Friday, February 16, 2018

Ryan Harrison Says ATP Clears Him of Racism Allegation, but Questions Linger -- UPDATE

The headline screams "ATP finds no evidence that Ryan Harrison directed racist remarks at Donald Young," yet somehow it still feels like there's more wiggle room in this statement from the ATP than there should be. As I've said before, Young can be exhausting and has a chip on his shoulder -- warranted or not. And Harrison is an arrogant hot-head who is always looking for a fight. But because so many white people don't seem to understand what racism is -- see also: MATTER, BLACK LIVES -- the ATP's use of the word "slur” really bothers me.

“The ATP conducted a full investigation into this week’s match at the New York Open between Ryan Harrison and Donald Young,” the tour said in a statement. “All available evidence was reviewed including match footage and interviews with match officials and other tournament personnel who were in close proximity of the players. Unfortunately, the audio recording of the match footage did not pick up verbal exchanges between the players. At this time no evidence has been found to support the allegation that Ryan Harrison used a racial slur during the match.”

The allegation is that Harrison said "That's what all you black people do." Is this a racist comment? Of course. But is it a racial slur? Perhaps not. But the distinction is definitely lost on Trump voters.

The star witness is Michael Bruno, a 26-year-old ballboy who was working the match. His personal statement makes it sound like he does understand -- or at least makes a point of saying nothing racial was said, period.
“I’m right there, and I didn’t hear it,” said Bruno, whom the [New York] Times describes as more of a fan of Young than Harrison. “No one heard a racial comment; no one on my side, no one on Young’s side. No racial terminology whatsoever."
So given that he said this, why did the ATP not repeat it this bluntly? Are we to assume that they are so woke that they consider "you black people" to be a slur -- and that there is no evidence that Harrison said that -- so that's why they said no evidence has been found to support the allegation that Harrison used a racial slur?

Call me guilty of (all but) convicting someone by association. But the charge seems hauntingly familiar to one leveled at Harrison's buddy Tennys Sandgren, who also didn't see how racist this tweet was. Does Bruno?

I've reached out to Bruno via Twitter and will update if I get a response.


Two things: I think the ATP should rephrase its statement to eliminate any reading between the lines (pun intended). And even if Bruno is correct that nothing specifically racial was said, I still question why Harrison felt he needed to confront Young about his cheering when virtually all of them do it. (Would Harrison go after John Isner or Sam Querrey if either of them behaved similarly?) As it stands, this appears to be a case of pox on both their houses. I'm still not convinced Harrison didn't say something like "you guys always do this" -- following Sandgren's critique of Serena -- or something more vague than "blacks" or an actual slur. (Why would Young make this up from whole cloth?) But I also don’t see how Young would think suggesting they “take it outside” was helpful in any way. The two of them have long needed to grow the f**k up. How sad that American tennis is now reflecting a very sad United States of America when it should be a way to escape from it all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

based upon the atp investigation, and testimony of the earwitness, i'll have to side with ryan "i might have thought it, but i didn't say it out loud" harrison on this one.

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