For those of you who aren’t closely following the daily ebbs and flows in the ongoing culture wars, I envy you. Unfortunately, I regularly find myself analyzing the tit for tat engagements that are defining our cultural landscape and politics.
If you haven’t seen it, tennis great John McEnroe has recently stirred controversy after an interview he did with NPR. In that interview, after bringing up Serena Williams, the reporter asked McEnroe why he insists on referring to Serena Williams as the best female tennis player in the world. (Let’s just ignore the part where this same journalist recalled McEnroe’s career by referring to him as the best male tennis player in the world, but anyway)
McEnroe says Williams is the “best female player ever — no question.” He’s then asked why he needs to qualify that statement with a gender. “Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.”
That particular sound bite of his interview has since gone on to the stratosphere of media outrage. Stephen Colbert immediately confronted McEnroe with “you can’t be serious” on his late show over the statement. A panel of CBS reporters tag teamed McEnroe to get him to apologize for saying something apparently so outrageous. Steadfastly, he has refused to apologize for his beliefs on the subject.