This might be a fool’s errand. A futile exercise in order to catch a handful of smoke or look for a reason to dim the brightness of Carlos Alcaraz’s future. But let’s try something different this week and appeal, if not for him Hello In the Republic of Tennis, then to bring the talk of the margins and the discourse of sanitation. Let’s give this a try and see how it goes…. Then we can resume the debate about who belongs in the Hall of Fame or whether the Laver Cup benefits women and whether tennis balls are yellow or green.
So, on the Sunday morning of the Laver Cup, I woke up to a text message from a former player who is live in Djokovic’s camp. he wrote: “I see them [sic] He made ND work for a million US dollars.”
What did he mean? Nadal and Federer played together in doubles on Friday. They got, rightly, a lot of hype. They were the subject this is An unforgettable picture.
But here was Djokovic, a job For his appearance fee, winning matches with the highest tennis player. (Divation: For a man who hasn’t played a match since Wimbledon, this was a supernaturally high level; a level he achieved last week in Tel Aviv.) But each of them played only once during the competition and did not contribute a point to the total for Team Europe. Meanwhile, Djokovic was in the process of playing his third match in 24 hours – and before his limited resources and energy ran out – he was single-handedly putting Team Europe in a position to score another victory. Implicitly, there was something symbolic here.
So I agreed with my friend’s opinion and rating. It is unofficially acknowledged – violating Occam’s code on social media that dictates: Play it straight too often, attempts at humor backfire–I tweeted a fake conversation. It was meant to be a compliment to Djokovic, who knew the rules of engagement and was still willing to score and go to work.
But it didn’t go well with Twitter users. It was a bloodbath. I was an idiot and a clown and a hater and a bully. And the media is bad. The West is miserable. Then wait for the backlash. Djokovic didn’t even deserve to be in the Laver Cup and why glorify someone who doesn’t deserve it, distracting Federer? What about the vaccination status? What about playing in Israel? What about his emails? …
Sometimes Twitter is so toxic that it deserves a super EPA-funded cleanup status… that athletes have enthusiastic fan bases is also old news. It has been clear for years that Djokovic in particular, incites extremists on both sides, criminals and ardent defenders.
But what was amazing to me: While watching the Laver Cup, it was clear how a little Animus is ultimately among the best players. This is not US policy. This is not MSNBC vs. Fox and Murdoch. This is not the Brexiteers versus the rest. Or even SEC Football.
Social media ferocity? It does not at all reflect the situation on the ground, the relationship between the players that these tribes claim to represent. In fact, he insults her. Among the actual Big Three, there is (clearly and beautifully) this recognition, both stated and tacit, that each appreciates the existence of the others, the power of rivalry and an unparalleled history. This was played in real time at The O2.
However, on phones and keyboards, it was as ugly as ever. The usual ridiculous phishing, seasoned by bots or accounts with two-digit followers who somehow got into the chat. The inevitable clown and poo emoji – cowards embroidery. Attacks on the media befitting any tyrannical ruler. deceptive arguments. ethnic slurs. The doping allegations are unfounded.
Social media is essential to such a global and remote sport. And Twitter for tennis can be a warm and intelligent community. It could also be a view of hell. Hieronymous Bosch pixel board with GIFs. I was talking to a Hall of Famer last week who said she wouldn’t even mention a single member of Big Three because their fan base is too nasty to defend their man. A sports giant hesitates to mention a giant player…. because of the brutality of his fans? Who wins here?
To be clear: the call is complete Can’t we all get along? The truce is not only naive, but inappropriate, I would argue. Sports, by definition, is competitive. There are scoreboards and drawing papers. Many of us are tired of arguing about goats and find it boring and reductive. But it is expected and perfectly normal – and it is journalistic misconduct to completely ignore it. Unlike music, art, and literature, sports are based on competition, records, and the duo of wins and losses. Are fans now supposed to opt out of the ‘The Greatest’ debate?
And rocket fuel for sport? That athletes and teams are representative. We see ourselves in Serena Williams, Arsenal or Indiana Pacers. Telling someone that you don’t like their team is often a personal insult.
But here is a plea for civility and proportion, to bring this passion from the sidelines. Stand at the network, service line, or baseline. But come from the parking lot. Do you love your man more than the other two? amazing. Choose your path. What is the royal behavior of some? It is an arrogance of others. What is the dedication to ritual when some? It is an annoying delay technique for others. what he seeks and opens the way for some; It is irresponsible to others. This is subjective. This is fandom. Want to argue civilly? amazing. Do you want to summon the media for treatment that you consider unfair or unprofessional? Great, though please provide receipts and privacy, not “bad media”. Do you want to criticize the ATP or the tournament for what you consider preferential treatment? Definitely make your case.
Torture a warm metaphor, urge the exchange of paint. But not collisions. Fan ridicule, not fan wars. Like your man, without making others – or their admirers – your sworn enemy. Mention your meat with the media, without the calls “You should be fired” and “You’re in luck, Player X isn’t suing you for defamation.” That an ATP or sponsor event (more than) promotes Player Y does not make it corrupt and unbelieving.
Imagine: what if tennis fans took all this passion, personalization, and righteous anger and applied it to get rid of tyrants. Or fight climate change. Or condemn drivers who are chaotic in the traffic lane. Or asking tennis players to earn more prize money and labor protections. Or, less confrontational, channel all that passion into celebrating how lucky we are to be in this age of tennis.
Often in life – throughout history? We’d be better off if we could get rid of the ten percent on the sidelines, who pollute the pool for everyone. But it is particularly out of place here. There are villains in sports. Even a little in tennis. But there are no bad guys among the big three. Not even close. Don’t take anyone else’s words. Just ask – and watch – Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
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