Sports don't build character, they reveal it. And a lot was revealed about the character of the President of the ATP Tour Player’s Council, Novak Djokovic, as well as local tennis hero Noah Rubin, this week.
While over 300 players joined an ATP zoom call to discuss this year's US Open, Djokovic was joining in a soccer game after his Adria tennis tour in Serbia, in which hundreds of unmasked fans packed the stadium and sweaty players hugged post-match.
Rubin, who has become the de facto spokesperson for economically-distressed professionals, was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. He said, "Don't put yourself in a situation where you are relied on...If you wanna look out for yourself, this sport is built for that. But then don't put yourself in a situation there others rely on you.
My favorite statement said by Noah, so perfectly succinct about Djokovic's disconnect, "Shut the F*** Up."
Leadership is earned, and so is respect.
Djokovic is a champion but no leader. He should resign as president of the player's council and let his racket do the talking from now on.
Noah Rubin has earned respect as a leader, a spokesperson and a champion of the sport.
Steven Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.