Naomi Osaka

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I find myself increasingly upset about this Naomi Osaka business.

Now, Your Humble Blogger doesn’t watch or care about tennis at all. If you asked me a month ago who Naomi Osaka was, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. If you asked me to name a professional tennis player not named Williams, I’m not sure I would have come up with one. I don’t know anything about Ms. Osaka as a tennis player, and I have no real idea what professional tennis is like.

But what seems to be clear is this: The institutions of professional tennis failed. The institutions of journalism failed.

As is outrageously common, when a person sought accommodation, the institutions responded by defending themselves and attacking the person. Rather than working with the person to find some reasonable accommodation—and as far as I can tell, the proposal to simply not do the pre- and post- game press conferences was already reasonable—the institutions defended their standard practices and traduced the character of the person asking. The person who needs accommodation withdrew. Access was denied.

This isn’t surprising, and it certainly isn’t the greatest outrage of our times, but over the last week or so it has got right up my nose. I’m not sure why. I don’t expect the French Open or the other institutions of professional tennis or of professional sports to be particularly wise or compassionate. I certainly don’t expect sports columnists or other sports journalists to be sensitive or compassionate.

I guess it’s because work in academia, have a spouse in academia and have a child currently in college—I see a whole variety of responses to requests for accommodation, and a whole variety of kinds of requests for accommodation and need for accommodation, and the tennis world is modeling all the wrong sorts of responses.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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