Naomi Osaka’s run-in with the French Open is being watched and noticed by the whole sporting world. Teammates of Michael Jordan aren’t pleased.
Osaka’s problems with the French Open have now been as well-documented as any sportsperson’s problems with the establishment ever. She placed her mental health above all because as a singles athlete, she has the privilege to pull out of those commitments.
There are team players who don’t ever get this freedom of choosing not to speak to the media. These are players who have to commit to the process of listening to criticism about themselves. All day, every day. They get vilified by the public for anything they do or don’t.
Well, there was a time when the sportsperson needed the media to provide his side of the story to the public. In the days of social media, many feel that they are barely a superfluous identity.
Is it truly the case? How much has sports media distorted our perception of athletes and their excellence? Are they human to us anymore? Are they human to those who’re dependent on them for their livelihood, namely sports reporters? Etan Thomas asks these hard questions.
Etan Thomas refers to Michael Jordan while lambasting the French Open authorities
Thomas’s open letter to the French Open authorities can be found on the Guardian. In this piece, Thomas writes as follows:
“Many times the media – and, indeed, the wider public – don’t care about what a player is going through, they just want the story. I still remember when I first realized this.”
“I played alongside Jordan for two years with the Washington Wizards. As an NBA player, I was used to a certain level of game but the scrutiny Jordan was under was on a completely different level. Sport loves athletes with mental health issues – if they just shut up and play.”
“I remember when he was going through his divorce. One day, I came in early to get some treatment and saw MJ turned toward his locker, just sitting there, looking at nothing. He didn’t even hear me walk into the locker room.”
“After practice, one reporter asked if a divorce was inevitable, and he cut them right off, telling them it was none of their business. I turned to our teammate Christian Laettner and said: “Why would they ask him that?” Laettner looked at me and said: “Because they don’t look at us as humans.”