ONN – Naomi Osaka And Coco Gauff At US Open Give Moment We Need To Overcome Texas Shootings
The Naomi Osaka And Coco Gauff “Moment” is best understood in the context of my Saturday before it happened. The day started with me going to shop for my Mom, who I’m helping here in Georgia, and then was punctuated by the sad news of yet another mass shooting, this one in Texas, again.
Then, at the grocery store, I recognized a woman I thought I met at “Taste of Atlanta” a few years ago. And even though I was wrong, we had an incredible conversation. The only bug was the racial weirdness from some of the folks at the store who passed by. Some white men and women who you could see gave her extended looks. Maybe it was because she was quite attractive? My gut said that was only part of the reason. The other part was that they had that racist sickness – it’s a mental illness.
Still, that did not interrupt our talk, and to her credit, she was determined to ignore them and talk to me. A bright encounter and a new friend made.
So, I returned home with groceries and Mom. She had recorded the Naomi Osaka vs. Coco Gauff U.S. Open Match so I would see it. Mom told me twice, once when I called from the grocery store, that I had to watch it to the end – but she didn’t say why.
At home, there was the news of yet another mass shooting in Texas. We get this news daily. We should not be used to it, but we are, and that’s bad. That kind of news has hardened America. Something needed to be done.
So, I watched the match and Naomi Osaka wiping the court with the 15-year-old Gauff. At one point, Coco seemed to become that confused scared girl that you just want to help. It was at that point I personally felt sorry for her and the sheer weight of the event she was in. But then, after it was over, Naomi did something that quickly became the perfect, God-sent, counter-part to the negative events and people of the day. She not only hugged the crying Coco Gauff, but Naomi Osaka personally asked Gauff to join her in her interview with ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez. She did.
There was not a dry eye in sports. Well, all except The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
What Naomi Osaka did was remind all of us that we’re human. We can change the world with one simple gesture of kindness. And don’t think that social media picked it up was an accident. Sorry folks, that was God. That was the forces for good battling the forces of evil. Period. End of story.
The people transformed by Naomi Osaka let the world know it on Twitter. Male, female, black, white, and in between, as the Women’s Tennis Association tweeted, “We’re all crying.” So was I. It was an action we will forever thank Naomi Osaka for.
Well, all of us except Daniel Kaplan. For some reason that has nothing to do with God or good, he tweeted this:
“ESPN has Mary Joe Fernandez interview Coco Gauff. Her husband reps her. These are softball interviews, but would such a perceived conflict be tolerated with another sport. Long running storyline in tennis.”
That was nothing but plain, simple, inappropriate coldness to the ninth degree. What kind of person thinks it’s good to ask mean questions to an already crying 15-year-old? I am acquainted with Daniel – have been for years as we both cover sports. But that action by him was something I would have never believed he would do.
The message I sent to him was this:
“Hi Dan. I just happened to read your tweet on Naomi. Very disappointing. The reason you gave resonates with no one. Moreover, given the number of times Mary will be on TV, you could have cooled your jets and just emoted with the rest of us. I would remove it. You gain noting. You don’t own Twitter so no page views come your way. No ad revenue. But the bad feelings about your take can last way too long. You gotta be better than that.”
Dan’s not responded and I don’t expect him to. Given what had to be swirling around in his mind, I am certain I don’t want to read or hear his rationale for what he did. Scary is the idea that he would have one.
I don’t call myself a journalist, and that’s yet another reason why. Under the color of journalism, I’ve seen a lot of people do and say things that are mean, insensitive, and racist. It’s no wonder journalists are being let go. What some who call themselves journalists do has rendered the profession a failure in a social media world.
We need a media that’s not afraid to feel – that gets that we as a society need to see acts of good to balance out the evil “it bleeds, it leads” journalism that has caused so much social damage.
We’re producing people who look down at cell phones from the time their kids to the point when they become legal adults, then we release them, socially isolated, into a world of people who don’t know how to connect, but crave connection.
Naomi Osaka didn’t fear to connect, and we’re all better for it. I pray that Mr. Kaplan allows himself to be, too.
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