Jon Wertheim

Essay on Social Media (Kinda)

Is that title effective SEO? I somewhat come-clean with my parenthetical disclosure. Yeah, I have a sentence or two about potential ills of said industry/tools, but I take aim here, again, at some of the participants/tools who use these global conversational mechanisms.

And good Thursday to you! A lot on tap today/night in Los Cabos and Washington D.C. (sorry to ignore the Austrian clay – but do comment on that if you’d like, for we are all ears tennis).

We’re yet to see the first ball in either HC venue today, so what a perfect opportunity to address some of that off-court crap that often interests us.

I just got done reminding my kid again how social media (especially of the snapchat kind of crap) are garbage. The kids (old man rhetoric pulling into the driveway) are obsessed with this online world; that I might be guilty of throwing shade at the entire population might amount to some ethnocentric swerve and if so, I apologize. Maybe this is more of an American culture issue, but it’s an issue.

I also understand that two things can be true: social media are potentially distracting and destructive, but can and do provide us with numerous advantages. A blog, after all, is part of this technological and social landscape. I assume you understand my concern as a parent or any sensible individual with concern for humanity, the planet, etc.

And so: there is my set-up (context) for what bit of social media I stumbled across today, via tennis writer Jon Wertheim and his world according to Twitter.

Here’s a fairly harmless tweet simply announcing his discussion on SI.com about a few things tennis and otherwise. His “column” is set-up in a kind of mailbag format, so he’s responding to readers, responding to their comments, answering their questions.

I will touch-on some of the actual points of discussion in a moment, but first we’re talking about the garbage truck that is (potentially) social media (in this case Twitter), where everyone has a voice and therefore a “meaningful” criticism or argument. Again, I understand the inherent democratic ethos of social media, much of this as part of a very convincing case for the proliferation of these social platforms to challenge authority, etc.

But you know where we’re going here: Tennis Fanland, where all the cute fanboys and fangirls get to scream their bloody heads off for the sake of their infallible tennis heroes! Weeeeeeeee!

You can click on that Wertheim tweet above and see the ensuing discussion, but let me help you out and post this next tweet from JW where he admits that he’s committing a cardinal sin by even acknowledging these fangirls/social media “trolls.”

You can follow that trail to see the misery of the Djokerfan in all her/their wild interpretation of anything that doesn’t don the Serb in lovely robe, jeweled crown and magnificent staff.

In other words, folks, as you’ve seen me (one who tries to maintain some balance and order over my and others’ ATP perspectives) get pulled into this fanclub bullshit: here’s a mainstream “nice guy” getting mugged on social media. For what?

I suppose the fangirls take issue with Wertheim suggesting that Djokovic’s troubles traverse beyond the bruised elbow. Thought on this? Do you think JW stepped in it here? Anyone who spends a bit of time on this consideration, acknowledges Djokollapse, etc., should probably come to a similar kind of harmless and concerned view of his recent decline.

I think the fangirls are insufferable and actually undermine their hero, who’s future, to JW’s point, is a bit uncertain – though, to JW’s point, Federer and Nadal’s break from the tour does show that such a hiatus is not necessarily “career suicide.” The SI writer/Tennis Channel voice seemed really to give more hope to Novak’s prognosis, but the paparazzi appear to be waiting on each and every potential syllable of disrespect.

I shouldn’t complain too much, to be fair: I get more material than I know what to do with from these vacuous trolls.
_____________________________________________________

To some of the actual points of discussion from Wertheim’s column, I have a few points to consider.

Actually, another trigger for the Djokerfan embedded in Jon’s response about Novak’s break is the comparison to Federer. Don’t you think this kind of association has to just boil that fan’s blood? We’re just guessing here, but I suspect this might have been the most “damaging” part of that response. Federer ruined the possibility of any unforeseen epic comeback following a big injury break (even though Nadal, actually, has made almost a career of such moves). I feel the pain of the Djokerfan here. RFRT, indeed.

Moving-on, how about this next question from a Wertheim reader:

Couldn’t you still make the argument that Pete Sampras is GOAT? Why? Simply because shouldn’t the number of Grand Slam titles be compared relatively to the players’ peers rather than across generations. Sampras won 14 titles, Agassi the next on that list won eight. Sampras won a whopping 75% more titles. Shouldn’t that tell you that it was more difficult to win Grand Slam titles in that era? Shouldn’t we also take into account that the game has changed (Technology, training, court speed etc.) since the 90s and made it possible to have far more consistent results? 
Rahul, Brooklyn

This is HRFRT. Rahul, here, is onto something, but he needs me to take the argument from where he says: “Agassi the next on that list won eight.” Not only that, Rahul: Borg’s and Laver’s 11, and Emerson’s 12 had been eclipsed, which seemed perhaps insurmountable when you consider all of the greats of the 80s and 90’s who came-up well short. The best analysis here drives a deeper wedge into the bigger narrative, the historical context that surrounds theses players: who came before them, what motivates them, etc.

The point here concerns historical expectation. Sampras climbed tennis Everest and the stretch of history he dominated seemed truly remarkable. But it wasn’t as much, in the end, given what was just around the corner.

I can’t wait to finish that book. 😀

Wertheim responds well to the way Rahul worded his inquiry. The flaw is in comparing the player (Sampras or Federer) to his contemporaries. Sampras and Federer, a point I will certainly clarify in my piece, are the real trailblazers given the historical sequence of events, the timeline, if you will. Federer responded more to Sampras (I will explain and complicate that) and Nadal and Djokovic have responded to Federer. Given where we are now numbers-wise, someone certainly needs to explain HRFRT. You dig?

I will add that JW’s point about Serena is absurd. Sorry, Jon. Swing and a miss.

Here’s this question from another reader:

Just in the last few days, Rublev won a 250 event at age 19, Opelka blew at least six match points. Tiafoe, Fritz stumbling. Players changing coaches…

there is nobody I can find writing about this. Where do you get info online about this stuff? Any discussion sites, blogs you’d suggest? Could you write on emerging Americans, how they vary in balancing tournament scheduling/practice, long-term vs. short-term goals, and what their projected ceilings are (expected best ranking by expert consensus)? Also: What is the effect of having young kids on performance? (Murray, Djokovic, Fritz—injuries don’t heal if you don’t sleep/are carrying babies.)
Andy F.

Andy, come to Mcshow Blog! I will continue to cover the youngsters, as I have, and not just the Americans. I have tried to maintain a somewhat steady eye on that class as it’s health and success are paramount to the future of this sport.

But Andy F. reminds me that I need to do more.

One of the reasons I want to generate any revenue from this blog is so I can establish more and more access to the game, to actual tournament play, players, etc. Nothing motivates me (other than the act of writing and conversing with readers, which are both very inspiring) more than the chance to attend more live (bigger) tennis tournaments!

Have pen and paper, will travel. 😀

Finally, one error from yesterday’s post, in setting-up anticipation for the Fritz v Kokkinakis match today in Los Cabos, was that I called this a R16 encounter. This is a QF match, my friend. Big moment, imho, for the American. Between the two, the Aussie is in a better place with his game, having some success to speak of in 2017. Mainly, he and Jordan Thompson’s doubles title in Brisbane was a big surprise (and accomplishment), but his win over Raonic in straights at Queen’s even bigger and more relevant here.

Enjoy the tennis and Join the Conversation (yeah, I mean comment after reading and follow the blog via email – see top right on blog). Seriously. 🙂