In 2008, Roger Federer lost at Wimbledon to Rafael Nadal on a breakpoint after nearly five hours of gameplay. During the 15th game of the final set, with Federer only two points away from winning his sixth crown, the Swiss tennis legend mis-hit a forehand shot into the net, giving Nadal his hard-fought victory.
As devastating as Federer’s hits could be, an unforced error during that game cost him the match, championship and eventually his No. 1 ranking.
An unforced error is when a player makes a mistake due to their own fault and not as a result of an opponent’s out-maneuvering. Losing this way is often the most bitter form of defeat, knowing that you could have done better.
When Chick-fil-a COO Tim Tassopoulos abruptly announced the company would no longer be donating to certain charities that espoused traditional, biblical views on marriage, it felt like a major unforced error.
Since July 2012, when Chick-fil-a CEO Dan Kathy’s statements supporting marriage sparked controversy, the fast-food chain has only grown, both in profits and support from their customers.
They were named Business Insider’s “chain of the year” in 2018 and ranked among the top three of all restaurants in the U.S. More than that, their chicken sandwich has transcended the culinary world into the culture at large, serving as an icon of quality, efficiency and integrity (see Kanye’s “Closed on Sunday”).
“Things are only getting better,” the headline read in Kate Taylor’s Business Insider piece, except for two caveats: maintaining product quality as the company expands and the fabricated controversy over management’s personal beliefs.
“The chain has continued to experience backlash because of its perceived stance on LGBTQ rights,” Taylor wrote.
Protestors and even city governments have done their best to shut down various franchises over the company’s alleged mistreatment of homosexuals. But Chick-fil-a has also seen a major out-pouring of support from their customers, which is arguably what led to the rise of the chain.
To my knowledge, no one at Chick-fil-a, including Cathy, has ever said anything negative about the so-called “LGBTQ community.” Cathy’s statements to Baptist Press were so anodyne and well in line with mainstream Christian orthodoxy that the backlash was bewildering.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit … We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles,” Cathy said.
Often in life, as in tennis, the one who wins is not the more talented, most-correct guy, but the one who lasts the longest. Conservatives, Republicans and even those happy fence sitters simply haven’t had the stamina to outlast the barrage or maintain motivation levels equal to the mob’s outrage.
In that regard, the best thing for Chick-fil-a to have done was to continue what they were doing; refuse to even play the game. The company was doing gangbuster business by ignoring the squabble and focusing on their ever-growing customer base. They were winning the game simply by not engaging. Now, they’ve spiked the ball into the net and tripped over their own shoelaces.
And who is happy about that? Surrender will never be enough for the mob. Genuflect and self-flagellate all you want; no quarter will be given.
GLAAD’s director of Campaigns and Rapid Response, Drew Anderson, said as much after learning of Chick-fil-a’s new stance: “Chick-Fil-A still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents.”
And those who supported the chain against controversy, organized special days of patronage and felt there was at least one solid company that wouldn’t kowtow to “wokeness” — AKA the actual customers — certainly aren’t happy about it.
It’s bad for society when dirty, blitzkrieg intimidation tactics are used to silence a private company. Television, movies and sports have all suffered in recent years from over-politicization and injection of social justice.
“Get woke, go broke” has become an all too common truism. Chick-fil-a may still turn a profit despite themselves — they’ve already tried to backtrack Tassopoulos’ statements — but they’ve lost their integrity.
Daniel Taylor is a staff writer for The Reporter. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.