NY Sports Day
Joe McDonald

McDonald: Umpires Need To Have Thicker Skins During Championship Matches

Neil Miller/NYSD

To put it simply, umpire Carlos Ramos did not give Naomi Osaka the US Open title. She was well on the way to doing it on her own. Serena Williams was down a set already and Osaka was playing very well. Even though Serena had momentum in the match doesn’t mean she would have won is there was no controversy with Ramos.

Even Serena admitted: “I don’t know. I feel like she was playing really well, but I feel like I really needed to do a lot ot change in that match to try to come out front, to try to come out on top.

“It’s hard to say because I always fight till the end and I always try to come back, no matter what. But she was also playing really, really well.”

However, Ramos should not have been so ticky-tack with the rules during a championship match. Let the players decide it on the court. It’s the way it’s done in almost all other sports. In hockey penalties are rare in Stanley Cup deciding games, the refs in the NBA get very conservative with foul calls in the finals and umpires tend to suck up the arguments during the World Series.

So in the US Open Final, Serena should not have been cited for coaching, racquet abuse or verbally abusing the umpire. There’s just too much at state. Every year the prize money goes up at the US Open and this year the winner gets $3.8 million with the loser getting $1.85 million, so you can see there’s a lot at state, even if the players won’t admit that.

And frankly if you listen to the exchange between Serena and Ramos, outside of calling him a “thief” for costing her a point and a game, she didn’t use profanity and it was nothing worse than what others in the past called umpires during the heat of the moment.

Now, Serena did bring up the sexism issue and she may have a point, since her outburst was no worse than one John McEnroe and Jimmy Conners had in the past.

Even Billie Jean King, who has known to take up a tennis cause or two, tweeted: “Coaching on every point should be allowed in tennis. It isn’t, and as a result, a player was penalized for the actions of her coach. This should not happen.”

And then she added: “When a woman is emotional, she’s ‘hysterical” and she’s penalized for it. When a man does the same, he’s ‘outspoken’ and there are no repercussions. Thank you, Serena Williams, for calling out this double standard.”

Is there a double standard? Maybe, but that’s another argument. More importantly, umpires in championship matches should have thicker skins. The world should not know who Carlos Ramos is, let alone have his name in so much copy today.

Bad calls do happen, but in this case it’s an umpire becoming too strict with the rules and ultimately tarnishing a US Open Final. It hurt the game. It diminishes Serena’s legacy and tarnishes Osaka’s great win.

And that’s a total shame.


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