Friday, June 29, 2012

Celebrity Friday: Gilles Simon Is An A**!

*sigh* #11 Seed (World #13Gilles Simon of France is making waves at Wimbledon this week by wading into the mostly settled dispute about equal prize money for men and women at the Grand Slam tournaments. The Frenchman, who was recently elected to a 2-year term on the ATP Players Council, told the press on Wednesday that he does not support equal prize money for women at the major tournaments:
Simon told reporters at Wimbledon in French that he thinks "men's tennis is ahead of women's tennis" and "men spend twice as long on court as women do at Grand Slams."
He also said men "provide a more attractive show" in their matches.
All four Grand Slam tournaments pay equal prize money to men and women, something Simon said he doesn't think "works in sports."
World #3 Roger Federer was asked about Simon's remarks and diplomatically replied:
"I hope it doesn't become a big issue during Wimbledon. It's obviously a debate that's out there ever since, I guess, the Slams have made equal prize money. There's nothing you can do, anyway, about it," Federer replied. 
"It's just a matter of who believes what, and then that is an endless debate. So whatever you believe," he continued.
One person who is not surprised that Simon would be unafraid to reveal himself as a sexist idiot is 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens, who when asked about Simon's remarks said:
"I don't care what he says about anything. He hit me with a ball the first time I was a ballkid. He hit me in the chest, because he lost a point and lost the set. He turned around and slammed the ball with his racket and hit me ... and I've never spoken to him since then."
Wimbledon was the last of the four major tournament to pay women and men equally back in 2007, a year after Roland Garros started doing it. The argument against equal pay, ostensibly, is that men play best-of-five sets while women play best-of-three sets at the grand slams. But, honestly, I question whether the grand slams could even schedule all the women's matches and men's matches in two weeks if they had a 128-person draw and 5-set matches for everyone. I think that the first week (maybe up to and including the fourth round) should be best-of-three for everyone and then everyone shift to best-of-five for the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Then there would be no question that men and women are getting paid equal money for an equal amount of time on court. Federer has won his first two best-of-five matches in little under 150 minutes while the 1st round best-of-three slugfest between Tamira Paszek and Caroline Wozniacki took 192 minutes and was probably the most exciting match of the tournament in the first 3 days of play.

I suspect the impetus for the call to not have equal pay for women is really a manifestation of the belief that men and women should not be equal, and is really a sexist impulse. Thus Simon's subjective remark that men provide a "more attractive show" than women. There's no way to empirically prove or disprove the truth value of this statement. I doubt there are many straight guys would agree that a 5-set match between Radek Stepanek and Florian Mayer would be "more attractive" than a 3-set match between Arantxa Rus and Ana Ivanovic.

What do you think? (Not whether Simon is an a**, that's a given, but how should tennis respond to the notion that men and women do not work equally at the slams). 

Happily, the day after Simon made his discriminatory remarks at Wimbledon, he was eliminated from the tournament by Xavier Malisse.

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