Tennis update: Federer v Thiem Stuttgart SF might be interesting. Federer looks pretty rough, having seen his R16 match with the 19 year-old American. Good stuff from Fritz. BH is getting better and his serve and FH are legitimate. Federer was lucky, quite frankly, to escape. And Del Potro, who looked like he was struggling against Simon for a set plus, thumped the Frenchman, bageling in the third. Del Po v Federer final for some old school grasssss?
Our boy Cilic lost to Stepanek in Holland. Wow. Such champion pedigree in that Croatian, eh? The discussion is not over on the USO 2014. What. A. Freaking. Disaster.
Now to the point of this article.
Having watched tennis for more than 35 years, like watching most sports, I have focused most of my attention on the sport itself, sure the players and matches, but never really gave much thought to investing so much energy into one particular player.
Even as a younger fellow, with the Americans dominating the game for years, throwing #1s and top-5 players at the tour constantly, I certainly enjoyed the depth (as well as one of them staying atop the sport for years). I literally grew-up with McEnroe, Conners, Gerulaitis, Tanner, and Ashe through to the Big 4 of Agassi, Sampras, Courier and Chang. These gents along with others (like the overrated Roddick and underrated Brad Gilbert or Jimmy Arias 😀 encouraged many young American tennis fans to enjoy the sport.
At the same time, the sport included a steady stream of international talent. I really liked Borg, appreciated Vilas, and really enjoyed growing-up and watching Lendl, Wilander, Edberg, Becker, Cash, Noah, Stich, Kuerten, Rafter, Kafelnikov, Ivanišević and Hewitt, among others.
We were loaded!
The good old days, as they say.
I have to admit; I kinda wonder: should I have become more of a fan of a particular player? Maybe I would have really gone places in tennis or sports or life in general if I’d started running around in jean shorts, for instance, trying to pull-off a mullet, or whatever that was on Andre’s head.
We do this as kids, actually. We really look-up to certain public figures (hopefully secondary to our parents). We become fans of certain athletes, rock stars, movie stars, etc. We put posters on our walls, maybe dress like them, defend them with others who share the same devotions/allegiances. It’s like we’re a team, a little cult. It was fun, right?
Childhood. The good old days.
This kind of devotion can and does follow people into adulthood, especially with team-oriented fanaticism. Soccer (futbol) has this kind of fanaticism world-wide, obviously. Here in the U.S., we have 3-5 popular sports, so we see a lot of this local and regional love people have for their teams, and some of their athletes.
As I have been blogging about tennis for over a year, I have seen the face of tennis fanaticism play-out on websites, blogs and discussion boards. Until delving into this underworld of tennis lust, I wasn’t as much aware of this hero-orgy of sorts I’ll call the “fanblog.” Should I have a “besty” too? Should I find some deeper connection to a particular player and advance that fidelity to others like some kind of lunatic?
But before I even go there, I’m a fan of Phil Mickelson (fellow San Diegan) and like Rory Mcilroy. Should I start a Mcilroy blog? I could follow the PGA Tour and lean heavily on my deepening affection for him and his game. Or what about Kelly Slater, Josh Kerr, or Greg Long (surfers)? That might be a cool blog or rant. Granted, a lot of this fanboy/girl stuff is about single individuals in individual sports, so I was thinking to stay with that theme. Having said that, I’m a big fan of Arjen Robben: what do you think? A Robben blog? That might be cool. Sure it’s a team sport, but I just love Arjen Robben’s style of play (though he has come-up short in some big WC matches 🙁
In the end, this isn’t my gig — getting all cuddly with a particular player. I enjoy watching and even analyzing the whole experience. Perhaps I’m not as emotionally attached, but I think this is a healthier approach.
This fanboy-girl blogging seems more reminiscent of an unchecked discussion board, full of the prominent anonymous genius. Or really it’s more reminiscent of children and how they approach their favorite movie stars, or sports or music heroes. Hell, we know some kids just love their toys. Imagine a pre-teen or even teenage girl’s birthday party where she and all of her friends oooh and aaahh about their favorite gimmick, boy idol or favorite dress.
That’s how some of this tennis fanboy fanblog bullshit sounds.
I got called a Fedfan by some clown (fanboy) the other day. I’m embarrassed for a lot of these “fans” who see the sport through this lens. Most people who read this blog know that I cheer-on many players and come after many players for all sorts of genius and flaw, via honesty and my general approach to this sport.
Many of these “tennis fans” sound like mean girls or giggling graffiti trolls. They sound like kids enjoying their favorite ice cream or, more accurately, their favorite pop singer, with whom they’re BFF.
Yet they’re not even Best Friends Forever because what we all see is how these allegiances will change if they’re star is no longer “the best.”
Embarrassing. Kills your credibility.
Most of these cheerleaders have actually gone through the history of stars such as being a Borg fan, then liking Sampras, only to fall in love with Federer, but dismiss him for either Nadal or (more likely) Djokovic. There are others that correspond to one’s country of origin, etc. On some level it’s natural and a great way to get involved. But once this becomes a kind of fetish, get the hell out of here.
As they’re want to say to themselves in the twilight of their hero’s career: Who you got next?
This is an interesting question. Certain fanboys and girls these days that litter the interwebs and other tennis talk (even the popular media to a degree) suggest that maybe there is no next. Novak Djokovic, they say, is the best player ever, plays the game at the highest level possible.
We have called this prisoner-of-the moment hysteria.
I am going to blame Federer for a lot of this, which I will cover in my next post unless I decide to write something else. But it’s coming: How Roger Federer Ruined Tennis.
The insistence upon perpetuating this GOAT culture is (as I have admitted) great for discussion, but ultimately fails, so it’s pointless to get your little diaper into a bunch. Watch the match. Enjoy it while it lasts. STFUP.
What happens if Novak, for instance, loses form? What will you do, fanboy? Will you switch your allegiance/devotion to another promising investment? You will most likely, at least for a while, champion whatever flawed statistical analysis/anecdotal BS at detractors, fizzling into some kind of disappearing act until you find a new BFF.
I’ll be doing my best to clean-up whatever crap comes my way as far as fanboy flap is concerned.
That’s really been the mission for this blog all along: to take another point-of-view and create thoughtful discussion. Are we always successful? No. But I will keep coming, like Fritz in his R16 match v Federer in Stuttgart.
You have seen me, for instance, write glowingly about Novak; you have also seen me divert somewhat the proverbial ticker tape parade for the Serb. There is nothing I enjoy more than mixing-it-up, complicating and suggesting to someone that he/she might want to look at it another way.
This is not a fanblog.