Tennys Sangren has garnered a lot of press over the past week. You’d think it was because he’s the first American in the Quarterfinals of the Australian Open since Andy Roddick nearly ten years ago. You would be wrong. He has been a trending topic because of his tweets. And if it hasn’t been drilled into your head enough, he’s an alt-right racists. Or is he?
Sandgren was ranked 97th coming into the 2018 Australian Open. He was a nobody. He’s America’s dream sports idol. He’s an underdog who has been plugging away at playing professional tennis for years. He played college tennis at the University of Tennessee. His mom was his coach. He still resides in the small town he grew up in. He had never won a Match in a Major tournament before 2018 and had dreams to make the main draw of Wimbledon. His magical Australian Open took him to the Quarterfinals by beating quality players like Stan Wawrinka (who has won multiple majors) and Dominic Thiem who is ranked 5th in the World.
But that has not been what the media attention has been about. The conversation has revolved around Sandgren’s tweets and political opinions. Just Google it, he’s a believer in the Alt-Right, he’s a racist. Who are the people he’s followed that are being defined as “alt-right”? The Drudge Report, Ben Shapiro and Paul Joseph Watson.
There is no way to honestly argue that Ben Shapiro is the alt-right. He was ranked the most important voice in the conservative movement by the National Review (A leading conservative website). Shapiro was the #1 target by the alt-right because he’s a practicing Jew. But according to the Washington Post his “liking” of Shapiro is cause for alt-right shaming.
What else has Sandgren done that is so racist? Well, he disagreed with James Blake, a former professional tennis player, who is black, about racism in the country. So is he a racists because he disagrees with someone of a different skin color? Or does James Blake have all the answers about race? Or is any conversation about race racist? It’s all getting confusing to figure out what is and is not racist anymore. It used to be believing one was better than another based solely off their skin color. By this definition, there is no evidence Sandgren is a racist. But if the definition for racism is fluid then… well I guess we can all be racist without even knowing it.
Another person he follows that is deemed alt-right is Paul Joseph Watson. In Watson’s twitter bio he says “Classical liberal. Anti-Alt Right. Anti-Alt Left”. So again, unless he’s a closet alt-righter that is actively trying to destroy the alt-right he is alt-right? Do we see how many giant leaps are being made about his tweets in an effort to paint him as something there is no proof that he is?
— 🍑Austrollian Open🍑 (@TrollandGarros) January 18, 2018
This whole controversy has been deeply unfair to Sandgren. Others have defined the alt-right for him, which is exactly what they want to do. Because the alt-Rrght has become anyone the main stream media doesn’t agree with. Ben Shaprio and the Drudge Report are conservative leaning yes, but alt-right? Ridiculous.
Serena Williams is being heralded as a goddess as she demands apologies from this man. First, who died and made Serena Williams queen? I mean seriously, she is not even in the event why are her responses even making news? Second, what is he supposed to apologize for? Disagreeing with her politically? Disagreeing with her on race? Voting for Trump? Being the last remaining American in the Australian Open?
@TennysSandgren I don’t need or want one. But there is a entire group of people that deserves an apology. I cant look at my daughter and tell her I sat back and was quiet. No! she will know how to stand up for herself and others- through my example. ✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/im2NhoMdN4
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) January 24, 2018
This controversy is deeply unfair to Sandgren and deeply unfair to anyone who have not followed the story, because without ample research you would have believe the worst. His whole person has been attacked for being what? a 2017 Republican.
Maybe he is an alt-righter, he deleted all of his tweets before I was able to look at them. But the evidence being brought forward to make the case is nonsense. He has responded in a way that also deserves every American’s respect. Instead of being silenced for his beliefs he has fought back against the behemoth of the media.
Here is how he responded after a difficult loss in the Quarters:
“You seek to put people in these little boxes so that you can order the world in your already assumed preconceived ideas. You strip away any individuality for the sake of demonizing by way of the collective,
“With a handful of follows and some likes on Twitter, my fate has been sealed in your minds. To write an edgy story, to create sensationalist coverage, there are few lengths you wouldn’t go to mark me as the man you desperately want me to be.
“You would rather perpetuate propaganda machines instead of researching information from a host of angles and perspectives while being willing to learn, change and grow. You dehumanize with pen and paper and turn neighbor against neighbor. In so doing, you may actually find you’re hastening the hell you wish to avoid, the hell we all wish to avoid.
“It is my firm belief that the highest value must be placed on the virtue of each individual, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. It’s my job to continue on this journey with the goal of becoming the best me I can and to embody the love Christ has for me, for I answer to Him and Him alone.
“I’ll take questions about the match, if you guys don’t mind. Thank you. If you have any questions about the match.”
In a world where we talk about bullying, Sandgren has been bullied for his beliefs. People have tried to shame him and silence him, but he has fought back as gracefully as a nobody for Tennessee could be expected to. There is no evidence, I have found, to pain him as a racists or a member of the alt-right.