THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 /BY PETER BODO
TAGS: They Said What?
“Tennis is hugely popular in South America and Spain, Rafa [Nadal] is an international star, and yet, Spanish-speaking kids here are not choosing our sport. We should have huge numbers of Hispanic kids playing tennis in places like Miami, Southern California, New York and Chicago, and we don’t.”—Patrick McEnroe, head of USTA Player Development [and brother of John McEnroe], quoted by Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald.
I’m a little reluctant to call this a “problem,” because as much as I like tennis, I’m not sure the biggest issue facing Hispanics in the U.S. is a lack of homegrown ATP or WTA cannon fodder. But it is certainly interesting that, as McEnroe notes, even with tennis’ vast popularity in nations with large Hispanic populations and a deep pool of well-loved Hispanic players, few American Hispanics are on the USTA radar, no matter how far you go down the scale in sanctioned competitions.
McEnroe went on to speculate: “My guess is it’s an economic issue, and a cultural issue. We are doing much better with African-Americans and Asian-Americans. I see lots of those kids playing at our regional centers, but very few Hispanics.”
"They said what?"
I'm struck by how contemporary journalists feel the need to pretend to be shocked by people saying something non-boring. The rest of the piece goes on to discuss the question McEnroe brought up in a reasonable, if not very sophisticated, manner. It even gets around to mentioning Pancho Gonzales.
But, these days, you have to start by acting aghast. This is both prophylactic and clickbaity: It's controversial!
A friend said about a dozen years ago that noticing patterns about identity groups has become the New Pornography: people get to be shocked shocked and titillated simultaneously by somebody Noticing Stuff.
But it sure doesn't do much for the quality of thought.