Editor's Blog

Life comes at you fast

“The culture has changed over the years. What might have been acceptable 10, 15 years ago is clearly not acceptable now.”

This was former defence secretary Michael Fallon’s explanation of why he chose to resign from the cabinet last week over allegations of sexual harassment.

And less than a week later, I was reminded of Fallon’s words by the furore that kicked off over the draw for the Next Gen ATP Finals draw in Milan (pictured).

In case you missed it, this was a draw for a tennis tournament in which female models decided which (male) players were in which groups by revealing letters hidden under their clothing.

One of the players, South Korea’s Hyeon Chung, was asked to pull off a female model's glove with his teeth, while Denis Shapovalov discovered he was in Group A when a model pulled up her dress to reveal the letter A on her right thigh.

Unsurprisingly, people were quick to spot that it was a car crash of sexism and objectification. Former world number 1 Amélie Mauresmo called the draw a “disgrace” and former Fed Cup captain Judy Murray labelled it “awful” – while social media went into meltdown as pictures and videos of the event went viral.

In the current climate of sexual harassment allegations, the draw came across as particularly tin-eared. It was hard to see how the event planner responsible for the draw had arrived at it, thought it was a good idea and gone through with it - and without anyone raising a voice of dissent.

In a statement, the ATP and tournament sponsor Red Bull said it had been a misguided attempt to draw on Milan’s fashion heritage.

They said: “The intention was to integrate Milan’s rich heritage as one of the fashion capitals of the world. However, our execution of the proceedings was in poor taste and unacceptable. We deeply regret this and will ensure that there is no repeat of anything like it in the future.”

Ironically, the official tagline for the tournament is “The future is now”, something the draw organisers and, indeed, Michael Fallon, have both found out to their cost in recent days. The creative types who designed the Next Gen ATP Finals draw will not, I suspect, be the last members of our industry to be caught out by the terrific speed at which the world is changing.

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