Forgive me for opting against becoming the 217th white man to offer a take on whether Serena Williams was wrong for feeling she was being treated unequally in the US Open final.

Allow me, instead, to propose a simple solution to avoid such brouhahas in the future. And by future I don't mean next year's Australian Open. But hopefully one day soon.

Robot umpires are the answer to many sports' problems, especially tennis. And I for one welcome our new technological overlords.

No more disputed line calls, no need for replay reviews that may heighten drama but also disrupt flow, no more temper tantrums.


Actually, scratch that last one, athletes will rage no matter what, only in this near-future it will be even more amusing because they will be raging at robots.

This, obviously, will be impossible in dynamic codes like football and rugby. Come to think, we would probably require a robot with the operating capacity of the HAL 9000 to cope with rugby's byzantine rulebook.

But for sports like tennis and baseball, the technology should be fully embraced as soon as it becomes available.

If for no other reason than preventing us all from a week full of white dudes mansplaining racism.


New Zealand might have made history this week - and perhaps the best part about it was hardly anyone noticed.

After Suzie Bates stepped down as White Ferns skipper and Amy Satterthwaite was appointed her successor, the national team now boasts something that is potentially a first in world sport: an openly gay captain.

Yet Satterthwaite's sexuality went unmentioned in stories about her assuming the captaincy, as it should have been given its lack of relevance to her new role.


But despite irrelevance there's no doubting Satterthwaite's elevation is a significant milestone off the field.

Even if the idea of an openly gay active athlete has gone from hypothetical to a common occurrence, LGBT people are still underrepresented in sport, and that's before adding an armband into the mix.

Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite. Photo / Photosport
Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite. Photo / Photosport

That's as true in this country as anywhere. While New Zealand continues to wait for an openly gay All Black, Satterthwaite - along with Olympians Robbie Manson and Linda Villumsen - is an invaluable public face for young people battling doubts about their sexuality being accepted.

The idea of sportspeople being role models is overrated but there's no denying that trio, among others, offers a positive example for boys and girls who don the whites every Saturday in summer.

Who better for precocious cricketers to look up to than one of the world's best, an all-rounder who in 2017 was named one day international player of the year?

If her abilities already made Satterthwaite a fine example of acceptance and, more importantly, inclusion, becoming captain of her nation only enhanced that status.

And another boost for acceptance was her sexuality featuring in no headlines upon the captaincy announcement, illustrating at worst total indifference to the groundbreaking feat.

By all accounts that's just the way Satterthwaite would have liked it. The 31-year-old last March married teammate Lea Tahuhu and earlier in the year the couple spoke publicly for the first time about their relationship, describing themselves as "pretty private people" but acknowledging the importance of their mere presence.

"If one person reads this, or hears about us, and it helps that one person that might be struggling a little bit, then I think that's a really great thing," Tahuhu told Stuff.

Satterthwaite's increased prominence will only aid in that benevolent aim. One day soon, openly gay athletes will be totally unremarkable, and trailblazers like the White Ferns' new captain will be a big reason why.


It's a good thing there are no openly gay Tall Blacks, otherwise the team might have been shit out of luck when looking for a training camp venue.

New Zealand's basketballers, who yesterday morning thumped Syria in a World Cup qualifier, prepared for the game with a week-long camp in Qatar, a choice made solely for financial reasons.

Consistently overlooked when High Performance Sport NZ awards funding largely to codes low in participation but high in medal prospects, the Tall Blacks accepted an offer from the Qatari federation to host their camp in exchange for a couple of practice games.

The decision was a no-brainer for Basketball New Zealand. A horrendous human rights record or not, the national team had to train somewhere, and as coach Paul Henare explained, they "just don't have the money to fund training camps at home".

Which is quite a dire admission, really, especially coming after Steven Adams wondered aloud in his autobiography how many talented brown kids had been overlooked at age-group level due to the expenses involved.

Basketball is the second-biggest sport in the world and, thanks to Adams, in this country it's only going to get bigger.

Perhaps it's time for our funding models to more adequately reflect that. Perhaps it's time to stop making Qatar look like the good guys.