Thursday, January 25, 2007

Roger Federer: Tennis G.O.A.T.

Ho-hum. Another day, another dominating victory by tennis god Roger Federer, blasting poor Andy Roddick in straight sets, 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 in the Australian Open semifinal. I'm not usually a big tennis fan, but I have found it incredibly enjoyable the last few years watching Federer rack up major victory after major victory. It's less about the tennis than it is being in the midst of history. When authorities like Andre Agassi are saying that he may be the best player of all time, I tend to believe that.

And what a renaissance we're in now for G.O.A.T.'s (Greatest of All Time, to steal Muhammad Ali's term). We have Federer, who barring injury or abrupt retirement, will surely hold all the records there are to hold, and of course the incomparable Tiger Woods. Add in Michael Jordan, and in the last 20 years, we've seen the greatest players of all time in three different sports.

I've found that it's more fun to root for a dominating player in individual sports rather than team games. With a team game, you have a city that you identify with and unless your team is dominating, winning title after title, you're going to be resentful of any city and team that is hogging the spotlight. There's something to the civic pride that's natural to people.

But with individual sports like golf or tennis, you may root for a particular player because you like his or her personality, but there's probably not the deep attachment that you would get with your local baseball team for example. So you're more tolerant of an athlete who is preposterously head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, a la Federer. You're free to watch a feat of greatness without the cumbersome resentment of city rivalry coming into play.

In that vein, I'm not afraid to say that I'm rooting for Federer to finish the job and win his 10th major title.

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