Sunday, April 21, 2013

Billie Jean is the Queen, and My Mother's Channeling of Madame La Violette

I finally dozed off, woke up at about ten, and knocked off another project  - the one for Sports Sociology. I used the transition of tennis from an amateur to a professional sport as my topic. The bullshit that went on back in the day was unreal. Major  tournaments such asWimbledon and the U. S. Nationnal Championships (now called the U. S. Open) were only available to amateur players.  Many "amateur" players weren't actually amateurs at all. They were being paid money secretly to show up to the major tournaments. The bigger name the player had, the more he or she was handed "under the table." A player's finish in the tournament had no outcome on the money a player received. Sometimes up-and-coming players were not given sufficient money even to travel to tournaments, so the game was heavily biased in favor of the established and the wealthy. This was particularly true with regard to women's tennis. Women who chose to reject this hypocrisy were unable to support themselves with the paltry prize money offered by the few professional tournaments available to them.  While the hypocrisy of "amateur" status 'under the table payment existed within the structure of men's tennis, and male professionals, too were banned from major tournaments,  the men's professional circuit was financed to the degree that a male could earn a living as a touring professional without playing the game of pretending to be "amateur" and accepting the unofficial payment.

Billie Jean King spearheaded a group of women, including herself,  Rosemary Casals, Francoise Durr, and Ann Haydon Jones, who obtained sponsorship for a tour and turned professional. Eventually major tournaments became "open," as in open to both professionals and amateurs. Soon the issue became the disparity between prize money offered to men and to women for either the same tournaments or comparable tournaments.

At the 1970 U.S. Open Tournament,  the women's prize money was to be one-eighth of what would be awarded to the men.  Several women threatened to boycott the u. S. Open. Gladys Heldman, founder and at-the-time publisher of World Tennis magazine offered instead to find a sponsor for a tour, beginning with the Family Circle Cup tournament, to be held a week before the U.S. Open in place of the usual preparatory tournament.  Nine women signed up for this tour, which was to be sponsored by Philip Morris.  Two Australian women who signed with the new preparatory tournament were banned by their national association. The United States Lawn Tennis Assosiation (then the USLTA, since then shortened to the USTA) president Jack Kramer threatened all nine women with sanctions, but instead formed his own rival tour.  Because Kramer's tour couldn't or wouldn't offer the prize money equal to that  offered by the Virginia Slims tour, sponsored by Philip Morris, depending upon how one views it, the USLTA women's tour either caved in or merged with the Virginia Slims Tour. The Virginia Slims Tour evolved to what is now know as The Women's Tennis Association Tour. Prize money on the WTA tour  is comparable to or equal to the money received by the men on their tour.

There was a major sideshow in a highly publicized televised match between Billie Jean King and senior men's tour professional Bobby Riggs, a self-proclaimed male chauvinist.  King Prevailed 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

Women who chose not to risk their careers and the sanctions that might have occurred also ultimately benefited from the risk-taking of the original nine Virginia Slims signers and a few others who joined the tour shortly thereafter without themselves taking any risks.This created many hard feelings, some of which persist to this day.

One player who did not prticipate in the original Virginia Slims Tour was Chris Evert. She was still a minor at the time of the USLTA/Virginia Slims rift, and had little choice but to abide by the decision of her parents. She is now probably Billlie Jean King's  staunchest and most vocal supporter and admirer, and was the first of the woman professionals to state publicly that the women who (while she was still playing) were earning prize money equal to the men owed it all to Billie Jean King. Eventually Martina Navratilova and others echoed her sentiments, but she was by far the first of the younger players to publicly commend King. In contrast, the Willliams sisters seem to offer very little in terms of words of appreciation or praise for Billie Jean; they're too busy praising themselves or each other.

It was an exciting time in women's sports. I wish I'd been alive to witness it.

I'm typing now on my pseudo-aunt's computer.My mom took my books and laptop away from me and sent me to my pseudoaunt's house. She told me pseudoaunt I can blog or othrwise use the internet ut that I may not do any work. Her "licensed clinical psychologist' persona is getting the better of her, and she's forgetting that she's my mother and not my therapist. Her concern is that by working so hard and completing all my assignments, I'm burying my feelings about the breakup with Jared, and that if I don't deal with the feelings now, they'll emerge at some point in the future, most likely in the form of an illness. It sounds like voodoo psychology to me. Perhaps she picked it up from listening to Madame LaViolette's testimony in the Jodi Arias trial. It sounds like something that quack could have come up with.  What does my mother want me to do?Sit around and cry all day? Would that be healthier? Sometimes I think the Mormons are onto something in their distrust of the professions of pschiatry and psychology.

Ironically, my dad can't help me in this situation because he is off playing in the finals of some club tennis tournament.  He would side with me, as his distate for madame laViolette is, if anything, even stronger than mine is. He may even have to change a reference he's made since I was born, and probably longer ago than that. While he admires her as a tennis player and human being, my dad doesn't think Billie Jean is particularly attractive. I say big deal; half the world isn't all that attractive. My dad isn't quite so willing to leave it alone. Anytime he sees a person he thinks is especially homely (and my dad isn't exactly Jesse Spencer's clone, by the way, so I'm not sure who he thinks he is to be critiquing the appearances of others), he says (not to the person, of course) that the person looks just like Billie Jean King. Now perhaps he'll change things up and say the homely people of the world look just like Madame La Violette.

So my psuedoaunt and I are entertaining ourselves by making fun of Jared. She probably shouldn'tbe doing that, as she's Jared's aunt by marriage, but I'm not going to repeat wha she said, so no harm has been done. She said if she makes it to church before Wednesday, when Jared will most likely receive his mission call, she'll light a candle and say a prayer that his mission is in Afghanistan. There isn't really an LDS mission in Afghanistan or in most war zones. She's joking. If Jared were to be somehow assigned to Afghanistan, pseudoaunt do everything in her power to keep him from going.

My mother thinks she has drastically altered the remainder of my weekend for the sake of my mental and/or physical health.Little does she know that all the work I have remaining is two chapters of my "Physics of Fractures" text to memorize, and I wasn't going to do it today, anyway, because we're going over one chapter in class on Tuesday, and the other on Thursday, and since they're a little unclear to me, it seems prudent to wait to hear what the professor has to say about them before committing the material to memory.

So there, Mommy Dearest!

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