Written by Stanley Greenberg Friday, 10 July 2009 00:00
As Roger Federer and Andy Roddick battled it out with tennis rackets at Wimbledon, I realized that both these gentlemen could be role models for ourselves and for our children. Both are happily married (whatever that means) and speak intelligently and have a reasonable lifestyle.
Roger was kind to Andy when he was quoted with “Sports, or tennis is cruel sometimes. We know it.” We have been attuned to brash, insincere, brazen heroes of the gridiron, basketball court and the pastoral green fields of baseball. It is usually “me, me, me” in their quotes to the media. How refreshing it is not to hear Mohammed Ali sniping at his opponent before a boxing match.
The sports press sometimes tries to make our heroes something they are not. They use these clichés “Man of the Year” or “Pillar of Society” and “Happily Married” to designate how wonderful our idols are. When they are caught carrying illegal guns, or brutalizing women, or taking unlawful drugs, we are completely surprised. They have built them up in our estimation and then the tearing down process begins.
Each of our beloved heroes seems to have an “Achilles heel” or a vital flaw in their character. This is also true of our politicians and Hollywood stars.
The press begins the tearing down process. Build them up to the heavens and find the weakness, then tear them down to the gutter. Phrases such as “feet of clay” or “can’t handle the pressure” pop up in the sports page. We see Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman, Rafael Palmeiro and Diego Maradona sitting in the dock proclaiming their innocence. It is a hideous show.
Roger and Andy brought back sanity to the sports world. Humble and unassuming, they gave us great pleasure with their athletic abilities. How refreshing. We wish them both well in their lives and careers.