In sports, sexism knows no bounds

Rafael Nadal, seen here at his beloved French Open earlier this year.  Photograph by François Goglins

Rafael Nadal, seen here at his beloved French Open earlier this year.  Photograph by François Goglins

Boy, no sooner had Andy Murray bombed out against Roger Federer in the disastrous ATP World Tour Finals and Mirka Federer kicked up a firestorm by calling Stan Wawrinka  a “crybaby” as he played her husband, than the misogynists were out in force.

First came the suggestions that Andy should quit coach Amélie Mauresmo for a male coach who would be more compatible.

That was mild compared to the epithets hurled at Mirka, who was called everything from a cow to the pants in the family to Lady Macbeth to, well, rhymes with “rich.”

I don’t believe in heckling or booing people as it’s a reflection on me. But there is equally no reason to call her a shrew.

Then came word from Rafael Nadal, who was critical of Spanish Davis Cup team captain Gala León for allegedly fanning the flames after Rafa coach Uncle Toni suggested that the team needed a male captain.

For years, men have coached, captained, trained, shepherded and generally led women. And for years, women have borne men’s verbal and physical abuse. (The New York Times is running a series of articles about abusive former NFL players and their ex-wives, who took what was dished out and kept their mouths shut so as not to upset the team dynamic.)

But when the Gucci loafer is on the other foot, all hell breaks loose.

Look, I’m not in favor of women visiting the sins of men on them. But I see no reason why women shouldn’t take on traditionally male roles in this the 21st century if that’s what they want.

Apparently, however, we’re still stuck in the 19th century, with male posters on sports websites complaining about athletes’ wives and girlfriends being gold-diggers.

What if these athletes had to pay someone to have and care for their children, manage their finances and households, represent them at events and bolster their bruised bodies and egos at the end of the day?

Who’s taking care of the former NFL players suffering from early onset dementia? Certainly not the Neaderthals in the blogosphere.

Tennis may be a less physically brutal game than football. But when it comes to sexism, it’s proving sadly that it is no different.