I was commenting on a post on Steve Bartholomew’s excellent Top Spin Tennis Blog when a new term popped into my head: Fedophile.
Perhaps this has already been coined, but if not, the moment seems ripe. Roger’s recent struggles have brought a new intensity to the Fed-worship, with many fans transforming from mere admirers of Fed’s game to defenders of his playing style, his girlfriend, his mental state, and his until-recently-unchallenged dominance over the sport, retaliating with angry emails to any criticisms, mild or brutal, that may be lobbed his way by the media or that rare breed – the Rafaphile. I don’t mean to demonize my fellow Fed-fans – I flirt with Fedophilia myself – I’d simply like to chronicle the movement as it gains mainstream attention.
(Click on the green highlighted text for links to all the evidence.)
The Sacred Text: Federer as Religious Experience by David Foster Wallace
This long form article, published in August, 2006 in the New York Times’ Play magazine is the touchstone text for all Fedophiles. It publically expresses what most fans had thought was their own, secret belief – that Roger’s game is not only the most perfect and beautiful form of tennis ever to be witnessed by man or woman, but that its perfection and beauty transcends sport itself to represent all that is good and right in the world. Wallace even uses footnotes, making his claims pleasingly scientific.
The Patron Saint: Miroslava “Mirka” Vavrinec
Could there be a better person for Fedophiles to emulate? Watch her face during a typical Federer game, as a beautific, placid smile plays upon her lips. A good point is acknowledged with a smattering of applause, a match point with a cheer, and a championship point with a leap and hugs all ’round. It is rare that you ever see even the faintest expression of doubt flicker across Mirka’s broad, pale face, and when it does, it quickly fades to either adulation or deep sympathy, depending on the outcome on court. Watching Mirka during Roger’s matches is a lesson in unconditional love – take notes, disciples.
The Mascot: Marion Bartoli
Maid Marion outed herself as Fedophile No. 1 when she admitted to breaking down in tears when Roger lost Wimbledon this year. Here are the best parts, courtesy of tennisreporters.net:
“It was really a heartbreaker for me,” she said. “I cried after it. I was so disappointed. I’m a Roger fan and when you are fan you want him to win. I thought he had the match in his hands and he let it slip. It was hard. Maybe it was harder for him, but it was hard for me as well. I was so stressed. Sometimes I couldn’t watch it, it was so much pressure.”
Was she happy at all for Nadal?
“No, not even a little bit.”
Bartoli keeps close tabs on Federer and said that she heard that he was really depressed after the match, but the next day, he was laughing and on vacation.
“I think he recovered better than me because I was down for three days afterward,” she said. “I think he’s going to win the Olympics and US Open.”
Bartoli has her own handmaidens! Read this entertaining report on Fed’s female fans. Girls, pass the Kleenex!
Rafael Nadal: Fedophiles may grant Rafa a grudging “congrats” here and there, but we all know that if Rafa had turned to futbol instead of tennis, Roger would have at least 3 Roland Garros titles by now and this year’s Wimbledon, making his Grand Slam total a Sampras-shattering 16. Note that Fedophiles rarely have sympathy for Roddick fans.
Novak Djokovic: The ultimate usurper, who unlike Rafa does not take his praise humbly and insist that Roger Federer will always be the best. He crowed after Roger’s loss at Roland Garros, saying, “Some things are changing. . .New names are coming, fresh talented players who believe more they can win against him and I am one of them. Suddenly he is worried a little bit.” It was a great day for Fedophiles when Novak went down to Safin in the second round of Wimbledon.
Much has also been made of Novak’s parents, especially his mom’s post Aussie Open proclamations that “the king is dead, long live the king”. Even Roger doesn’t like them, as evidenced in the above video, where he tells them to shut up while he beats their son in Monaco.
Mats Wilander: Questioned the size of Roger’s man parts.
The guy who wrote that piece in the Mirror: For shame!
Signs that you may be a Fedophile:
1. You mow down fellow tennis fans at the U.S. Open on a quest to score a ticket upgrade to Federer’s match.
2. You tie up the BBC’s phone lines complaining of an anti-Fed bias in the commentary booth.
3. You make your wife, who is 8-months pregnant, sit next to you on a hard plastic seat for over four hours while you watch Roger play.
“Honey,” Gwen’s saying to Gavin, “This shit really is bananas!”
4. You write a blog like this one!