Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A little piece of advice for Caroline Wozniacki

Dear Ms. Wozniacki,

We don't know each other, but as someone who has written about tennis, I feel I am perfectly within my rights to give you advice about your personal life. Even if it's none of my damn business.

I think it's time to say what everyone has been thinking for the last two years. C'mon, we all know what has happened to your game, why you have gone from No. 1 in the rankings in 2011 to No. 10 and without a title this season when you should be at the top of the tennis world.

It's the boyfriend. You spend too much time together. After every tennis tournament, you're off to some golf course to walk 18 holes instead of practicing. How selfish of Rory McIlroy to expect you to care about him and his career. As if he should matter.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Could gay accusation cost Kerry Rhodes NFL job?

The last time NFL free agent safety Kerry Rhodes was asked about his future, he told earlier in July that he was in the middle of negotiations and a decision on where he would play was coming soon.

"It's in the works," he said. "I can't talk about it in depth but there's a good four teams that I'm looking at. There are ongoing discussions. I'm trying to see which one will be the best fit for me. You will see me, though."

So far, we haven't.

Training camps opened throughout the NFL this week, with all signed veterans arriving by Saturday. Rhodes was not among them.

Maybe it's a negotiating ploy. Maybe Rhodes thinks he can wait until teams evaluate their rosters and possibly get a better deal later. Maybe at 30 he is hoping to skip the rigors of training camp and sign later in preseason.

Or is it possible an accusation that Rhodes is gay is costing him a chance to sign a lucrative contract, perhaps even preventing him from getting a job in the NFL?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The merry Jews of Nascar

Somebody with a sharp wit and way too much time on his hands created Go ahead, click on it. You'll laugh.

Yes, Nascar was born in the Bible Belt South. And racing and religion are inseparable. Each weekly driver's meeting ends with a prayer and every pre-race ceremony includes an invocation.

Goyishe sport, right? Oy! Would you believe there are enough Jews in Nascar to fill an Adam Sandler song? And then some.

No, they're not the ones driving the racecars, so you're not going to read about them. But here's the thing: You probably will read them. That's because we're all in the press box and media center. It's one of the oddities of Nascar:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The locker-room debate revisited. Again and again.

I pushed the door open as if I belonged and tried to ignore the sudden discomfort the first time I ever walked into a locker room as a professional sportswriter. I felt empowered and nervous. I certainly wasn't the first woman ever to go into the New Jersey Devils locker room. And to their credit, they didn't seem to notice or care that I was in there.

I still feel that discomfort every time I go into a locker room. But I'm forever grateful for the opportunity as one of the many reporters who benefited from the battles in the 1970s and '80s to allow female sportswriters access to locker rooms. That story was retold in "Let Them Wear Towels," this week's installment of ESPN's excellent "Nine for IX" series on women and sports. Watch a replay if you can.

Equality won all those years ago. And because of that, I've been fortunate to have a career as a sportswriter with very few locker-room incidents involving athletes or coaches. The overwhelming majority I've encountered over the years have been professional, and most of my issues have been about what I wrote, not who I am. Fair enough.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The ugliness of judging beauty, Wimbledon edition

As Andy Murray held the Wimbledon trophy aloft, the first British man to win the singles title in 77 years, I can't imagine there was a single person in all of England who looked at him and said at that moment, "Good thing he can play tennis because, you know, he's not exactly a looker."

Who would ever mar the greatest moment in a tennis player's career with a nonsensical, irrelevant comment like that? And on television, no less?

And yet, it happened.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Nascar, Kyle Petty and the future of sports coverage

Back in May, while covering the Nascar All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway for The New York Times, I conducted a little independent study. I made a list of the reporters who asked questions of five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson in a pair of press conferences held in the media center.

Of the 16 questions asked over the two weeks, 15 came from reporters or broadcasters who work for media outlets that have a financial relationship with Nascar, from the Motor Racing Network to Only one question came from a reporter who works for an independent television station.

That's meant mostly as an observation and not a criticism of Nascar, which decides who gets to ask questions of drivers during press conferences. I think it's partly a function of who is in the media center these days. And why they are there.