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Serena, Tennis, & Playing Fair

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

"All my life I've had to fight," she said through tears.

I'm not sure if any of you can relate to this, especially you dads. Men are often looked upon as an angry group of homo sapiens. I'm not sure why. Well I wasn't too sure until lately. Who do we talk to, and what do we talk about? Men often have no connection with their feelings. Researcher, Michael Kaufman says there is a triad of violence that exists among men. Men get violent against women.

Unfortunately that anger is often displayed against the women that love them or they love. Men get violent with other men, getting into fights, sometime killing each other. Men commit violence against themselves, either by committing acts they know will get them into trouble, or in fact inflicting pain that can end their lives. Yet some people still find a way to fight, contend, and win.

When I was growing up, I remember being told I had to be twice as good to be even, because I would rarely be judged by the content of my character. I was told if I wanted to succeed, education was the best route, and it was certainly something that couldn't be taken away from me. I was told that if I looked out for others of my color, that together we could make a difference. Have we? Has affirmative actions really happened in the hearts of others that we can forget we still have a lot to overcome? If we forget our roots, from whence cometh our help, then we are committing an act of violence that our children are destined to reckon with.

Several weeks ago, I talked at length about having a good male friend. I talked about the four mileposts of friendship. I recommended a book that all men should read. Today I'm talking about not forgetting that we have to look out for our children. We must not allow ourselves to forget. If we do, our children will hurt, and blame us for their pain. And in some regards, they will be right.

I'm not sure if any of you watched the French Open tennis tournament. What I saw was much different from the match I remember watching the summer of 75, when Arthur Ashe played Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon. On the French court, I saw a young naïve woman who forgot for a moment that she had to be twice as good. She forgot she had to be twice as tough. She failed to remember that things don't come easy, no matter how good you are.

Though Serena Williams played exceptionally, she was booed. Though Serena Williams asked for her first serve to be replayed when her opponent signaled "time," she was booed. Perhaps in view of her opponent's lying in an effort to win at all cost, Serena lost her composure, and lost her focus. Have we? We must remember, it ain't over, until it's over. Serena was overcome by the crowd's unexplainable hostility. It was not that she'd not seen it before, she thought society had risen above it. When we forget too soon, we are no longer ‘en garde.' And whether it's the French, the Democrats, or our parents who've convince us to not pay attention to what's going on around us, when we lower our guard, we get defeated.

As a man, a husband, a father, I've had to learn these things the hard way. Many times, I've attempted to take the easier wrong, rather than the harder right. I've gone into situations not fully prepared and hurt others, been hurt, or just made a fool. We've come too far. We cannot allow ourselves as men and fathers to stop making things better for our kids.

The end of this month, the tennis world turns toward England. Educate your kids about the Williams' sisters. Tell them what they have done to earn respect all over the world. Let them know they are fighters, not cheaters, and although the harder right might enable a few to win a few battles, it doesn't mean they win the war. Watch Wimbledon not because of what happened at the French Open, but because we are in the fight with Serena too. Happy Juneteenth to you too!

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