The nice thing about being a blogger is that you can write about whatever you damn well please. Which means you can also ignore topics that annoy you to pieces. But it seems like this jacket discussion is not going away. It’s in Sports Illustrated, it’s on the Times U.K. , it’s in the forums. Roger Federer breaks the “sound barrier” at Wimbledon – taking Pete Sampras’ 14 and raising him 1, and everyone’s obsessing over a little bit of gold embroidery on the back of a warm up jacket.
(OMG! WHAT A F’ING A**HOLE!)
(Wow, those guys beat G.O.A.T. contender Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the NBA finals. Good for them!)
I like basketball but only follow the playoffs. I love the Celtics even though I’ve never been to Boston, was born in Chicago (yo, M.J.!) and live in Los Angeles. So last year, when I watched Boston win the championships (YES!) and then the Lakers skulk into the locker room while the confetti fell, I thought naively (as a tennis fan): “WAIT, doesn’t the other team have to stand there and smile and clap while the Celtics say ‘Geeze, great series, guys. Guess in the end someone had to win and we’re the lucky ones.’”
Maybe LeBron and I could do a podcast on the topic.
But tennis is an individual sport, which means that when we judge the winner, we judge the person. So the fact that Roger Federer, doing something no one has done before in the Open Era, actually seemed to brag about it in a pseudo-subtle way, was distasteful. How dare he rub Andy Roddick’s sweet face in the Magic Number 15?
Poor Roddick is a “one-slam-wonder”, an underdog who valiantly fought to the the outer limits of a fifth set. He refused to be broken until the bitter end, even though Roger served almost twice as many aces. And then Roger has the nerve to wear a “15″ on his jacket? How tacky! How modern! How NBA! Gosh darn it, it just tarnishes Roger’s legacy - doesn’t it? (Thanks Sue Barker!)
That’s what I love about tennis – we demand that our heroes are humble. Or at least we do now. Connors, McEnroe, Lendl, Pete and Andre weren’t all that humble. But now we expect our champions to go deep 1930′s. To admit faults and take bad line calls like Baron Von Cramm. It’s like the amateur era, plus millions of dollars in sponsorship money. God forbid someone caves and wears a jacket that some Nike lackey runs onto court at the very last minute (check the replay and you’ll see a guy in a kilt bringing Roger his “15″ vestments, or click here for Roger’s explanation.)
Random observation: Roddick, amidst his tears, managed to pull on his Rolex watch during the trophy ceremony. Is that crass commercialism or just a guy wanting to know the time?
Give me an f’ing break. (And lay off the players, too!)
But I’m no Fed apologist – I admit that the “15″ on the jacket made me cringe. Just like the vest and strangely prescient Michael Jackson jacket. That’s because I’m a tennis snob, like most Roger fans and like most Rafa fans – we like our heroes humble. Like Wimbledon, itself – still hanging tough with its logo-free green walls – we don’t want to admit that the Nikes of the world hold sway. We want our players to acknowledge the bad calls that went their way and give the other guy the benefit of the doubt. Let’s face it: Tennis is an anachronism to everyone but the players and the fans who love it beyond common sense.
Nike, it’s time to join the twentieth (not the 21st) century.