Home / Culture and Society / The Return of Mac Attack: John McEnroe Ignites Controversy as U.S. Open Begins

The Return of Mac Attack: John McEnroe Ignites Controversy as U.S. Open Begins

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Once again John McEnroe, the former combustible tennis player and now analyst for CBS, has had a problem with his mouth. Sometimes he has his foot in it; other times a tennis racket. While he has proven to be a savvy and insightful commentator during tennis tournaments, he also has the track record for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and now he has gone and done it again.

Mac is in trouble for saying that professional female tennis players are playing too much tennis. “I think that it’s asking too much of the women,” McEnroe said. “They shouldn’t be playing as many events as the men … The women have it better in tennis than in any other sport, thanks to Billie Jean King. But you shouldn’t push them to play more than they’re capable of.”

What is he talking about? The female tennis players cannot do what the males can do? Didn’t King prove that a fallacy when she beat Bobby Riggs all those years ago? What basis does he have for saying this?

Caroline Wozniacki is seeded No. 1 at the U.S. Open, in part because Serena Williams is injured and not playing, but also because she has played in enough tournaments during the year to up her ranking. I was surprised as anyone to see this, but that is the way of things.

Big Mac ought to know better, but he often shoots off his mouth and gets in trouble in the broadcast booth, just as he did on the court. He is politically incorrect to the point of embarrassment because he is making this a gender issue when it shouldn’t be. If it is an issue in tennis that players are playing too much tennis, it has nothing to do with gender. Period.

Are tennis players – male and female – playing too much tennis? How much is too much? Can we compare baseball to tennis. How about a 162-game schedule, plus spring training, and possibly playoffs? In football you have the preseason and 16-game schedule, and if you’re lucky enough to survive that without injury, maybe the playoffs.

Professional sports tend to be year round affairs at this point. Athletes are working out and honing their skills all the time. The best way to do that, I would say in any game, but in tennis especially, is to be out on that court against an opponent. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The same way you get to the U.S. Open: practice, practice, practice. This goes for both men and women, Big Mac.

Hopefully McEnroe will come out an apologize, calm down the women – and men – who are offended by his comments, and the U.S. Open will go on and be enjoyable, as it usually is, to watch, but you just never know with Big Mac. He may just say something worse in the next two weeks, so stay tuned.


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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. His latest books 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written well over 500 articles; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.
  • kurt brigliadora

    Way to go “Big Mac”…let it fly baby. Now here’s a guy with fire in his belly…John Mcenroe has always said what was on his mind , why should he stop now? He needs a little free press too, once in a while .. comon, you gotta luv the guy, I always did. Maybe he should play a match with a female, maybe thats why he said it!

  • Mac against Serena maybe? I love it, but what if he loses? I’d love to see the cartoon Bill Gallo would create for that one (like when Joe Frazier beat Ali and he drew one of Ali with his mouth shut up). Brilliant!

  • Stupid article

    What did King prove? Riggs was 55 – he had beaten the top female in the world months earlier – but he was 55! Stop dropping the King-Riggs match with due diligence.

  • You know what it proved? That a woman can beat a man at a sport. Mac is 51, and if Serena beat him it would be just the same thing. No more or less.

  • John Wilson

    Mac, I’m guessing, was just responding to the fact that there is no tennis season with a break, such as in other sports, and it is a real grind for players.

  • John, that is ostensibly true. Most of them play all year or maybe closer to 11 months. It is a grind – for both genders!

  • “The female tennis players cannot do what the males can do?”

    Maybe they can, but they don’t. Men have to win three sets, women two.

  • El Bicho, that is absolutely true, but no fault of the female players.

    The WTA should lobby to rectify that in the spirit of equity for both genders.

  • Actually, the men only play best of five sets in the Grand Slams, the Davis Cup and the finals of some larger tournaments.

  • Thanks for that clarity, Dr. D.

  • Doug

    Watch any of the U.S Open matches now airing and watch the incredible physical demands the game makes on the players. It’s brutal. But that doesn’t mean the women are less capable of enduring it over five sets than the men. That should be obvious to anyone by now. Too many studies have been done that show women are as physically capable as men. So for women not to play five sets is just an arbitrary determination. The question is then: Is winning a major any more significant for women than winning any other WTA event?
    The other question is: Why do the announcers and commentators of the tennis tournaments, e.g., Big Mac, Brad Gilbert, etal, have to talk non-stop, even when play is underway? They talk about everything and anything, either absolute nonsensical blather or meaningless analysis, both physical and psychological, of every move the players make. And what they say one moment is contradicted by what happens on the court the next. Personally, I just want to watch the match.