Mornin', folks. I was a little surprised by some of the reactions to my last post, A Charmed Life. After posting the piece, I felt I may have devoted too much of it to this fashion-image thing (territory I'd covered two weeks ago), but I did so to set up my main theme, which was how a combination of factors (including that one) work against many people fully appreciating Federer's strengths and talents.
And oddly enough, the reactions, with the exception of a few readers, centered on the fashion bits and in a curious way. My commentary was denounced by many as meaningless or frivolous, after which the protesters immediately weighed-in on the theoretically "meaningless" observations - with gusto.
Meanwhile, most of the latter half of the post - the more game- based, fresher, and clearly less controversial material - went largely unremarked. I put it down to the fact that for many, any perceived criticism of their idol - whoever he is - becomes the dominant theme in any post. It's a forest-trees kind of thing, and it causes many people to seemingly abandon what capacity they have for critical, careful reading. It's a form of hysteria, I suppose, caused by drinking too much of the Kool-Aid. In fact, I noticed quite a few readers lurching around yesterday, belching, bellies distended and mouths disfigured by pink stains all around the lips. Maybe the best thing about these regular orgys of denunciation and outrage is the way they provide Grant with a platform for some of the funniest comments I've ever seen posted, anywhere. Anyone else suspect he's channeling that other Grant, Cary?
BTW, I inserted Gottfried von Cramm into the story because he seems to me overwhelmingly the model for Roger Federer - appreciated and lionized in his time for many of the same reasons as The Mighty Fed is admired today. The bits about Barbara Hutton were too tempting to pass up because of the glamour associations, but also because so many of Federer's most ardent and insistent fans are women who have a special most appreciation of men like Cramm and Federer. I imagine that if you polled women only (25-and-older, please) Federer might be the most beloved big-name athlete in the planet. But the counter-force of Rafa fans would certainly be significant.
One thing is for sure: no meaningless post can generate the volume of discussion and debate as some of these less-than-worshipful posts, so let's be honest about this: you can't have it both ways. You can't say you "don't care" about a certain issue and then go off writing long and passionate comments about it without automatically making someone (me) wonder: If this is so meaningless, why is everyone so eager to jump into the discussion. Surely, this stuff hits a nerve. The comments prove it.
Anyway, I've got to get to work on a Serena Williams post, and while it may seem impossible to rally your enthusiasm, let's remember we have Davis Cup coming up this weekend - the toughest weekend of the year, for players (and perhaps fans) alike. All I can say is, thank the Lord that Federer isn't playing Davis Cup. Let's leave that genie in the bottle, shall we?