Continuing on my quest to ignore politics – provoked in great part by the media’s recklessness on Russia – I’ve been reading about John McEnroe’s comments about Serena Williams,

Garcia-Navarro: We’re talking about male players but there is of course wonderful female players. Let’s talk about Serena Williams. You say she is the best female player in the world in the book.

McEnroe: Best female player ever — no question.

Garcia-Navarro: Some wouldn’t qualify it, some would say she’s the best player in the world. Why qualify it?

McEnroe: Oh! Uh, she’s not, you mean, the best player in the world, period?

Garcia-Navarro: Yeah, the best tennis player in the world. You know, why say female player?

McEnroe: Well because if she was in, if she played the men’s circuit she’d be like 700 in the world.

Garcia-Navarro: You think so?

McEnroe: Yeah. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Serena is an incredible player. I do, but the reality of what would happen would be I think something that perhaps it’d be a little higher, perhaps it’d be a little lower. And on a given day, Serena could beat some players. I believe because she’s so incredibly strong mentally that she could overcome some situations where players would choke ’cause she’s been in it so many times, so many situations at Wimbledon, The U.S. Open, etc. But if she had to just play the circuit — the men’s circuit — that would be an entirely different story.

I stopped playing tennis when I was very young since even back then my knee was complaining, which was about the same time when McEnroe was at his prime. I’ve never been a McEnroe fan (Rafa is more my type), but McEnroe is right.

For starters, men’s four grand slam – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open – are best-of-five sets matches, while women (and men in other tournaments) play best-of-three sets. When you consider that someone like Nadal is lasting for five sets while doing 110 mph serves consistently enough to win the French Open ten times, you can see McEnroe’s point.

We can spend all day chewing the fat over tennis, or over gender differences or whatnot, but here comes the best part: we’re the ones being played.

Brian John Thomas did some digging,

John McEnroe said something controversial about Serena Williams and women’s tennis. Oh shock.

Guess what people, it’s a stage managed outrage to sell some books. Both share the same book agent, obviously.

Sure enough,

It’s all a game after all.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.

I just finished reading the ESPN article (via Glenn) about the Bobby Riggs vs Billie Jean King match claiming the fix was in I, As a Sicilian have to say this:

If a Sicilian tells you that, after reading the ESPN piece in full, they’re still convinced the match between Riggs & King was on the up and up. You know they are lying through their teeth…

…about being Sicilian, reading the article, or both.

Update: I had to update an old post comparing the 50 year old transgender Gabrielle Ludwig to Riggs. To my knowledge Ludwig is not throwing games.

Oh and Neal Rauhauser updates not withstanding I can’t believe I posted on this subject before Stacy McCain.

I can’t think of a post I’m more looking forward to reading than whatever Robert Stacy McCain writes on this subject, the feminist anger in anticipation of his piece alone must be incredible, when he actually writes it heads will explore in feminist studies departments in colleges all over the world.

Update 2: For some reason these lines from the ending of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance comes to mind.

Update 3: Ed Morrissey is not Sicilian:

I’m pretty skeptical about this, and not just because the intense media spotlight on the game would have made it more difficult to pull off. Riggs was almost twice the age of King at the time of this match, 55 years old to her 29, and both were world-class athletes. Even today, when 55 is a lot younger than it used to be, a 29-year-old woman on a tennis court will have fresher legs and more stamina than a 55-year-old man, especially one who threw himself more into promotion than practice in the weeks leading up to the match.

That argument would hold more water if he hadn’t absolutely demolished Margaret Court in straight sets just four months before.

Update 4: Ed Answers on Twitter

In 1973 Billie Jean King seven years removed from being #1 woman in the world Defeated 55-year-old Bobby Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in a $100,000 winner take all match billed as the Battle of the Sexes.

King’s victory cemented her as a feminist icon for silencing Mr. Riggs, ranked #1 in 1941 in the world 32 years earlier and member of the Tennis Hall of Fame who said that at age 55 he could defeat women 25 years his junior.

What a lot of people forget is the four months before losing in to Miss King, Bobby Riggs took on another 30 years old former #1 ranked women, Margaret Court and demolished her in straight sets.

Today people make Riggs the butt of jokes conveniently forgetting his lopsided victory over Court (losing only 3 games) while playing competitively with King. The actual lesson of the exercise was this 55 year world champion with his best years decades behind him was able, on a national stage able to hold own against the very best women of the time both young enough to be his daughter managing a combined score of 22-21 in five sets.

For all the accolades Miss King received, No sane person would contend that at age 55 in 1998 she would have had a prayer against a 31-year-old Boris Becker or a 33-year-old Stefan Edberg. That’s not to imply she wasn’t a spectacular Tennis Champion, she was, it’s simply because at age 55 she simply could not have physically been able to compete with either of these men.

That’s simple biology…which brings us to Gabrielle Ludwig

In the days leading up to the game, people had plenty to say about 6-foot-6-inch, 220-pound Gabrielle Ludwig, who joined the Lady Saints as a mid-season walk-on and became, according to advocates, the first transsexual to play college hoops as both a man and a woman.

When I saw this story all I could think of was Riggs/King with a twist.

Gabrielle Ludwig like Riggs is 25 years the senior of the women on the basketball court, both teammates and opponents. but there are three huge differences that work in Gabrielle Ludwig’s favor that Bobby Riggs didn’t have going for him.

1. While Basketball like Tennis is a fast paced physically demanding game it has certain advantages in terms of stamina. The nature of the game allows Gabrielle Ludwig periods of rest and relief, particularly at half time. Bobby Riggs had to play through the match without such relief.

2. Bobby Riggs was #1 in the world in 1941, he took on Margaret Court #1 in the world in 1962 & Billie Jean King #1 in the world in 1966. All three are rightly in the Tennis hall of fame. While Riggs enjoyed the physical advantages of manhood, they were offset not only by age but by the experience and skill of two opponents prepared both physically and mentally to cope with the absolute best the world had to offer. Gabrielle Ludwig on the other hand, operations and hormones not withstanding not only has the muscle set of man and some coaching experience. These physical & mental tools are being deployed against 18 & 19 year old girls who are still learning the game of basketball at a college level.

3. Basketball is a sport where, Muggsy Bogues not withstanding, height is critical. The Avg height of players in women’s basketball is 5′ 8″ in the WNBA it is 6′ and the avg height of a center in the WNBA is 6′ 8″. Consider this information on an article on “Why there are so few dunks in the WNBA all emphasis mine

The average female college basketball player has a vertical leap of approximately 19 inches, compared with more than 28 inches for the average male player. Since you have to get your fingers about 6 inches above the rim to have a chance at dunking, a female player of average leaping ability would have to be around 6-foot-6 with a standing reach of 8-foot-11”—the approximate measurements for Michael Jordan. (His Airness reportedly had a 48-inch vertical leap.) Few female players are that tall, and none of those giants is an exceptional leaper.

Gabrielle Ludwig is 6′ 6″ age not withstanding that height advantage combined with a 220 pound frame in basketball makes a huge difference.

Mind you this is not against NCAA rules as the SunTimes says:

As someone living as a woman and taking female hormones since 2007, Ludwig was eligible to play in the NCAA. Transgender student athletes who have taken medication to suppress testosterone for a year may compete on women’s teams under a policy adopted last year.

But I do object to the following on non-basketball grounds

The California Community College Athletic Association had another hoop for Ludwig. Because its rules base gender on a student’s birth certificate, she would need a new one. Ludwig, who had sex reassignment surgery over the summer, petitioned a judge and obtained her papers on Nov. 30.

So now according to new official paperwork Gabrille Ludwig mother gave birth to a daughter 51 years ago, but what’s re-writing history when we have a meme to promote?

When it comes to the game a false birth certificate can’t hide the politically correct biological facts.

Advocates can cheer all they want but Gabrille Ludwig is able to compete in the NCAA college woman’s game, because hormones operations and the blessing of society not withstanding, Gabrille Ludwig is a man.

I do not doubt nor question Gabrielle Ludwig’s drive. At the age of 50 the effort play basketball at any level is considerable and commendable but let’s be blunt:

If a woman with the same prior experience attempted to make the team had attempted to make the team, the odds of success would be slim and none.

Furthermore if Gabrielle Ludwig had been born a woman and had gender reassignment surgery in 2007 the newly minted Gabe Ludwig would not be able to compete with the young women Gabrielle Ludwig plays with today, let alone make the men’s college team.

The only reason Gabrielle Ludwig’s efforts have been rewarded is because Gabrielle Ludwig is Bobby Riggs.

It’s a truth that everybody knows but in the culture of 2012, such things can’t be admitted in polite society, not when there is a liberal meme to be sold to a gullible public.

Update: I guess I owe Gabrielle Ludwig an apology for comparing him to Riggs. Weirdness not withstanding Gabrielle Ludwig isn’t throwing any games.