I never thought I'd be a person who was happy with a rain out during a Slam, but dammit, there's too much good tennis going on! How are you supposed to watch it, write about it and hopefully play a little bit yourself, along with other, more minor concerns, such as work and family obligations? So let's take a breath and catch up on what's happened in the last couple days, and look at what's on deck as long as there are no more monsoons in New York ... in another post.
But first, it's not often that tennis collides with Big World Issues, but it did this week when James Blake, a Harvard grad and a pretty decent tennis player in his time, was tackled by police while he was standing outside his hotel. There are a couple of things about this incident I would like to discuss:
1. "Whoa," you might have been thinking when you first heard this. "That other guy must have done something really bad to get straight-up tackled on the street." If James Blake had been the guy the police were looking for, he would have been guilty of buying shoes with a stolen credit card. Which is a crime, yes, but it doesn't sound like there's a weapon involved ... so why are you showing physical force on a guy just standing there? Well, having grown up in New York, I have a theory. If you grew up in New York when I did, there are names you know, such as Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo (look them up). The NYPD has a reputation for going a bit overboard and honestly, it's a good thing this didn't get worse. The record shows that it definitely could have.
2. I really like how everyone's crediting Blake for handling this situation so well. Gah -- the sarcasm font doesn't work very well on this keyboard. He said what he had to say. Some people are saying he didn't say enough. He really didn't have to say anything, but he did, and he really needed to. He was direct and honest and then he was done with it. But all of this "handling this with grace" or "not doing enough" talk is putting the onus on the victim, as though if he had gone on a Twitter rant about it, he wouldn't have been justified. James Blake handled this the way you would expect James Blake to handle this, and he didn't take leave of himself or his values to do that. Now, if this had happened to Lleyton Hewitt or Nick Kyrgios, well, let's just say you would have had a different pony show.
3. This wasn't necessarily a race thing for me because I think the police would have sadly done this to anybody. But how about this nonsense? I mean, really? Putting the other suspect's picture out there is just saying in effect, "Come on, look how much alike they are! You would have done it, too!" But here's the two-headed kicker: (a) they really don't look that much alike. Both are darker skinned and are smiling ... (b) the guy on the right is also not the right guy. Finally, though Blake got an apology from police commissioner William Bratton. But that even brings up another question:
4. Here's a scary thought: We heard about this one because Blake is kind of a big deal. How often does this happen? And are you OK with that happening to every SUSPECT in a crime? Do they get public apologies? Private apologies?