Editorial | Celebrities, athletes owe people nothing, especially when it comes to their mental health
According to British writer, television personality and professional provocateur Piers Morgan, “Naomi Osaka is a brilliant tennis player.
But “unfortunately,” Morgan added, “Ms. Osaka is also an arrogant spoiled brat whose fame and fortune seem to have inflated her ego to gigantic proportions.
You would think Osaka had committed a heinous crime or personally wronged Morgan, but this vitriol is rooted in something far more trivial – a refusal to give press conferences to protect his sanity.
Osaka, the No. 2 tennis player and one of the highest paid athletes in the world, announced his refusal to speak to the press at Roland Garros before the tournament. Media solicited players are required to hold press conferences at Grand Slam tournaments, but after defeat Patricia Maria Tig in the first round, she kept her promise and was fined $ 15,000. The next day she took of of the tournament in total.
While relations between Osaka and tennis officials still seem somewhat amicable, part of the larger reaction to this has been rooted in law and a serious lack of empathy. Current and former media figures including Morgan tennis players and the crusading Internet supporters who probably never picked up a tennis racket and who surely don’t have reporters knocking on their doors have all rang the doorbell to portray Osaka as ungrateful.
that of Osaka declaration, beyond just announcing his withdrawal, cited episodes of depression and lingering anxiety as reasons to jump the media circus in the first place. She should never have had to justify her media blackout. Sacrificing self-care and enduring mental illness isn’t part of Osaka’s job description – or at least it shouldn’t be.
This raises even broader questions about how we view athletes, celebrities and other public figures. These people are not one-dimensional entertainment machines, and they owe the audience nothing, not even a press conference.
Osaka is not the first athlete to challenge this tedious and stressful practice. Former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch once responded to a reporter’s question, “I’m just here not to get a fine. It was $ 50,000 fine for violating league media policy with this comment, and had to face an additional $ 50,000 for similar reasons in the same season.
In addition, public figures are free to speak and express their opinions on matters outside their profession. Take, for example, Osaka speaking out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and facing the backlash from fans in Japan, where she was born.
This resistance to political activism in sport is not isolated. A 2016 study found that one-third of 1,000 random respondents were less likely to watch an NFL game if players kneeled or somehow protested during the national anthem.
that of Osaka reply In other words, “I hate when random people say athletes shouldn’t get involved in politics and just entertain. “
Instead of fines, media warrants and legal charges, maybe it’s time to try a new approach to athletes and celebrities. After all, shouldn’t we be thankful that these people spend time in the public eye for our pleasure?