THE BLOG

Tennis Channel Pulls Plug on Dubai, So Should the Players.

This is getting interesting.

At the last minute, despite knowing for some time that Shahar Peer was scheduled to play in the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, the United Arab Emirates, refused to grant the Israeli tennis player a visa.

What was the response of Larry Scott, the chairman and chief executive of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour?

"A response of canceling the tournament was immediately discussed, but Peer and her family called for caution. 'They didn't want all the players to be harmed because of one,' Scott said. 'We talked to our players and told them that something terrible has happened here, but every single one would be punished if we were to cancel.'"

Wow. Way to abdicate your leadership Larry by first, putting the onus on the poor Peer family and second, making a lame offer of cancellation to your players that they definitely could refuse.

After making sure nobody, especially the WTA lost any money, Chairman Scott's balls grew really, really big.

"I made it clear to them that if Shahar were not allowed to play, they would run the risk of losing their tournament [next year]," Scott said.

Oooooooooh!

The Tennis Channel had no such moral quandaries. The network announced unequivocally that is will not televise the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships this week.

"This is an easy decision to come by, based on what is right and wrong," Ken Solomon, the chairman and chief executive of the network, said Monday from Utah.

Solomon explained his simple rationale:

"Sports are about merit, absent of background, class, race, creed, color or religion. They are simply about talent. This is a classic case, not about what country did what to another country. If the state of Israel were barring a citizen of an Arab nation, we would have made the same decision."

The tournament is scheduled to go on. It should not. The only thing that can stop it is the players. Venus Williams spoke publicly as soon as she heard that Peer was denied her visa.

"All the players support Shahar," Williams said. "We are all athletes, and we stand for tennis."

They should all stand up together, now, and walk out of Dubai. Time to put the money where the mouth is, sisters.

Pundits love to complain these days that there are no more athletes with social conscience -- no more Arthur Ashes, Muhammad Alis or Billie Jean Kings. This can be Venus Williams' social conscience moment. Or the moment could come and go. It's up to you, Venus.