July 2008 Ethics Dunces

Andrea Jaeger

You have to have been a real tennis junkie in the 1980s to remember Andrea Jaeger, one of several short-lived pro tennis prodigies who, like Tracy Austin, Anna Kournikova and Jennifer Capriati, flamed out before they could become the next Chris Evert. Jaeger disappeared faster than most, the victim of teenaged angst, an over-bearing father and injuries. Now she’s a nun, and just to prove that nuns can be ethically out-to-lunch too (if you didn’t already know that), she gave an interview recently admitting that she intentionally lost the 1983 Wimbledon final to Martina Navratilova.

And thinks she did the right thing by doing so!

Jaeger explained that she got into an argument with her father the day before the final (over potato chips. Don’t ask…) and ran out of the home they were renting; she was just 18 then. When she went next door to the flat where Navratilova was staying in order to call a taxi, Navratalova didn’t answer the bell.

So, Jaeger says, she “kept pounding on the door and ringing the bell until Martina's trainer, Nancy Lieberman, opened the door and took me to the kitchen. Martina was sitting in the living room. She glanced round at me briefly with a look on her face to say that I'd interrupted her preparation for the final. She stayed seated and didn't look at me again.” Flooded with guilt because she felt she had disrupted her opponent’s preparation for the match, Jaeger said she decided to “make it right” by losing her match intentionally.

"During the match I missed balls on purpose. I hit right to Martina and when I was getting whipped in the first set 6-0, I tried to look upset about it," said Jaeger. She lost 6-0, 6-3. Today, Sister Andrea says she is content that she did the right thing.

What an idiot. Or rather, what an Ethics Dunce. Listen up, Andrea:

  • First, throwing the match perpetrated a fraud on the spectators, the TV viewers, the tournament sponsors, and the sport itself, just so you could feel better about yourself. That was not only wrong, it was spectacularly wrong.
  • Your performance, including pretending to look upset, was a lie. Lies are wrong, Sister. Read your Bible.
  • Losing on purpose was both unfair and disrespectful to Navratalova, who, by the way, would have probably beaten you anyway, since she was one of the two or three greatest players of all time. You robbed her of that opportunity for entirely selfish reasons, using ethics logic so flawed that it is laughable.
  • Worst of all, you decide now to cast a shadow over her championship that year by announcing that the match was fixed! And you did this all for Martina, did you? Now, among her nine Wimbledon singles titles, this one, Navratilova’s third, will always be tainted. Good job “making things right.”

What you should have done, if you were so sure that your teenage crisis had decisively disrupted your opponent’s preparation, was to default the match, and be honest and upfront about why. Better still, you could have asked Martina what she thought was fair, to which I suspect she would have answered, “Don’t worry, kid. I can beat you without ideal preparation. Worry about your own game. See you center court. Bring a hanky.”

Instead, you disgraced yourself, betrayed your fans, lied to the world, and diminished her triumph.


I guess they don’t make nuns like they used to.




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