Google Down the Line!: I submit question, Jon Wertheim answers - it's like magic!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I submit question, Jon Wertheim answers - it's like magic!

I wrote a post recently about the Serbia Open, which is partially owned by the Djokovic clan, and wondered aloud what, if any, conflicts of interest may be involved.

Well, my thoughts were heard and answered! Actually, I sent in the question to Jon Wertheim's mailbag over at Sports Illustrated since I figured he (and possibly their crack research team) could shed some light on the situation and it's featured in this week's edition. Check it out:

The Djokovic clan and some private investors recently bought the Amersfoort tourney and are transforming it into the newly-named Serbia Open, which debuts as an ATP 250 event this May. It's mentioned on his website he will be taking part in the tourney. A few readers (and me) were wondering if there's any precedent for this situation, e.g. an active baller buys into a tourney and then enters the draw? And wouldn't this setup be a conflict of interest for the tourney officials?
-- Rich, Brooklyn, N.Y.

• It's a huge conflict of interest, of course. (How would you like to be working as a line judge when Djokovic plays!) While I can't recall anything quite as flagrant as an active player's family owning a sanctioned tournament, conflict of interest is the coin of the realm in tennis. How different is this from a management group owning a tournament and also having players in the field under contact? (Gee, think IMG clients might get preferable treatment and first dibs at wild cards at IMG-owned events?) How different is this from broadcasters commentating on matches on which they have a financial stake in the outcome? How different is this from handing out appearance fees -- an inherent acknowledgment that some players are worth more to the tournament than others?

Taking a more charitable view here: tennis is obviously hot in Serbia right now and it only makes sense to penetrate that market. In addition to seizing the initiative and ponying up the cash, the Djokovic family can deliver the top draw but put him through his promotional paces. ("But I already went to a sponsor party yesterday!" "Shut up and press the flesh, son.") It's not an ideal situation, but you could argue the greater good is being served here.

True indeed Jon - tons of different hands diving into all kinds of cookie jars in this sport and probably many others too. And, yes, those Djokos will no doubt be put through the horse + pony PR show.

Smile for your cash boys!

(image via


  1. Rich - Nice going there! As much as I try to play the devil's advocate, I still don't see how this is going to work. The linemen or the rest of the staff won't be able to do their utmost best in fear of not being invited again the following year.

    I think Djok should play nice to the "hot" top ballers and invite them to participate while he cheers on the stands. He can seduce them with appearance fees and that should do the job.


  2. Exactly - I think he was basically saying the same thing: it's def a conflict of interest and there isn't a precedent for this particular situation but conflicts already exist in tennis. It seems the jury's still out on this one and we'll take a wait and see approach.

    I think it would be awkward to play against Nole there, especially if he gets some questionable calls in his favor. Let's hope there's instant replay on the main court and they could be TROUBLE.

  3. Do you see Rog or Andy Roddick playing there? Nole seems to know how to rub fellow players the wrong way.


  4. Awesome Rich, love The Mailbag with JW; it used to be my #1 tennis site 'til I found DTL! :)

    Ethics related issue: I was surfing around the ATP website and noticed their awards and nominee list (V-F-RAFA ;). Anyways, can anyone explain to me how, in the name of all that is sane, Rafa was not nominated for the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award, but Roger was???

    Are they joking with that??? I admire Roger, but RAFA is BELOVED by all (one of the great differences between them), and RAFA is the epitome of sportsmanship!!! I want to scream, throw something, etc., but I realize that won't get the one-and-only possible true winner nominated :(


  5. Tin: I was FLABERGASTED that Rafa was not up for that sportsmanship award as well!! He was totally snubbed. Isn't Nieminen up for it or something??! Just really weird picks, plus leaving out Rafa... one word: WHATEVER!

  6. The linesmen will be the friends and neighbors of the Djoko family!

  7. I think the players should boycott the tournament...

  8. Of course, there is no conflict of interest anywhere in sport. Is it not conflict of interest when a coutry gives THEIR player a privilaged spot - timewise and stidiumwise?
    Or, was it not conflict of interest when Phelps was sposnsored by the official time tracker of the 2008 Olympics.
    Or when most of the journalistsare from the rich countries and tout their own faves (thus from THEIR countries) and raise them to high heaven until half the other players (from poorer countries) have already lost the matchg before they even played against the high and mighty Williamses?

    Yep, right, Djokovic invented it.


    What an idiotic-cum-hypocritical blog this is.

  9. anon: wow - someone's BITTER. is that you Nole?

  10. Wow, someone is so full of himself to think that Nole would even read this crap.
    Yeah, right, keep believing.
    Believe me there are other reasons than bitterness to think this blahg is a load of crap.

  11. OMG Gordana - you thought I actually meant to ask if Nole was really reading this post? Now I know the problem - you have no sense of humor! Thanks for clearing that up.

  12. Wait, that was an attempt at being humorous?
    You got me there.

  13. Apparently so - and we can all see that.

  14. um, last i heard, this is a clay tournament, so questionable line calls are pretty unlikely.

    p.s. fail for sense of humour. cnote does it better!

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. anon: huh? wow, you're sweet. i'm sure she'd appreciate the compliment.

  17. Rich - Don't sweat it. I got the sense of humor. This is your blog. You can do as you please.

    Keep up the good work!!!


  18. LOL, well this IS hilarious - it's your blog, therefore everything you write is true AND funny.

    Wow :)

    Like blahgger like followers.


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