When You Love the Player, But Hate Their Politics

My favorite part of this year's Australian Open has been the ascendancy of Tennys Sandgren to the men's quarterfinals. Regular readers of this column know I'm a big fan of USA tennis, and Sandgren is a particularly interesting case. He wasn't named Tennys out of parental sports nuttiness, but after his great grandfather (think "Tennyson").

I liked him because he seemed nice in interviews and because he seems atypical for a tennis pro. He used to rock a fu manchu but nowadays looks more like Larry Bird. On the men's tennis forum I frequent, I changed my profile pic to Sandgren and changed my signature to a joke about his likeness to Bird.

So I was disheartened to learn that his twitter history seems to reveal that he's a pretty big right-winger.

He, as you can see from the linked article, more or less disputes this. He said it's "interesting" that the reporter suggested to him that he appears to be an alt-rightist and a pizza-gate-believer. When he suggested that the reporter ask him directly if he's an alt-righty and the reporter did so, he said he was not because it conflicts with his deeply Christian beliefs. It was also pointed out that his Twitter bio says that retweets do not equal endorsements.

So I took a look for myself, and found that allllll his retweets were conservative talking points, or conservative original tweets, like praising Brexit.

This casts doubt on the notion that he generally just finds right wing politics "interesting" rather than being an adherent.

So as a Colin Kaepernick-supporting, bedwetting liberal, I found myself in a quandary: can I continue supporting Sandgren considering his politics are so polar opposite of mine?

I pondered this and pondered this, and finally considered the fact that I have a few conservative friends. If they were making quarterfinal runs to the Australian Open, would I be cheering them on?

Hell yes I would. Case closed. I remain a Sandgren fan.

(gavel starts to come down)

... BUT WAIT! More data points come in. Though he said he just found the pizza-gate stuff "interesting," he very clearly believes it, saying "the collective evidence," which is "sickening," is "too much to ignore."

He's also backpedaling pretty furiously, deleting all those tweets I looked at yesterday, saying he needed a "cleaner start," but not disavowing or apologizing for anything he said in the past. If you're gonna say that your Twitter activity doesn't really mean anything, then it's kinda chicken to delete it all.

But the worst of it, to me, is that he said walking into a gay club made his eyes bleed, and his comments about Serena Williams' match behavior being "disgusting" and that "any day Serena loses is a god day."

The former comment is certainly homophobic and the latter comments indicate antipathy for Williams possibly rooted in racism, but even if you want to debate me on my interpretations of those comments, they are nonetheless mean and rude. And that is what makes Sandgren different — and worse — than my conservative friends. Saying that the visual landscape of a gay club makes your eyes bleed are the words of an ass, and that's true no matter how you feel about politically or religiously about homosexuality.

So to hell with you, Tennys Sandgren. Congratulations on officially being the one American player I will not root for.

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