The ATP tour and Saudi Arabia agree to another round of woke pandering

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We need a more menacing term than sports washing because it’s not working. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the ATP tour agreed to a five-year sponsorship Wednesday, with courtside ads slated for the season-ending ATP Finals, Indian Wells (of course), Miami, Madrid, and Beijing.

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This comes during the same week that LIV Tour golfer Jon Rahm said of Saudi blood money, “Sounds great to me.” Kevin De Bruyne and Mohammad Salah, rockstars of the English Premier League’s two most successful clubs over the past five years — Man City and Liverpool — are allegedly in the sights of Saudi soccer teams. It seems like a formality that they’ll take the money because City and LFC ownership can’t spend that kind of cash on players at the tail end of their primes.

It doesn’t matter that a bevy of Saudi soccer talent has either left the desert already, or is in hot water over junk-related celebrations, everybody seems to be coming around.

Well I’m not, Doug.

While the partnership with the ATP has long been foreshadowed, as Rafael Nadal signed on to be the ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation in January, and Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and four other players agreed to participate in an exhibition in Riyadh in October, the news is no less disheartening. There are even rumors that the WTA will follow suit, and partner with a country that still has archaic laws on women and LGBTQ rights regardless of how progressive the reading material claims to be.

That’s why there needs to be a more shameful term for sportswashing. “Sportswashing” is semi-confusing because it sounds made up, and is derived from whitewashing. White people hate any term that makes them feel guilty about racism, so alluding to one elicits a reaction like someone blew a woke dog whistle.

If the human race wasn’t in a sprint to see who can sell out the fastest (looking at you, influencers), I would suggest “sellout,” but pop culture glorifies rich people, and there’s now no shortage of already rich people grabbing bags of dirty money when offered. “Blood money” isn’t an exaggeration, though it sure sounds like it, and apparently the lone group concerned about the dismemberment of a journalist are journalists, so bringing up Jamal Khashoggi’s name is useless.

Maybe “sports profiteering” or “image laundering.” There has to be a way to make people shudder when they hear “PIF” — a symbol, like the Bat Signal, that strikes fear into the hearts of shameless capitalists everywhere. “Sports cleansing?” Nah, people who do cleanses love informing you that they’re on a cleanse, and need to be close to a toilet.

Perhaps it’s as simple as starting a rumor that the Saudis are going “woke,” and sportswashing is an attempt to appease the left. Being canceled is a rite of passage for many a conservative these days, and by that logic, anyone who seeks to eschew their true, problematic and authentic selves is somehow less than.

Does the right not see what’s happening here? The Saudis are trying to placate women and the LGBTQ community. Didn’t they get the memo? All marginalized communities must be gas-lit, not pandered to, in perpetuity.

I got it. How about “woke pandering?” As in, the PIF and ATP tour agreed to another round of woke pandering this week, as the Saudis partnered with the tennis organization to further conceal how they truly feel about women and members of the LGBTQ community.

In 2024, it doesn’t get much more unsettling than trying to be woke. So, what, now Marvel is going to give every ethnicity a superhero? Thanks, Obama.

Note to Saudi Arabia: It’s OK to say the sexist and homophobic parts out loud.

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