Friday, August 8, 2014

She Said What She Meant & She Meant What She Said

by Savannah

I apologize to the late Dr. Seuss for paraphrasing one of the most famous lines he ever wrote but unlike Horton the Elephant who kept his promise the CEO of the WTA got caught out by fans of women's tennis and anyone who has a passing knowledge of the English language, written and spoken.

Ms Allaster gave an interview in Montréal about women's tennis. Well it was allegedly about women's tennis. It was mostly about her latest obsession but that's not where the controversy comes in.

 photo ff61db63-df5d-48b8-bd05-134d0b295a7d_zps56610801.jpg
photo via Amanda Rykoff espnW

It had already been widely reported that the PR stunt known as "Genie's Army" was flying from Australia to Montréal to cheer on their favorite. I'm not breaking any news here about them being a PR stunt. That's been widely reported too. So what was the controversy? In case you've been on vacation or only pay attention to what's going on when the US Open comes around here is the transcript provided by ASAPsports , an organization that makes its living providing accurate transcripts of press conferences.


STACEY ALLASTER: Bienvenue. It's always incredibly special for me to return home to the Coupe Rogers, to Tennis Canada. I must say as a Canadian, this is a dream come true, to have Canadian tennis and to have such ambassadors like Milos, Vasek, and Eugenie Bouchard at the top of the game.
To see the passion and the energy, this event is going to break a record. It's the largest single week women's event on the WTA Tour. It's phenomenal what they've accomplished here. It really is special for me to be home.

Q. You're already aware it's going to be a record broken?
STACEY ALLASTER: Yeah. Eugene and the entire Tennis Canada team do a fantastic job at presale. The tickets for 2005 Coupe Rogers are on sale.
When I was at Tennis Canada, we were doing about 25% to 30% of next year's sales during the event. Hopefully with the success of this year's Coupe Rogers, both in Toronto and Montréal, it will even go even further.

Q. How much do you think Eugenie has made a difference in tennis in Canada?
STACEY ALLASTER: Massive. You have to look at the TV ratings. Three Grand Slam semifinals. I'm inundated during the French, Wimbledon. I could feel the buzz from afar. Then I had all my family members saying, How cool is it having Eugenie Bouchard on the WTA?

Q. She's mature for her age, a great ambassador.
STACEY ALLASTER: She's a very mature, very confident, smart young woman. When we think of the world that we live in ‑ the sports/entertainment world ‑ there's a lot of pressure, a lot of media attention. To be a star, it's not just about her on‑court performance, it's how she's handling herself off‑court.
What I love the most about Genie is she understands at the end of the day is that we're here for the fans. She really engages with the fans. We just have to look that the Genie's Army has flown here from Australia to support her here at home in Montréal. They'll do the same if she makes it to the WTA Finals in Singapore.


Q. There have been some players who have been popular. But this is a bit of a phenomenon.
STACEY ALLASTER: I think the Australian Open is one of the funnest slams. We can see that with the Genie's Army here. But they're here. If Genie makes it to Singapore, we want to bring the Genie's Army there.
This notion of fan clubs I think is really a good dimension to add to our sport. It's an individual sport. We don't have teams. But you can almost create your teams within it.
As for Singapore, we're going to go to eight different schools or clubs and we're going to have a fan team associated with each of the eight athletes who qualify. That makes for great engagement in the stands, good ambience, and us making that close connection with the local community and the local fans.

If you want to read the newspaper report please Click Here

There was no need for a follow up question for clarification. Allaster said not once, but twice, that "Genie's Army" will be in Singapore and that the WTA would be involved in bringing them there. What else does "...we want to bring the Genie's Army there" mean?

This story was half way around the world with fan anger running along with it before the WTA got itself together to make a response.

WTA @WTA · Aug 6
On flying Genie's Army - it's nonsense & not what was said. Stacey said WTA wants fans to travel. She never said we're paying/sending them.

Just my humble opinion but the denial, to be real, should've been longer. It should've gone on to say that the WTA doesn't favor one player over all the others, that it represents all women who play the sport of tennis in singles and doubles, regardless of land of origin. It should've gone on to reaffirm the principles of the WTA, the one Billie Jean King helped to form. Instead we get this half assed sentence. It's hard not to believe that the WTA had every intention of flying these kids, sports marketing majors in Australia as I understand it, to Singapore. Once the cat was out of the bag they had to deny it no matter how weakly.

I think that the heads of the WTA and ATP have become so used to weak press coverage that repeats whatever meme it wants to put out there that they've forgotten how to do a real interview where they have to parse their words so that fans, and players, don't get the wrong idea. Apologists have continued to say that Allaster didn't mean what she said but if she didn't mean it why did she say it? Why does the CEO of the WTA come across as a besotted fangirl over this one player? This is what you get when you're not used to real reporting.

If you haven't done it yet please read the entire transcript. It will help you understand why there are calls for Allaster's resignation despite the fact that her contract has been extended to 2017. We all have our favorites, that can't be helped but it's unseemly for the person representing a sport to publicly lose all sense of perspective and gear the entire sport towards one player.

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