Your Bias Has You By the Ass

We all know that sports create pretty rabid fan bases.  American football and the original futbol come to mind.  Fans are out of their minds and seem in many cases to froth and drool to the point of pure madness that can, in the most unfortunate cases, result in violence, which really, ironically, concerns matters not the field.

I have been blogging for years (off and on) and recently started focusing my blogging energies on tennis, mainly the professional men’s side of the sport.  I have really enjoyed this turn of events; I am so grateful that some readers have appreciated the work and have even contributed to the discussion.  Finding even a sliver of this community has been very satisfying, and I hope to establish even more of a community, participate more in other discussions that are literally all over the web.  Great to see some very genuine love and insight from the sport’s international spectatorship.  Great to meet people with the same kind of passion that you’ve had almost all of your life.

Tennis has been a love of mine for about 35 years, since the late 70’s, early 80’s.  My parents and grandparents were avid players and fans.  That helps. Of course, witnessing several golden ages of tennis doesn’t hurt either.  The athleticism and competitive drama in this sport over the past 30-40 years has been insanely magnetic.

A natural development in fandom is favoritism.  Some of us liked Borg, others McEnroe.  Some liked Becker, others Edberg, Sampras or Agassi, Federer or Nadal, etc.  None of what I just said has any controversy.

But the tennis blogosphere has some of this favoritism built in to their supposed neutral coverage of the sport that renders the coverage cycloptic.  This is a natural development of the democracy of blogging, of globalization, technology, etc.  This sort of fanaticism I guess is tolerable (we all have favorites), but when seemingly legitimate sources of news and commentary carry this big bias for a particular point-of-view, this is propaganda.  In the online tennis world, devotion to a particular player is common on certain sites; in the worst cases, however, the proprietors taunt people of other affiliations or people who are purely analyzing the sport without any specific denomination. Of course, this destroys their credibility (beyond the walls of their little kingdom).

There is one case where a site was at one time dedicated to Roger Federer.  We know there are legions of Federer fans who have enjoyed a tremendous run by, perhaps, the GOAT.  His run back in the aughts, along with his continued/current success, has created much devotion among fans, and even players alike.  This one Federer site, I have learned, changed recently; the owner  disavowed said Fed devotion and now has his panties in a bunch for Djokovic.  The tables have turned and he now looks down on Federer and those, for the most part, who remain Federer fans.

This blows my mind.  I was drawn to the site because of the analysis.  But that’s all been rendered pretty insignificant because he’s only got one eye open, if that.  As I said in the opening, this kind of fanaticism can lead to madness, sheer lunacy.  He doesn’t even know that he doesn’t know, I’m afraid.  The discussions on these kinds of blogs are religious in nature, or like some kind of dating site where everyone’s on some new-age drug: the latest and greatest tennis player is our hero and whoever is not on this bandwagon, this drug, is banned from the site.

Listening to him taunt his former readers (friends?) was like some kind of weird cult disintegration.  Their leader has had a change of heart.  The disenfranchised!

I’m not from that school-of-thought.  We all have players that we’re drawn to for a variety of reasons. But this is childish, playground BS.

On my site, I will devote my energies to analyzing the hell out this sport as objectively as I can; and try to provide, above all, a welcoming environment where people of all religions and persuasions and favoritisms can feel comfortable discussing this great sport in civil ways, with smarts and collaboration as our primary tenets.

To such biased perspectives (that supposedly encourage real understanding of the sport): if you’re going to provide any meaningful commentary or news, want to provide some kind of service to all of the inspired and hungry tennis fans out there, pull it together.  Because right now your bias has you by the ass, is twirling and slapping you around and rendering the noise an annoying combination of stupidity and arrogance.

Now, back to regularly scheduled programming.

5 thoughts on “Your Bias Has You By the Ass

  1. Hi Matt,

    Regarding that blog’s issue, I’m also one who has followed that blog for a long time there. The current name I’m using is different from what I use when I post there. He was never directly hostile to me, but I can notice the hostility towards many Federer fans that I feel undeserved.

    In my view, he put himself into a problem of a multitude of levels. He changed from being a Federer fan to a Djokovic fan. OK, but if he is so offended by the longtime followers of his blog who are big fans of Federer, I think he has to brand the blog better, a different way…make it obvious that it’s a blog of Djokovic fans. “ultimatedjokovicblog” will serve such a purpose, for example. To vast majority of people, Federer’s brand of tennis (at his prime, of course) is still regarded as the ultimate. So branding that blog that way, many still think the blog is for his old Federer followers.

    While it’s his business why he’s changing allegiances, I think I have an idea why. It seems there was a point that he became more an anti-Nadal than a Federer fan, and there are good reasons for people being the former. Now, if Federer can’t do the job and Djokovic can? I guess it’s time to jump ship? Along with this, it seems that he has a need to be a polarizing, controversial figure. Consequently, this alienates many of his (largely) passionate but polite followers.

    There are no objective assessment in a sport as abstract as tennis. In athletic competitions you can have that measure of objectivity, e.g. Usain Bolt has a record of 9.58s for 100m sprint so he’s the fastest man. When one calls passionate Federer fans biased, and Djokovic fans objective…it’s clear how one’s own bias aligns.

    Bottomline is, if he really wants to get rid off most of the passionate Federer fans and not ever be bothered by them anymore, he should brand/name the blog more appropriately. If he still wishes to keep the old followers then he should tone down the hostility and be more receptive towards them.

    By the way, that blog is currently down.

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    • I agree with you. The entire project is just absurd. Why the heavy alliance that pigeon holes you and alienates people, etc. Not very smart at all.

      I think you’re right about the anti nadal hysteria, as if he’s searching for a hero to vanquish the enemy.

      Maybe he’s turning the site, like you suggest, into a djokovic alter….

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      • The anti-Nadal hysteria bit = spot on, Andy and Matt.

        To add more info to this discussion, I think it’s very valid to mention that speculation about other players doping was once rampant on that blog, and Djokovic was among those accused. His seemingly miraculous rise in 2011 surprised many, including me. A guy who once had an excellent chance of bagging the Career Retirement Slam (retiring in a match in all four slams in one’s career) was suddenly outlasting Nadal in the humidity of Miami. The owner was among the speculators and this continued for a few years. This anecdote is meant to illustrate the level of fanaticism on said blog which it is now supposedly devoid of.

        Now, to actually pitch in on doping speculation. In hindsight, Nole started getting better in 2010, not 2011. Recall his defeat of Roger in the USO semis.

        Djokovic says that he has coeliac disease and it is known that he is now on a gluten-free diet. Such a transformation is possible, because for some people, the allergic reaction is severe. Hence the breathing problems, lack of stamina, etc. That explanation satisfies me, because there always seemed to be a gap between pre-2011 Nole’s apparent conditioning and his performance. Unless some evidence emerges to the contrary, no reason to believe otherwise.

        The recent introduction of blood passports should shed more light in the years to come. What do you think?

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  2. Good stuff, Utsav. It’s a tough issue to wrap your brain around because of all the ways athletes can cheat tests, the fact you hope it’s not destroying the sport, etc. Some people say it’s through-out pro tennis. I think we do have certain players who seem to fit the profile – peaks and valleys of performance, injuries, body types, etc.

    I read an article recently about the passport and how that alone will shorten Nadal’s career. Lol. Might’ve been a comment on a blog, but that seems to perhaps help monitor this potential problem.

    I follow a lot of sports, have for a long long time. One of the biggest side-effects of PED is the prevalence of injury, seemingly early in careers. Many baseball players like Alex Rodriguez have these classic cases: bad hip, knees, joints, etc. Many people assume Tiger Woods used. Aside from his infidelity nightmare, he has been a wounded mess for years. Nadal fits this pattern too.

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  3. Pingback: Nadal v Federer Pt. I | Matt's Blog

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