize.”

    So basically you know nothing about the business of tennis, and you’re just making shit up.

    3
  90. George says:

    @SKI:

    All of which is irrelevant to the principal issue – we should make sure we structure *all* of society to allow for reasonable accommodations of peoples’ differences.

    I agree in general. But we’re talking about elite sport, which rarely accommodate differences (ie slow, weak, clumsy people aren’t accommodated in many sports — they’re brutally cut from teams, usually long before they can make a dollar playing professionally). However, I agree it would be better if they did — with the correct accommodations I could play in the NHL (adjustments on the ability to skate, shoot, pass, stick handle etc), and I think I’d rather enjoy that. The only problem is that there are probably several hundred million other people who could also play in the NHL with the correct accommodations, so I wouldn’t see much ice time.

    I think they’ll accommodate her, because she’s worth too much to them not to. But they’re going to do that on a case by case basis rather than on the general principle that everyone who wants to play in the WTA should be accommodated, because the whole nature of professional sport is to reject people for not meeting what would be in most jobs extremely and unfairly high standards.

    1
  91. Jen says:

    She’s 23 years old. Britney Spears had her breakdown at 25. Many mental health disorders manifest fully in late adolescence and in early 20s, with three-quarters of diagnosed cases manifesting by mid-20s.

    It could be both true that this is what she signed on for, and also that she cannot manage further.

    11
  92. SKI says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And I realize you were trying to trivialize this when you compared it to going out to happy hour with the team

    I wasn’t trivializing it. I remember this exact situation 25+ years ago when I was a young associate in not-really-so-big law. I had a wife that, despite the fact we had a very young child, allowed me to change my plans on a dime when the partner decided that he wanted to go out to dinner, with or without a client to entertain, and we were expected to join. Others, particularly the handful of women in the department, couldn’t always do that- and I saw that it impacted the way they were perceived and treated.

    I’m glad you were able to handle the expectations in China. Others couldn’t. If you had a colleague in a wheelchair, would your boss have insisted they perform a dance number? Of course not. She would have found an accommodation to make sure they could participate but not tried to make them do something they couldn’t do.

    And fundamentally, that is what this is about: mental or behavioral health issues are real health issues. They aren’t something we should be asking people to just ignore and they aren’t something that can be treated by having a few drinks.

    5
  93. wr says:

    @SKI: “An appropriate analogy would be refusing to go out to happy hour “with the team”.”

    It’s rare that going out to happy hour is a contractual obligation. It’s rare that going out to happy hour is considered to be such an important part of the job that escalating fines for skipping it are built into the contract.

    Hey, I don’t watch these press conferences, but apparently the people who run the WTA — and the ATP, where they’re also mandatory — find them really important.

    Just maybe the people who run the tour have some idea what they’re doing, and they’re not just imposing this terrible burden on the players for funsies.

    I don’t know why some people have decided that not only is Naomi Osaka a martyr to the cruelties of capitalism, but that the WTA, which was founded by Billie Jean King and whose organization structure includes a council of players, is somehow the same as the NFL owners group. Not everything is a fight between good and evil.

    3
  94. R. Dave says:

    @SKI: I would agree that she would have the burden vis-a-vis the organizers. But for the public? Hard disagree. The only facts in evidence are that (a) she said she suffered from anxiety and depression – something that carried with it consequences as this thread demonstrates, (b) she was willing to be fined to avoid attending press conferences and (c) walked away from hundreds of thousands of dollars (and possibly about $1.7 million if she won). All of which point to there actually being an issue.

    And on the other side? What can you point to as evidence a reasonable person could rely on for the opposite point?

    Well, first of all, I don’t think anyone here is arguing that she’s outright faking, but rather that her anxiety would have to be well outside the norm to meet the threshold for a genuine mental health issue that justifies refusing to perform the ordinary duties of her profession, and she hasn’t really provided any indication that’s the case beyond mere assertion.

    Regarding the facts in evidence that you cite, I think your item (a) embeds two separate points: (1) that she said she suffers from anxiety and depression and (2) that doing so leads to negative consequences. Item 1 is a fact, of course, but I think item 2 is highly debatable these days, at least for big name female stars. Playing the victim card is often a winning move in the current cultural climate. Hell, Serena Williams turned an unsportsmanlike tantrum into a PR win by playing the racism/sexism victim card a couple of years ago, and I’ll be dollars to donuts that Osaka comes out with a PR win on this one too. And as for her willingness to accept the fines and ultimately to walk away from the tournament purse, she makes so much on endorsements and advertising that she has more than enough “fuck you money” to absorb that.

    So, what we have is (a) a rich and famous star player (b) refusing to participate in off-court publicity that (c) primarily benefits the sport as a whole and the tournament organizers in particular rather than the individual player, (d) willing to accept fines and walk away from the tournament purse, and (e) citing anxiety and depression as the reason, which (f) arguably may be a net positive or a net negative for her from a PR perspective.

    I think those facts are reasonably consistent with several scenarios – e.g., (1) she genuinely has severe anxiety and depression issues that prompted her actions here; (2) she has normal levels of anxiety and/or depression but some combination of her own personality and our current cultural moment have mislead her into genuinely but erroneously thinking it’s not normal and thus worthy of accommodation; and (3) her stardom has gone to her head and she’s being an entitled asshole about having to do the scut work that comes with the job and she’s cynically playing the victim card to justify it.

    4
  95. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    TBH, I find it weird that people think they know enough to render a negative judgment here.

    Truer words never spoken… I sure as heck don’t have any basis on which to render in opinion. My gut tells me she is in trouble mentally, but she could also just being a spoiled star who doesn’t want to do the parts she doesn’t like. And I have no idea how much money the press scrum brings in and what it would mean to lose that income.

    A discussion on whether press conferences are “interesting” is a waste of time. The only questions that matter are how much sponsors pay to have their logos displayed alongside the players, and how much impact it would have to lose that revenue. Those dollars are somebodies responsibility and if they don’t deliver them they have to be made up somewhere else or they have to downsize in some way.

    Osaka is an individual, with an individual circumstance. I wish her the best and hope she is able to overcome her difficulties or, if she can’t, transition successfully to a life not based on playing high pressure tennis to an audience of hundreds of millions. But the promoters have to run a business. And if they just excuse Osaka from the press scrum simply based on her statement that it is causing her difficulties, I suspect that tomorrow they will have fifty more players saying it causes them debilitating anxiety. And no, we shouldn’t just believe them.

    3
  96. wr says:

    @Lounsbury: “Should her issues be real (which is entirely plausible) then the healthiest thing for her is rather likely not some fudged pseudo-accomodations but to exit a high-pressure world and career that’s unhealthy for her.”

    Ash Barty, who is ranked in the top five, went through this. She began to find tennis unbearably stressful and she walked away, taking up croquet (because a team sport is less pressured than an individual one). After a couple years of that, she was able to pull herself together, go back to tennis, and start her run to the top.

    1
  97. wr says:

    @Lounsbury: “Of course for the bleeding heart Lefty crowd dress up any priviledged whinging on in the right ethno-genderized clothing with a dash of society’s the blame and voila, instant empty minded uncritical acceptance.”

    Hey, I’m as lefty as anyone around here, and I agree with you.

    Just as not everything is good vs. evil, not everything is left vs. right.

    3
  98. MarkedMan says:

    @George:

    with the correct accommodations I could play in the NHL

    I could play goalie if each of my kneepads was exactly half the size of the goal…

    1
  99. SKI says:

    @wr:

    It’s rare that going out to happy hour is a contractual obligation. It’s rare that going out to happy hour is considered to be such an important part of the job that escalating fines for skipping it are built into the contract.

    You keep repeating that “she signed a contract” like she could have negotiated the terms or something. She didn’t – and even if she did, the situation has clearly changed for her.

    You also keep treating her mental health issues as a matter of choice. Like she should just tough it out. That is what is so offensive.

    Hey, I don’t watch these press conferences, but apparently the people who run the WTA — and the ATP, where they’re also mandatory — find them really important.

    Just maybe the people who run the tour have some idea what they’re doing, and they’re not just imposing this terrible burden on the players for funsies.

    Are you sure they are so important to the WTA that they won’t accommodate her in the future? I’m betting they will.

    And for the record, I don’t have a huge issue with the WTA in this case. I think they should, and likely will in the future, reach a reasonable accommodation with her.

    I have an issue with James and you and others in this thread who are making claims, explicit and implicit, that she is faking or that anxiety isn’t real or she should just tough it out.

    7
  100. R. Dave says:

    @MarkedMan: I could play goalie if each of my kneepads was exactly half the size of the goal…

    Total non-sequitur, but this reminded me of a really interesting (if long-winded) Atlantic article from former Montreal goaltender, Ken Dryden: “Hockey Goalies Are Too Big Now”.

    2
  101. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “And, I would note, she was objecting to a relatively minor aspect of her job.”

    As much as it pains me to find myself in disagreement with you, who are you to determine how minor or major a part of her job this is? I suspect you have roughly zero knowledge of the economic and other workings of the professional tennis tour and have decided that because you didn’t know that these press conferences were required, no one knew.

    Believe me, anyone who follows professional tennis knows about them. They may not be integral to the game itself, but they are to the coverage of the game.

    There are plenty of ways to look at this dispute and come down on either side. But just as it would be unfair and useless to simply assume that Osaka is lying about her mental illness, it’s also unfair and useless to say that the WTA is attempting to enforce this rule simply to demonstrate their power, or that they press conferences are of no value to anyone.

    I’d suggest that it’s far more likely that there are two sides here with conflicting and yet both legitimate needs. Dismissing the one because you prefer the other gets you the kind of peace deal Jared Kushner managed in Israel.

    2
  102. steve says:

    I have about 170 people of whom I am in charge. I hired most of them and know a lot of them very well. We work 24/7 in a pretty high stress environment so we hear each other’s life stories. So I have the woman whose daughter was tortured to death. I have people whose kids committed suicide or were killed very young in car accidents. Lots of people dealing with family who have drug issues. The problems people deal with and still come to work and do their best to help others never ceases to amaze me. We do our best to make accommodations when people are having trouble at home, however we do sometimes reach a point where we cannot make anymore accommodations. They can ether do the necessary work or they cannot. If they cannot I sit down and cry with them, literally, and they have to move on. If things change we do everything we can to bring them back assuming they can still function.

    If this person really cant do the job they either need the job definition changed, which will take mutual agreement from the Tennis association, or she needs to move on. When she is improved then come back. This is just how things work. Physically ill or mentally ill you need to be able to meet some minimal standard to work.

    Steve

    4
  103. wr says:

    @SKI: “I have an issue with James and you and others in this thread who are making claims, explicit and implicit, that she is faking or that anxiety isn’t real or she should just tough it out.”

    I think you are reading that into my comments because you are personally sensitized to these mental health issues.

    I would never claim she’s faking — I’ve never met the woman, almost certainly never will, and don’t try to reads minds, particularly of strangers.

    I have said she handled this whole thing terrible, put the WTA in a terrible spot, and then seemed to realize she had fucked up and backed out of the tournament.

    She pulled a stupid, crappy move. Hopefully because she’s young and wasn’t aware of what she was doing, hopefully making her announcement before she told her management team.

    She announced she wasn’t doing press before telling the WTA and allowing them work out a resolution. She basically screwed everyone around her.

    If she has anxiety disorders, I wish her well and hope to see her get past them soon.

    But that’s only a reason not to do press conferences. It’s not an excuse for hanging everyone else out to dry.

    2
  104. wr says:

    @SKI: “You keep repeating that “she signed a contract” like she could have negotiated the terms or something.”

    Welcome to the world. You want to play top-tier tennis, you follow the same rules as everyone else.

    1
  105. SKI says:

    @R. Dave:

    Well, first of all, I don’t think anyone here is arguing that she’s outright faking, but rather that her anxiety would have to be well outside the norm to meet the threshold for a genuine mental health issue that justifies refusing to perform the ordinary duties of her profession, and she hasn’t really provided any indication that’s the case beyond mere assertion.

    Some have. In fact, you just kinda did. Statements like: “Playing the victim card is often a winning move in the current cultural climate.”

    I think those facts are reasonably consistent with several scenarios – e.g., (1) she genuinely has severe anxiety and depression issues that prompted her actions here; (2) she has normal levels of anxiety and/or depression but some combination of her own personality and our current cultural moment have mislead her into genuinely but erroneously thinking it’s not normal and thus worthy of accommodation; and (3) her stardom has gone to her head and she’s being an entitled asshole about having to do the scut work that comes with the job and she’s cynically playing the victim card to justify it.

    You have no actual facts to support 2 or 3. Just basing them on your own gut feelings, biases and stereotypes. Those things are theoretically possible but they, particularly #3, require you to project her as acting in bad faith.

    #3 is also particularly nonsensical given she is throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars. What kind of person would she have to be to do that and what evidence do you have that she is being anything but forthright? All the media coverage of her for the last few years has been positive. The “controversies have been (1) her promotion of BLM, (2) that she flies in a private jet as shown when she wished her twitter followers Merry Christmas in Japanese.

    1
  106. just nutha says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Except that she’s not a fellow human being, she’s a tennis star–someone who, for what seems to be a large number of our cohort, is the equivalent of a trained seal at the circus. If she’d left the tourney because she broke her leg, everyone would be “aww, poor Naomi, such a tragedy…” Because something intangible broke, she’s just another worthless snowflake who’s no longer doing her job. HOW DARE SHE TREAT US LIKE THAT!

    10
  107. Michael Cain says:

    The mental health aspects are a serious thing. That said, I hope that when he finishes his coaching career Gregg Popovich turns to teaching people how to handle a presser. I understand that there are reporters who are afraid to ask a question at a Popovich presser.

    3
  108. wr says:

    @SKI: “All the media coverage of her for the last few years has been positive. ”

    Well, clearly, then she must be a uniquely wonderful person, because there has never been a time in human history when the media portrait of a celebrity didn’t match up to their actual self.

    Just like Johnny Depp was once a completely wonderful guy, and now he’s a completely horrible human being. Because that’s what the media coverage says!

    1
  109. wr says:

    @SKI: “#3 is also particularly nonsensical given she is throwing away hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

    She is worth seventy-five million right now….

    2
  110. just nutha says:

    @R. Dave: I LOVED that article when I read it! Ken Dryden was my favorite goalie during that era. Followed closely by Billy Smith a few years later.

    2
  111. wr says:

    @just nutha: “xcept that she’s not a fellow human being, she’s a tennis star–someone who, for what seems to be a large number of our cohort, is the equivalent of a trained seal at the circus.”

    Right. Because doing the job for which you are paid tens of millions of dollars and which you’ve chosen to prepare for all your life is exactly like being a captive animal forced to perform. And anyone who doesn’t understand how particularly horrible is this form of indentured servitude is just a slobbering, selfish asshole.

    I am so glad to be schooled in this.

    3
  112. just nutha says:

    @wr: You have no mirrors in your house, I take it?

    7
  113. @wr:

    As much as it pains me to find myself in disagreement with you, who are you to determine how minor or major a part of her job this is? I suspect you have roughly zero knowledge of the economic and other workings of the professional tennis tour and have decided that because you didn’t know that these press conferences were required, no one knew.

    Believe me, anyone who follows professional tennis knows about them. They may not be integral to the game itself, but they are to the coverage of the game.

    It is utterly fair to state that I may well be misunderstanding, or even wholly ignorant, of the importance of these press conferences. I will admit that I do see the fact that companies are paying big amounts to put their logos behind the athletes when they speak and that ain’t nothing and maybe it is even enough to warrant this being a real contractual problem.

    Still, one has to admit that a few minutes at a press conference is a minor part of her job and the major part is playing tennis. And this is true even if we are just focusing on things like how many people see which logo.

    7
  114. @wr:

    I’d suggest that it’s far more likely that there are two sides here with conflicting and yet both legitimate needs.

    This is almost certainly the case. And, really, I don’t think I have said anything in this thread that suggests otherwise.

    My push-back is mainly focused on people asserting, definitively, that she is in the wrong and that it is impossible that she is having legitimate mental health issues.

    I accept that at the end of the day, this could all be a combo of immaturity and divaishness.

    3
  115. SKI says:

    @wr: As you know, I wasn’t pointing that out to claim she was a freaking saint but to point out that there isn’t evidence – any evidence – that she was the type of “entitled asshole” Dave was positing as a possible explanation for why she was faking it.

    Are you claiming that because Johnny Depp turned out to be a horrible human being who at one point got positive press, that is evidence that someone who gets positive press are horrible people? If not, what is your point – other than being argumentative?

    @wr:

    She is worth seventy-five million right now….

    Again, that was part of a discussion about whether there was any evidence that she was faking it. Have you changed your stated position and now think she is faking it? If not, what is your point?

    1
  116. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I accept that at the end of the day, this could all be a combo of immaturity and divaishness.

    A cleaner explanation could be that she actually has anxiety issues.

    Having those could *also* make her very bad at communicating and advocating for herself -impacting not only the press conference issues but the way she handled it. Trying to avoid the stressful conflict-ridden situation – and making it worse in the process.

    1
  117. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    It is utterly fair to state that I may well be misunderstanding, or even wholly ignorant, of the importance of these press conferences. I will admit that I do see the fact that companies are paying big amounts to put their logos behind the athletes when they speak and that ain’t nothing and maybe it is even enough to warrant this being a real contractual problem.

    Still, one has to admit that a few minutes at a press conference is a minor part of her job and the major part is playing tennis. And this is true even if we are just focusing on things like how many people see which logo.

    Note that the sponsors are principally concerned with having their logo *on the court* when people are actually watching and in commercials as the “official sponsor of”. Given that the press conferences aren’t televised, even on the Tennis Network and rarely even make the youtube clips for the network , the value to be seen as part of the background kinda goes away. The press conferences are primarily for the print media, not the tv cameras.

    1
  118. wr says:

    @SKI: “Are you claiming that because Johnny Depp turned out to be a horrible human being who at one point got positive press, that is evidence that someone who gets positive press are horrible people? If not, what is your point – other than being argumentative?”

    My point is that any connection between the press narrative about a celebrity and the reality of the human being is strictly coincidental, and to use her good coverage as some kind of proof about her — which is what you were doing — is like saying that George W. Bush clearly would have been a better president than Al Gore because all the press thought W was a great guy and they hated Gore.

    2
  119. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: ” I will admit that I do see the fact that companies are paying big amounts to put their logos behind the athletes when they speak and that ain’t nothing ”

    It’s been a few years since I watched one of these press conferences, but my memory is that the only logo behind the athlete is that of the tournament. They generally do have a bottle of the “right” kind of water in front of them, though.

    They exist to get the players’ quotes out to the press.

  120. Jen says:

    I find it hard to believe that there isn’t some type of health exclusion for these press conference requirements. If a player finished a match, and on their way off the court they slipped and got a concussion rendering them unable to sit for questions, what happens?

    I also find it interesting that no one has really questioned the media’s role in this, other than this piece:

    We’re not the good guys: Osaka shows up problems of press conferences
    Jonathan Liew

    […] Others have more soberly pointed out that for any athlete, facing the media is simply part of the job, and that by seceding from the process entirely Osaka is setting a “dangerous precedent”.

    At this point, it’s worth considering exactly what this “danger” consists of. All over the world, the free press is already under unprecedented assault from authoritarian governments, tech giants and online disinformation. In many countries journalists are literally being killed for doing their job. Meanwhile in Paris, tennis journalists are facing the prospect of having to construct an article entirely from their own words. One of these things is not like the others.

    5
  121. SKI says:

    @wr: Which would be a lovely point in a different conversation.

    I was pointing out that Dave didn’t have any evidence to support that she is a bad person. And pointing to the absurdity of the “controversies” about her so far. If he, or you,, want to claim that she is a bad person who is faking having issues and lying, you need to offer something to justify that claim. Otherwise you have nothing but bigotry, bias and stereotypes.

    Are you going to claim she is faking? If not, just stop.

    2
  122. wr says:

    @SKI: @SKI: “Again, that was part of a discussion about whether there was any evidence that she was faking it. Have you changed your stated position and now think she is faking it? If not, what is your point?”

    My point is that you keep making these incredibly sloppy arguments that actually undercut your real point. She must be a good person because she gets good press. She would never walk away from a few hundred grand despite the fact she’s worth 75 million. And I call you on them because they are nonsense arguments that have nothing to do with whatever the reality at hand may be.

    1
  123. wr says:

    @wr: Because maybe if we can clear through the straw men, we can focus on the real issues. That’s my point.

    That and I accidentally hit post too early on the last message.

  124. Michael Cain says:

    @wr:

    They exist to get the players’ quotes out to the press.

    99% of which are inane, or at least entirely predictable. Someone at a different site noted today that it wouldn’t be that big a job to train Alexa to answer them, and get very similar results. I suppose that at some level it’s like NASCAR only for the reporters: it’s all about that 1% of the time when the player crashes.

    3
  125. Michael Cain says:

    @George:

    I think they’ll accommodate her, because she’s worth too much to them not to. But they’re going to do that on a case by case basis rather than on the general principle that everyone who wants to play in the WTA should be accommodated…

    I will be interested to see what happens in a few years, when the hundred top players in the world say no. I expect that the WTA will find that it can get by quite well w/o the post-match press conferences, and after a few years everyone will be all “Why did we ever put the talent through that sort of thing?”

  126. wr says:

    @SKI: “Are you going to claim she is faking? If not, just stop.”

    I have never claimed she’s faking and no matter how many times you insist that I am doing so, I will not. I have the modesty to admit that I will never have the power to see inside her head. I seem to be the only one here who isn’t claiming that ability.

    2
  127. Teve says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Someone at a different site noted today that it wouldn’t be that big a job to train Alexa to answer them, and get very similar results.

    “So why do you think the Lakers beat you tonight?”
    “Well, you know, we were trying to stop them from scoring the ball, but we weren’t able to do that as much as we needed to, and our own offense coulda been better. I just think they wanted it more, Jim. But we’re gonna come out on Friday and really try to execute our plays, and hold them to fewer points.”
    “Thanks, Bucky. That’s some penetrating analysis. Back to Ernie in the studio.”

    3
  128. Michael Cain says:

    @Teve:

    “So why do you think the Lakers beat you tonight?”

    Gotta love Pop’s answers to that sort of question.

    “They played better than we did.”
    “Why did your team have so much trouble guarding LeBron?”
    “He’s LeBron James. <slowly>Le-Bron-James. <normal>Where have you been living for the last decade?”
    “What adjustments will you make for the next game?”
    “If I knew, do you think I would tell you here?”

    2
  129. R. Dave says:

    @SKI: I was pointing out that Dave didn’t have any evidence to support that she is a bad person. And pointing to the absurdity of the “controversies” about her so far. If he, or you,, want to claim that she is a bad person who is faking having issues and lying, you need to offer something to justify that claim. Otherwise you have nothing but bigotry, bias and stereotypes.

    Neither I nor WR are claiming she “is a bad person who is faking having issues and lying”. For my part, all I am claiming is that the facts in evidence don’t preclude that possibility or any number of other possibilities because there are virtually no actual facts in evidence. All we actually know at this point is that a rich tennis star refused to do post-match press, was willing to accept what, to her, are trivial financial losses as a result, and claimed that her actions were driven by mental health issues. That’s it. She could be telling the truth. She could be lying. She could be self-deluded. Any conclusions you or I or anyone else here reach about which of those possibilities is the actual case are purely the result of our own priors about whether and when self-reported claims of mental health issues should be presumed true absent convincing evidence to the contrary. The actual facts available are equally consistent with a young athlete having a genuine mental health crisis and with a superstar athlete having a diva moment, both of which are things that happen with some frequency.

    3
  130. Kurtz says:

    @wr:

    Uh, excuse me?

    We all tune in to see the “business” of tennis don’t we? I very politely expressed surprise at your point, and this is how you respond? Puh-leeze.

    For someone who talks a big woke game, criticizing people for implicit sexism and racism, you certainly like to play apologetics when it comes to business interests. This kind of shit makes it seem like all your over-heated criticism around here is, I can’t believe I’m saying this, virtue signaling.

    You have not a clue what my point is.
    (hint: Scroll up, jackass. But I have little faith you will, as it was in a comment tagged to someone else and not you.) So let’s compare what the two of us have said.

    Let’s see:

    You tried to compare a post-match press conference to fucking call sheets on a TV production. Whereas, above, I made the point that the reason that those clauses are in the contract is for sponsorship dollars. It no longer has anything to do with promoting the player.

    At one time, yes, it was the primary way for a player to become a personality beyond their play. But the landscape has changed. Players no longer have to go through the media gatekeeper to promote themselves. The value of the interview, in front of a backboard with Rolex and Porsche on it, is because those interviews then get re-aired on sports channels.

    Again, cui bono? Well, what was once a mutually beneficial relationship between player, tournament, and media has now become something that only benefits the latter two. And in some cases, is a detriment to the player, the person who produces the work that drives all the money into the pool.

    Now, if you want to compare it to show business, there are a couple ways:

    Do they tack on interviews with the actors after a movie? No. Why would they? The press tour is done to increase recognition of the product before consumption. The star may hate it, but a flop damages their earning potential. That is much more direct than the way money flows in sports.

    The post-match interview does little for the player if the people involved are the ones deriving the value from it. In fact, in this case, it was likely affecting Osaka’s performance on the court for no value off it.

    On your point about fragility: you know what George Harrison said about Elvis? That he felt bad for the King, because at least The Beatles had each other to lean on when they became the most famous people in the world. Presley was all alone. Nobody else knew what it was like to have that amount of attention directed at them.

    And all that pressure was still enough to be part of the tension that came between The Fab Four, who had become like brothers. And Elvis, like Michael Jackson a couple decades later, never really found a way to cope with it, did he?

    When you’re on the tennis court, you’re all alone. Period. That’s plenty of pressure and one doesn’t have teammates to lean on. It’s a lonely road. It’s the loneliness of the long distance runner, but with spectators, cameras, and journalists eyeing you the whole time–watching every fault and double-fault; judging every facial expression.

    So no, you’re way off base on your characterization of what people are saying about Osaka and about what I am saying wrt the business of tennis. And if you want some information about prize pools at grand slams vs. revenue, feel free to ask–I have what little is known publically. As well as plenty of things to say about Federer and Nadal vs. Djokovic. I prefer the former two as personalities and players, but the latter earned my respect in his unionization attempts because he is taking a stand for the players at the expense of his own influence with ATP.

    I don’t engage you much, because I broadly agree with a lot of what you say here. And the times I don’t are typically minor issues that you would likely ignore anyway. But if you put your focus on understanding what people are saying rather than itching to spout off, you might realize two things about me:

    -I typically don’t talk out of turn and when I’m speculating, I flag it and caveat it.

    -I’m also willing to be corrected if I get something wrong, and I will admit it. But the opposition better bring the goods.

    Here, you don’t have the goods. You are grasping for examples because you’re trying to jam your experience in TV as if it applies perfectly to a different type of entertainment. Contracts and call sheets?

    I just did your own thing better than you did. How does that feel?

    But tell me again that I have no idea what I’m talking about, Mr. Kritikal. But be warned, you may want to wake up earlier in the morning.

    8
  131. George says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I will be interested to see what happens in a few years, when the hundred top players in the world say no. I expect that the WTA will find that it can get by quite well w/o the post-match press conferences, and after a few years everyone will be all “Why did we ever put the talent through that sort of thing?”

    I don’t disagree, as I said I think they’ll do the calculation and decide having star players in the game is worth more than having them in press conferences. But I was responding to a post that said ” we should make sure we structure *all* of society to allow for reasonable accommodations of peoples’ differences”, and I was pointing out they’re going to be very selective of what differences they’re going to accommodate. Most workplaces would accommodate someone being physically weak, or clumsy, or out of shape, with mechanical assistance if necessary. I’m guessing the WTA isn’t going to accommodate weaker, slower players with smaller courts on their side, serving machines etc. They’ll accommodate some things (I suspect including press conferences), but the whole nature of elite sport is to try to emphasize differences between people’s ability to do that sport, not to accommodate it.

    As I said, with enough accommodations I could play in the NHL (along with several hundred million other people). I doubt they’re going to be interested in accommodating us, even if some of the accommodations would be very cheap and simple (as Marked pointed out, for a few thousand dollars and a minor change in rules (goalie pads that completely cover the net) any of us could play goalie.

  132. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Slugger: but everyone has had to be gracious to a boss that didn’t feel good.

    There was a time when I thought that was true, but I learned otherwise. The blessings of being a union carpenter where being told/telling people to go f themselves is a daily occurence.

    1
  133. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @R. Dave: The severity of her anxiety issues is an important, arguably determinative, factor in assessing whether her refusal to do the press appearances is reasonable or unreasonable.

    Reasonable? Unreasonable? Who are any of us to decide? She doesn’t want to do them. That should be enough for anyone. What is good or bad for tennis happens on the court, not in a press room. People don’t pay to sit in the stands and watch reporters ask questions, they want to watch tennis. They don’t sit thru endless TV advertising to get to the post game interviews, they do it to see the match.

    6
  134. Thomm says:

    @James Joyner: funny you should bring up losing a leg to me considering I am an amputee myself, as well as having a moderate spinal injury. If I had gotten these in the military I’d be considered in the upper levels of service connected disability and get all sorts of bennies that couldn’t be taken from me, no matter my employment status. I would never bring up my amputation and claim that it is more debilitating than a severe anxiety disorder. I am still able to interact with the world, work a job that some would consider a privilege to have, toss bombs in comment sections at ignorant comments, etc. So, I walk a little slower than most, have trouble with stairs and need to use a wheelchair to hit the bathroom in the middle of the night. BFD. Just because the military doesn’t award a purple heart doesn’t mean a damn thing to me in this comparison. I hope you shed no crocodile tears over veteran suicides then.

    4
  135. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I really don’t have time to read all the comments, but as one who has dealt with anxiety attacks for many years, I have to say that this,

    I think claiming her mental health is at stake because she finds answering questions stressful demeans those with actual mental health problems.

    is truly breathtaking in it’s ignorance. As a union carpenter I went nose to nose with electricians, pipe fitters, iron workers, brick masons, and superintendents. Living on the south side of STL I faced car thieves, burglars, and active shooters. As a caver I dropped virgin pits, rigged 200′ deep rifts for traverse, sucked ceilings, spent hours stuck in a passage, and dared rocks the size of Buicks to crush me all for the chance to walk passages never before seen by man (and many times I did).

    But you put a form 1040 in front of me and I would freeze up every time. Why? I have no idea. I did eventually find a solution. Hire an accountant. Walk in, give the needed forms, answer the questions, walk out. Walk back in 2 weeks later, feel that old fear rising up again, push it down long enough to sign, and pay the nice lady.

    With time, I began to have that reaction damn near every time I had to deal with the govt (not the license bureau, yet) in most any circumstance. Pulled over by a cop? I know I’m going to the graybar hotel, a place that once had me contemplating pounding my head against the bars to produce enough blood that they’d have to take me to the hospital. Go to court? F that shit, that’s what lawyers are for. I will gladly pay $500 for a lawyer to plea me out of a $100 speeding ticket.

    Etc etc.

    No, it doesn’t make sense. Unless you’ve been poor. That feeling of being on the edge of disaster, knowing that the slightest misstep will fuck up your world for years, (I made one once, it did) has never left me. It never will.

    Say anything you want about my anxiety attacks, but don’t say they aren’t real, or easily overcome, or much ado about nothing.

    14
  136. Gustopher says:

    People hide their mental health issues until they can’t. I don’t know anyone who has asked for a reasonable accommodation without having fucked things up pretty royally at least once first.

    Why do they hide it? This thread has lots of good examples.

    Good on Osaka for recognizing her limits, and stepping away if she can’t handle it right now. Bad on the French Open for not figuring out how to keep her, even if they have to scramble and react and, god forbid, bend a fucking rule here or there.

    Some people here are prattling “But how can she handle the high stress world of elite tennis if she can’t handle a press conference?”

    Because tennis is fucking easy for her, and having unknown numbers of people hanging on her every word is not. Get a brain, morons.

    Do you think people make this shit up?

    Do you think emotionally healthy people make this shit up? It’s possible she has some other problem and is hiding behind the stigma of crippling anxiety and depression rather than let the truth out, I suppose. Multiple personality disorder, or something, but unlikely. And really in the world of major mental health problem impacting her abilities.

    How fucking stupid do you have to be to think she just decided to peace out for funsies? Or that she should just try harder, or whatever shit the troglodytes are spewing.

    We’re not supposed to call people out here and insult them directly, but some people here should go fuck themselves with a wire scrubbing brush.

    13
  137. George says:

    @R. Dave:

    Interesting read, thanks. They did have to put a cap on the size of goaltender equipment too.

  138. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    No, it doesn’t make sense. Unless you’ve been poor. That feeling of being on the edge of disaster, knowing that the slightest misstep will fuck up your world for years, (I made one once, it did) has never left me. It never will.

    I have an instinct to say, ‘everybody should be desperately poor for a few years, just to get an idea what it’s like’, but nobody should be. That shit is Traumatic and hurts you for years. What jaw grinding has done to my teeth alone, holy shit.

    5
  139. Kurtz says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    See my comment above. @wr, as I said there, often makes points I agree with. But he is engaging in the naturalistic fallacy here. And, while I can’t say he’s doing it deliberately, isn’t giving complete information.

    Yes, those contracts bring the sponsorship dollars. But those dollars don’t come in because of the people who run tournament; they come in because of those who run the baseline. What he’s not giving you is the percentage of revenue from tournaments that goes to players.

    But let’s look at all this another way: whenever there’s a fight about subsidies and tax breaks given to oil companies, somebody responds with the profit margins for firms in the sector

    For another, perhaps more germane, comparison we can look at the behavior of major sports leagues. They pay out a much larger percentage of revenue to their players. Those players get benefits. They’re structured much differently, of course. They’re closed systems. But they also support larger infrastructure within the wider sport. Yet, players still get around ~50% of revenue in NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB revenues.

    But there are other similarities within them. Most of the regular tour tennis players are much closer to practice squad NFL players in their experience of being a professional. And in the case of tennis, the out of pocket expenses can be much larger than the ones incurred by borderline roster players.

    Piling on Osaka because *contract* is rich for someone who strikes Lefty poses here by accusing people of latent sexism toward her, but simultaneously defends the monetary interests of people whose contribution to the sport is entirely transactional. And he’s doing so without doing any actual work to make his case.

    I’d rather not accuse @wr of bad faith, but his posts are dragging people for forming opinions out of ignorance.

    The thing is, these numbers aren’t all all over the place as they are in other sports. I see mostly estimates of prize pool percentage. One of them said 20-25% purse-to-revenue for non-Slam tour events. But that players are arguing for that percentage to be matched at Slams.

    The US Open paid around 14% of revenue to the prize pool for players in 2019. That same year, the Australian Open set a three year goal of $500m, of which $100m would go to players. I also couldn’t find exact figures for Wimbledon, but saw the same estimate, 12-15%. But that’s the point, right? If these tournaments really are just scraping by on thin margins, why aren’t they saying this? The Guardian quoted a Wimbledon Rep saying the prize money is appropriate and the players are ignoring things like installation of new dressing rooms and other amenities. Oh, right, the French.

    I’ll leave the blockquote to the bottom. But the numbers for the French raise all sorts of questions. The prize pool for the French Open was 42.66m EUR. Revenue for the Open was 261m EUR, so ~16%. But…

    FTF says that they need 100m EUR each year to keep French Tennis afloat, and all the non-Open revenue is 32m. The 71m shortfall is covered by the open. 71+42.66=113.66m.

    Where the hell is the other almost 150m EUR? If you tell me taxes, I say okay, because…France. But I’d be skeptical that France would tax the Federation that highly (can’t find it yet) nor that the staging cost of the three week tournament + taxes is that much.

    This feels way too much like the NFL owners asking for public funds to build stadiums or the various FIFA scandals.

    The French Open:

    In 2020, French tennis is coming to the realisation that it’s tied from head to toes with its clay kingdom. It’s quite simple actually: to keep the whole system afloat, 100 million euros per year are needed. Hughes Cavallin’s numbers are unsparing:

    “Regarding purely expenses of the federation’s system, we need a little above 100 million euros to make it work (National Tehnical Direction, help for the regions, help for clubs, leagues, grants for the youth, training of the best players, help for the national tournaments, national team events, women’s tennis activities). So we need 100 million euros but the federation’s activities only earn 32 million euros. The gap of 71 million euros is entirely filled by Roland-Garros’ earnings. Without Roland-Garros, we can’t run French tennis.

    This reality check even became obvious for those who at first condemned the decision of the FFT to move the French Open to the end of September without asking permission. At some point, personal quarrels are put aside when confronted with the unwavering truth: French tennis can’t do without the 261 million coming from Roland-Garros. Play needs to happen on the French Open courts in 2020, or the fallout will be merciless in the years to come.

    1
  140. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Also, she couldn’t do the interviews and left the tournament because of it. That completes whatever contractual obligations she has to the tourney. The Open can, I suppose, sue her for whatever advance money they paid her and if they do, she should probably pay it back. I’m not seeing the great violation that others seem to be claiming.

    2
  141. Kurtz says:

    @R. Dave:

    I haven’t followed hockey in years, but back when I did: In a league that featured Roy and Brodeur, my favorite was Hasek. Not how one is coached to tend goal, but damn if it wasn’t effective.

    3
  142. Wr says:

    @Kurtz: I have no idea if you know what you’re saying because I have no idea what you’re saying. I’m sorry if I’m so awful I’ve driven you to incoherence but I’m totally lost here. I mean I get that i suck but beyond that I’m lost.

    Maybe if you started by explaining why I want to get up earlier. I’m usually up by 5 am est. Am I missing something?

    1
  143. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher:Some people here are prattling “But how can she handle the high stress world of elite tennis if she can’t handle a press conference?”
    Because tennis is fucking easy for her, and having unknown numbers of people hanging on her every word is not. Get a brain, morons.
    Do you think people make this shit up?

    Exactly my point in @OzarkHillbilly.

    People hide their mental health issues until they can’t. I don’t know anyone who has asked for a reasonable accommodation without having fucked things up pretty royally at least once first.

    I know that I hid from my anxiety issues for years. How? By pretending that I could deal with it later. By hoping that with enough time, the problems would just go away. The arrest warrants never did and dealing with it later… Cost me. Eventually I had to face it.

    5
  144. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Oh man, I still sweep the dinner table for the crumbs.

    I grew up in a very middle class family, but I saw poor when I moved out on my own. I remember stealing beans and buying cigarettes because if I got caught with the beans, they might take pity on me. Always knew that whatever life dealt me I could deal with it. Until I couldn’t.

    Every now and again a movie speaks an inviolable truth. Hell or High Water did: “I’ve been poor my whole life…”

  145. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Also, she couldn’t do the interviews and left the tournament because of it.

    Took me a while to come up with a proper response, but I finally figured out that I wanted to say that in a normal world, that would have been the end of this circus. But she is Naomi Osaka. How dare she deprive us of the opportunity to probe every last crevice of her life.

    4
  146. Jax says:
  147. Raoul says:

    @Gustopher: I don’t know but maybe she should step out of tennis.

  148. R. Dave says:

    @Gustopher: Do you think people make this shit up?

    Yes, some people do make it up. And some people exaggerate their issues. And some people don’t recognize the difference between normal negative thoughts/emotions and true mental illness. And a cultural norm that says self-reported claims of mental illness and demands for accommodation should always be unskeptically accepted without question is a norm that encourages and rewards those people, ultimately at the expense of those who actually do have clinical issues.

    6
  149. Kurtz says:

    @Wr:

    I have no idea if you know what you’re saying because I have no idea what you’re saying. I’m sorry if I’m so awful I’ve driven you to incoherence but I’m totally lost here. I mean I get that i suck but beyond that I’m lost.

    Maybe if you started by explaining why I want to get up earlier. I’m usually up by 5 am est. Am I missing something?

    “get up pretty early in the morning” is a figure of speech. You’re way behind explaining your position in terms of anything other than “sponsorships are important.” “She signed a contract.” You just assert it. No mention of why the press conferences are important to the sponsorship money. (Actually, I mentioned that.) Nor do you provide any detail from the code of conduct.

    The latter point is shakier, because they have an out. But IANAL. Regardless, stop claiming that I don’t know shit about something when it’s demonstrated by my posts that I do. And what have you provided in support of your points? Nothing.

    I’ve done more for your case than you have. So after an apology, I will take a thank you as well.

    Looking at the Grand Slam Player Handbook, it’s unclear to me how they can threaten escalating fines or an investigation with further discipline for skipping media events.

    H. MEDIA CONFERENCE
    Unless injured and physically unable to appear, a player or team must attend the
    post-match media conference(s) organised immediately or within thirty (30) minutes
    after the conclusion of each match, including walkovers, whether the player or team
    was the winner or loser, unless such time is extended or otherwise modified by the
    Referee for good cause. In addition, all Main Draw players must participate, if
    requested, in a pre-event press conference to be arranged during the two days before
    the start of the Main Draw. All media obligations include, but are not limited to,
    interviews with the host and player’s national broadcaster.
    Violation of this Section shall subject a player to a fine up to $20,000.

    No mention of escalating fines. Sure, they can increase it to $20k. But notice there is no clause indicating that this particular offense can be considered aggravated or subject to a decision to declare a default. The other offenses for on-site behavior that risk that declaration all explicitly mention it.

    They cited two sections in their statement: Article III, Section T and Article IV, Section A.3. I’ve provided them at the bottom. The closest they can get is the bolded phrasing. Given the vast majority of the on site conduct is related to conduct specifically related to within a match makes the situation much murkier than their statement and you position allows.

    Further, the violation concerns behavior specified in the code of conduct, and specifies a maximum penalty. Instead, they threatened more than that by relying on a broad prerogative because they apparently never anticipated that a player could be more anxious about a press conference than the pressure faced on the court. This can be inferred with minimal work from the phrase, “regardless of the outcome of the match” in the media availability section.

    Their statement made no mention of sponsorships or money, just:

    The facilitation of media to a broad array of channels, both traditional and digital, is a major contributor to the development and growth of our sport and the fan base of individual players.

    We may disagree on why they didn’t mention it. But between you and me, they probably knew that was a pretty quick way to draw criticism if they crassly raised financial considerations. So instead, they threatened her with unprecedented penalties in excess of those specified for her behavior. She gave them the finger and did what she thought was best for her.

    Why were they so confident that they would come out on top? Because they knew they could count on people like you to make the money argument for them. But please, show us all how accepting you are by defending Demi Lovato’s choice of pronouns. We’re all really impressed by your defense of her.

    T. DEFAULTS
    The Referee in consultation with the Grand Slam Chief of Supervisors may declare a
    default for either a single violation of this Code or pursuant to the Point Penalty
    Schedule set out above.

    In all cases of default, the decision of the Referee in consultation with the Grand
    Slam Chief of Supervisors shall be final and unappealable.
    Any player who is defaulted as herein provided shall lose all ranking points earned
    for that event at that tournament and shall lose all prize money earned at the
    tournament in addition to any or all other fines levied with respect to the offending
    incident. If the offending incident involves a violation of the Covid-19 precautionary
    measures under the Unsportsmanlike Conduct section, Article III R the player shall
    not lose the ranking points earned but may be fined up to the prize money earned at
    the tournament.

    In addition, any player who is defaulted as herein provided may be defaulted from
    all other events, if any, in that tournament, except when the offending incident
    involves only a violation of the Punctuality or Dress and Equipment provisions set
    forth in Article III. B and C, or as a result of a medical condition or when his
    doubles partner commits the Code Violation which causes the default.

    [. . .]

    A. AGGRAVATED BEHAVIOUR
    No player or Related Person at any Grand Slam Tournament shall engage in
    “Aggravated Behaviour” which is defined as follows:

    1. One or more incidents of behaviour designated in this Code as constituting
    “Aggravated Behaviour”.

    2. One incident of behaviour that is flagrant and particularly injurious to the
    success of a Grand Slam Tournament, or is singularly egregious.

    3. A series of two (2) or more violations of this Code within a twelve (12) month period which singularly do not constitute “Aggravated Behaviour”, but
    when viewed together establish a pattern of conduct that is collectively
    egregious and is detrimental or injurious to the Grand Slam Tournaments.

    In addition, any Player or Related Person who, directly or indirectly, offers or
    provides or receives any money, benefit or consideration to or from any other
    Covered Person or third party in exchange for access and/or accreditation to the
    tournament site shall be deemed to have engaged in Aggravated Behaviour and be in
    violation of this Section.

  150. Kurtz says:

    @Lounsbury:

    The bleeding heart Lefty crowd of course uncritically weeps in sympathy for the right icons, but the business that has made her a multi-millionnaire comes in a package. Should she simply want to play sport for pleasure, including tennis, she can opt out of the tournaments.

    There is no special right to be a multi-millionnaire top-tier sports player.

    It’s pretty funny when Right leaning people suddenly want to claim that individuals owe their success to business when it’s convenient for whatever is irritating them that day. It’s comical that you take the closest thing we have to meritocracy–sports–and chalk up an individual’s success to “the business.”

    The business didn’t win the US Open. The business’s personality didn’t make those companies decide that her endorsement is worth millions of dollars, her personality did.

    Those press conferences…@steve is correct, channels pay for the right to broadcast the matches and highlights for them. It’s not as if they can’t show the match or the highlights from it. In fact, they got more hay out of this than they would have if she had given the press conference. But comparing medical workers who have people’s lives at stake to a tennis player’s media obligations just aren’t comparable in the least.

    But again, she is popular because of her tennis skills (including her ability to handle pressure on the court) and because of her personality. Defending a bunch of people who wouldn’t be making money without players like her . . . wow, very brave of you. It reveals a lot about your worldview too–we need to make sure that everyone NOT doing the impressive thing that draws viewers gets paid no matter what.

    Oh, and if you want to know what it looks like when a sport loses charismatic personalities, ask golf how it’s doing compared to when Tiger was in his prime. Fewer kids learning the game; fewer people playing regularly.

    And that last sentence in your post is as silly as it gets. It’s really beneath your intelligence.

    2
  151. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Oh for the LOG … 🙄

    Layering of personal issues – and the garment rending / “volume at 25 from the outset” outrage-fest that’s ensuing here as a result – aside, this is a pretty simple scenario.

    This woman signed a contract to perform certain duties in concert with the opportunity to compete and be compensated. Contractually mandated duties, I might add, which she has unquestioningly already agreed to perform in a multitude of similar prior contracts in the past, so there is no opening to a plea of ignorance here. She knew what she was agreeing to well in advance and agreed to it anyway.

    I’m not going to weigh in on her claims of mental health issues, mostly because 1) I don’t know enough to form an opinion on the legitimacy of those claims and 2) I honestly do not really care that much aside from wishing her well if they’re legitimate and hoping she gets whatever care she feels she needs. That having been said … She signed this contract in full prior knowledge of the existence of her issues AND in full prior awareness of the terms of the contract she was obligating herself to perform when she signed it. That places the issue of blame – indeed the issue of breach and of bad faith negotiation – squarely on her shoulders.

    The time to bring these concerns to the fore and address them is BEFORE executing the contract, and there were undoubtedly a multitude of opportunities open to her to do so before she signed. She also seems to be in a position to afford competent legal representation. She failed to take advantage of them, choosing instead to blindside her counterparties with these concerns at the last possible second. Perhaps she legitimately had or feared a breakdown. Perhaps she’s a diva who just doesn’t feel that the rules should apply to her. Both are, to be honest, equally plausible explanations for her actions here, but the correct remedy would have been to have just withdrawn – or to never have agreed to perform in the first place – rather than trying to, in effect, renegotiate her contract in the court of public opinion.

    Like it or not, this is a business. If she isn’t up to the demands of that business, then she needs to find another business to be in.

    6
  152. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kurtz:

    The business didn’t win the US Open. The business’s personality didn’t make those companies decide that her endorsement is worth millions of dollars, her personality did.

    While I’m loathe to invite wandering into the desert of wall of text exhortations about the proletariat, which I find tiresome – on the flipside, without the exposure and notoriety she obtained by participating in and winning events organized by the business – exposure and notoriety which it appears her entire life has been organized around obtaining access to – she’d be just another talented but unpaid nobody smacking the ball around in Pembroke Pines. One can argue that they’ve done well by each other in a symbiotic relationship, but as I said above, she didn’t sign the contract with a gun to her head, but does appear to have done so in bad faith. On face, it does rather appear to be a case of “I’ve gotten what I wanted, and now that I have, I no longer want to play by rules which are inconvenient for me despite having agreed to do so”.

    Of course, if she doesn’t like the rules of this business, she’s certainly free to organize her own events.

    4
  153. Michael Reynolds says:

    @SKI: @SKI:

    The guy who rants about how horrible kidlit and “progressives” are multiple times a week thinks someone else is “out of proportion”? lol.

    Except that’s not actually true. Pretty sure I’ve never used the word horrible or anything close to describe the business that bought me a nice house and a nice car and a nice investment portfolio. I do say they’re obnoxious. But of course that’s the point, isn’t it? It is obnoxious, it is not horrifying or appalling or a crime against humanity. Just obnoxious. See my point about cranking everything up to 11. The word obnoxious, and synonyms I’ve also used, are 3’s or 4’s, as is appropriate, not hysterical shrieking 11’s.

    Look, there is no question this is personal for me. I have family who have serious anxiety issues. People on the outside likely have no clue they do, you can’t tell by looking at them, but the impact is real. And I’ve seen how they get treated when the anxiety impacts their ability to perform the “social niceties” that seem like no big deal to people without anxiety issues.

    Dude, my family is ass-deep in serious OCD. Three of the four people in my immediate family takes an SSRI – or Buproprion in my case. My father has Alzheimers, as does my mother-in-law. As for anxiety issues I have a real phobia for needles. Imagine how much fun a year of TV video showing shot after shot after shot is for me.

    You are not the spokesman for everyone with a mental issue. Climb down off the cross.

    When someone tells you they have an issue; believe them.

    No. I have no intention of believing everything everyone tells me, that’s idiotic.

    When someone tells you they need a reasonable accommodation; try to give it to them.

    Sure, if it’s workable.

    When someone brings value but doesn’t fit into a “normal” box; treasure the value.

    That sentence doesn’t mean anything.

    4
  154. Vodka66 says:

    the correct remedy would have been to have just withdrawn – or to never have agreed to perform in the first place – rather than trying to, in effect, renegotiate her contract in the court of public opinion.

    Oh bull. Contracts are renegotiated all the time. With public figures, usually in the court of public opinion. She has unique agency via her star power to use the public arena and she doesn’t owe anyone handicapping her argument by forgoing it. If the French Open doesn’t like it they can invite only less accomplished players who are more likely to not have the juice to work public opinion.

    Imagine thinking post-Trump that contracts are somehow set in stone and karmically binding.

    1
  155. HarvardLaw92 says:

    The statement issued by Roland-Garros is illuminating with respect to her conduct.

  156. charon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Like it or not, this is a business. If she isn’t up to the demands of that business, then she needs to find another business to be in.

    She already has “Fvkk U” money and organized tennis needs her more than she needs tennis, so tennis certainly has the ability to be pissy about contracts and see how well that works out for them.

    4
  157. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @charon:

    On the contrary, she’s done well thus far, but she’s hardly achieved what one would consider to be lasting public identity / presence. She’s transitory.

    History is littered with examples of individuals who achieved their 15 minutes and parlayed that into financial gain. I don’t fault her for that in the least, but I do feel fairly confident in saying that if she feels incapable of playing by the same rules as everyone else, and gets excluded as a result, she’ll be replaced by the next shiny object that comes along in short order. The fame machine doesn’t care what product it sells – it just cares that it has a product to sell, and she’s replaceable.

    3
  158. R. Dave says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    SKI: When someone tells you they have an issue; believe them.

    No. I have no intention of believing everything everyone tells me, that’s idiotic.

    Yeah, I don’t understand the current progressive push to automatically believe claims of victimhood/harm/disability/etc. People lie for their own advantage about other things all the time, so why not about those things? I know the argument is always that the stigma associated with things like having a mental illness, being LGBTQ+, getting raped, sexually harassed, discriminated against, and so on means people are highly unlikely to lie about any of those things, but that just means our skepticism about any such claims should be inversely proportional to the level of stigma involved. Since the stigma for all those things has gone down considerably over the last couple of decades and has even been replaced with advantages in certain contexts, it’s entirely appropriate for such claims to be subject to a more normal standard of questioning.

    4
  159. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    While I’m loathe to invite wandering into the desert of wall of text exhortations about the proletariat, which I find tiresome

    If I was in your position, I may not want to hear it either. You’re an attorney, a well trained, highly paid one at that–you can read quickly. 😉

    To be honest, I’m much less frustrated about this particular situation than I am the willingness by people to emphasize the individual over the collective and vice versa when it’s convenient. I find that tiresome.

    Notice that I didn’t bitch about her getting fined. You’re right, she agreed to be bound by certain rules, which also state she can be fined for x amount for y behavior. What bothers me is the lack of voice for the players in crafting those rules, as the players are the reason people watch tennis. As well as the use of a broad mandate to threaten a default and future sanctions not over on court behavior, but about the press conference.

    Say what you will about my politics, at least I’m consistent in how I view things. (I would say this likely describes you better than most as well.) And I’m not calling for a revolution here–I watch tennis, which is not exactly a game of the downtrodden historically. I watch the NFL. But let’s be honest here, football players get close to half of all revenue. Tennis players get nowhere near it.

    1
  160. wr says:

    @Kurtz: “To be honest, I’m much less frustrated about this particular situation than I am the willingness by people to emphasize the individual over the collective and vice versa when it’s convenient. I find that tiresome.”

    Really? I find that sometimes the needs of the individual should be paramount and sometimes the needs of the collective. If you are dying of thirst and the collective has decided that to protect their water supply not a drop can be taken from the reservoir, I’m on your side; if the reservoir has been maintained in pristine form as a source of drinking water and you really want to go swimming in it, I’m with the collective all the way.

    Seems to me that makes more sense than blindly swearing allegiance to one or the other…

  161. wr says:

    @Kurtz: ” What bothers me is the lack of voice for the players in crafting those rules, as the players are the reason people watch tennis. ”

    Are you unaware of the players’ councils, which have a great deal of sway in both the WTA and the ATP?

  162. Kurtz says:

    @wr:

    I wasn’t referring to you with the individual vs. collective point. That was a reference to @Lounsbury.

    You and I are roughly close in viewpoint, but as this discussion shows we disagree on details.

    Yes, I am aware of the player council. I’m also aware that many players think that it doesn’t have enough influence.

    To Federer’s credit, he has publically argued that prize money should be less top heavy than it is now. He was once on the council, so either he’s lying in his public statements, he’s changed his opinion, or they don’t have as much juice as you’re implying. If any player has enormous influence in today’s game, it’s Roger.

    To that last point, Djokovic resigned his position of ‘influence’ because it doesn’t adequately represent the interests of players.

    Again, I’m not arguing that money doesn’t matter. Of course it does. But your position on this, in particular the contract reasoning, is surprising given what I’ve read of your comments. Your contracts are negotiated via collective bargaining, no? The player’s council form of representation is a poor substitute for that.

    But as I pointed out above, the financial structure of tennis is opaque relative to the big 4 American sports. And given how scandal-ridden FIFA has been, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to question whether international tennis is structured in a way that puts players after everyone else.

    On a personal note, stop acting as if I don’t know anything. As I pointed out, if I’m shooting from the hip, I flag it. I acknowledge counter-arguments and issue caveats almost obsessively. And I think it’s been demonstrated repeatedly throughout this thread that I have an idea how the business works.

    Nor do I base my respect for a person’s on alignment between their opinions and my own. But I’m much less tolerant of assumptions of ignorance.

  163. Kurtz says:

    @wr:

    Seems to me that makes more sense than blindly swearing allegiance to one or the other…

    It should be pretty clear by now that I don’t do that. I criticize people for doing that.

    I bristled when @HL snarkily called me Che a while back, because I’m not really ideological. I’m consistent, but I don’t think anyone has all the right answers, certainly not people who have been dead for centuries.

  164. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The statement issued by Roland-Garros is illuminating with respect to her conduct.

    I badly wished there was an easy way to tag you before you entered the discussion, because I was hoping for your perspective on a couple things here.

    -The first was the tax status of the French Tennis Federation

    -The second was the language I referenced in the Grand Slam rulebook in a post above. I was curious about how an attorney would parse that language.

    I read the Roland-Garros statement you reference. They also issued a new statement yesterday. I read the rulebook.

    I concede that they technically have the authority to issue escalating penalties, but it doesn’t flow from the language contained within the specific rule she broke. That rule specifies a maximum penalty of $20k.

    The language that they would rely on is a broad discretion contained in different sections that are referenced as potential penalties in other on-site violations, but not the media availability rule.

    I’m asking you to understand something about me, I am typically not reflexive in these situations. I’m more than willing to be called out if I do behave that way. But your perceptions of me don’t fit with how I think about things. I’m not expecting you and I to agree on a bunch of issues, but I do think it’s fair to ask that you recognize that I’m not some ideological Leftist beast spouting Trotskyist dogma.

  165. wr says:

    @Kurtz: “You and I are roughly close in viewpoint, but as this discussion shows we disagree on details.”

    Yeah, in general we are. Don’t know why we’re arguing here. Sorry if I got obstreperous. If it means anything, I’ve found myself agreeing with Lounsbury, at least to the extent I can parse his sentences, so I am being suitably punished.

  166. wr says:

    @Kurtz: “I read the Roland-Garros statement you reference.”

    By the way, it wasn’t just Roland Garros, it was the WTA. They were folding in the possibility of banning her from Wimbledon and the US Open…

  167. Kurtz says:

    @wr:

    Oh, I know. I’ve agreed with Lounsbury before too. I often find myself upvoting comments from people with whom I have major disagreements more often than I do those with whom I agree.

    I’m most appreciative of something well argued, clever, or funny.

    I think part of the substantive reason for my pushback is the nature of international sport vs. how the leagues in the US work. There is a hell of a lot more transparency here. Yet, there is plenty we don’t know. The organizations that set rules for global competition are mostly dark.

    That’s part of the reason why I get irritated if I get accused of being in the tank for one side or the other. Yes, if (when) a bias exists, I’m likely to side with workers. But as my comments show, I’m unwilling to accept that the business end has no role at all.

    I just don’t like being mischaracterized as something I’m not. That’s normal. But I’ve done a ton of work making distinctions between how I see things and the need to engage in pragmatic action.

    I think that sometimes in my posts, that distinction may get lost in rhetoric, and that’s on me. I think another thing that I don’t communicate well is clarity wrt arguments from a systemic perspective rather than the specific point of contention.

    I’m defending Osaka, but only up to a point. I’m also defending the right to adverse action, but only up to a point. That’s why I was trying to get some clarity on the rules.

    And from what I can tell, my biggest criticism of the governing bodies involved is they may have overreached a bit based on my interpretation of the rules. I’m suspicious of broadly written clauses, but must concede that they’re also necessary. But because a penalty is specified for media availability, I’m skeptical to endorse invocation of the broad authority to determine punishment.

    Does that make more sense now?

    One more quick thing: I’m particularly sensitive to the naturalistic fallacy in terms of economic/financial systems. There’s plenty of room for disagreement there, but it’s another little tidbit of information that may be helpful in parsing things I write.

  168. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kurtz:

    -The first was the tax status of the French Tennis Federation

    Odd duck. It’s a not-for-profit association governed under the Associations Law of 1901, but it also holds a ministerial delegation, which makes it quasi-governmental.

    The second was the language I referenced in the Grand Slam rulebook in a post above. I was curious about how an attorney would parse that language.

    Overly broad and open to interpretation. Under French Law, however, the governing factors would be the terms of the actual contract between the association and the player, which I imagine probably reference the tennis rules in some way, but none of us are likely to ever get a look at the actual text.

    1
  169. Christine says:

    @James Joyner: You just stepped in it again. Doubling down on this is not a good look. Shameful.

    1
  170. Kurtz says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Cool, thanks!Needless to say, I was glad you showed up. I deleted it but in one of my first posts in the thread, I initially typed, “where are you @HarvardLaw92?”

    I figured as much, I was looking around for some sort of explanation of how France regulates sport and it didn’t take long for me to conclude that it was a suicide mission.

    I could only get Google to point me to the 2020 Grand Slam Rulebook. It took several different search terms to finally get the 2021 text as the ITF doesn’t seem to make it easy to find on the website either.

    As a lay person, my general approach is, specificity trumps general. That’s why I staked a position in the middle. I couldn’t really completely defend the hard-line for either side based on what I read.

    The sections cited in the initial statement set off a bell in my head. When I looked at all of it in context, I confirmed my suspicions, but with a significant qualification.

    Is there a place I can wager on the media availability section undergoing serious revision for 2022?

  171. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kurtz:

    No worries (apologies for the delay in getting back to you). I was referring to the actual text of the contract. We’re more likely to play bridge with the Queen than we are to ever get a look at that one.