Reading the Readers: Celebrity Mask Edition

Thursday, April 21, 2011 /by

Borg action 1 It's that time again, time to make the perilous click on the comments bar. Thanks for reading and taking the time to post if you did. Traffic here and on Tennis.com in general has been stronger this year than ever.

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Steve, its a good thing you aren't the umpire.
Everyone has an irrational side, and it may show up on various occasions in different facets of life, but we do have to pay consequences for everything in life.
We are all held to the strictest codes right from childhood, right from school. It makes sense from the management point of view. We have ethics, codes of conduct even at workplaces...athletes have a job too and are required to follow the strictest codes. These codes may change from time to time, but whatever is there has to be followed to prevent chaos and unfairness.LadyJulia

It is a good thing I’m not an umpire. I once umpired a Little League game that a friend was coaching and totally botched the only call at second base that I had to make. Hesitated before making a signal, and then still, by all accounts, got it wrong.

But in this case I’m not talking about enforcing rules, but judging the players on the correctness or incorrectness of their behavior. I don’t want any players breaking any rules that are on the books, from foot-faults to time between points to being coached from the stands. And I don’t enjoy seeing a player throw a tantrum, even if I do think the history of tennis would be a lot more boring—poorer in general—if there had never been a Nastase, Connors, or McEnroe, no matter how awful and cringe-worthy they might have been on certain occasions. What I mean is that I could see myself, in a professional match, if I thought I’d been robbed of a call, going pretty much bat---- insane, and I’m not even an excitable person normally. That thought always goes through my head when I watch the players start to lose it.

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My experience is that most politicians, business men, journalists etc who are questioned regarding their job performance are extremely defensive and that includes just about every tennis journalist I've been in contact with (with possibly one or two slight exceptions, I won't say who :))—CWATC

I guess this means I wasn't one of the possible slight exceptions. But no, just as I would struggle to maintain my composure on court, I would struggle not to get sarcastic in the press room now and then if I were a player.

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This whole piece brought to mind the trial of Barry Bonds. Many are lamenting the money, time and resources supposedly wasted on it. I plainly disagree in so much as he lied to America. He had no ethics on or off the field. He's one of the guys that took away everything that's good and right about baseball. I, for one, hope he's found guilty and Hank Aaron's record is restored. But that's another story altogether.—Michele

I hate hearing Michael Wilbon on PTI say that the trial is a waste of time because “nobody cares.” I do care, and I think a lot of other people do as well. Bonds helped make an entire era of baseball seem illegit. As we’ve been saying here, sports, while it isn’t life and death, is a place where ethics get played out on a public scale, which makes it important. So important in Spain, it seems, that a cyclist like Contador can appear to be protected by the authorities. That doesn't help anyone. Making sports stars untouchable heroes just makes it harder for fans to keep believing in the legitimacy and significance of what they’re watching.

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Steve - talking of poems - you should get a collection read on CD (wait, do people still buy CDs?) and listen rather than read.

Updike *shivers*Jewell

OK, maybe I’ll try that—which one should I get?

Updike, yes, he does come out of another era, male-chauvinism-wise, if that’s what you mean. He even said that the biggest job his editors at the New Yorker had was to remind him of that. He seems to go out of his way in his fiction to make himself, or his fictional stand-in, look like a jerk. He’s nicer in his essays.

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I am now going to order and then gobble up Bodo's Courts of Babylon slowly, savoring every juicy bite, as I would a young, succulent lover.Slice and Dice

Well, I wanted people to appreciate Pete, but don’t overdo it. It is a good book; even better is his Inside Tennis. And his old longform magazine profiles were excellent as well. Like most of us, I think, Pete is at his best when he’s closest to the sport. I thought his stuff from Miami this year was very good.

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Your defense of Bodo is condescending... why not just say his writing is a masterpiece instead of drawing attention to people who like to bash him? I would not have been aware of this if you had not brought it too attention.Joseph

It’s fun to bash back now and then, especially in defense of a friend.

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which made me think that both Bjorn and John Lennon had this reliance on svengali figures (Epstein, Bergelin) that seemed to allow them superstardom but cost them any semblance of normalcy. today's superstars have learned from their trailblazing and are less endangered, but somehow more boring as a ?result. (and what does that say about us, the spectators?)d

There was a lot of the Beatles in Borg. The svengali, the screaming girls, the global fame that was unprecedented in their lines of work. And later, a depressing recognition from both that they would never come close to matching their first acts.

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when federer loses now, it looks like he has no chance to win. he just can't produce what is needed, and after failing a few times, he resigns. even in the indian wells match against djokovic, the set he won seemed incongruous and not indicative of anything. today melzer played great but still, federer should have been able to muster (thomas?) up 1 or 2 breaks out of 7 chances. in which case, this would have been a match. but on those points, he looked overmatched. and then deflated.
when he wins, it's the opposite. he's got it from start to finish. no more close calls.—d

You have a point. Thinking back to the end of 2010, he appeared to be on virtually all the time. In 2011, when he’s off, he gets progressively further off. He won a five-setter over Simon in Melbourne, somehow dropped a set to Robredo there as well, and took the second set from Djokovic in Indian Wells. Other than that, all of Federer’s wins and losses have been in straight sets in 2011.

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Well, well, well...

How times have changed! This article was not about Novak and there were so many posts about him!
I feel Novak has indeed arrived if people hate him so much that he's always on their minds and they can't wait to write about him.Yolita

"The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."—some professional wit

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"Mike Ness? The Pogues? Jonathan Richman? Heck, the Strokes?
You guys are old!"susan

It’s true, I’m even older than the Strokes. A few years ago, a girl just out of college in our office couldn’t believe that I was older than Gwyneth Paltrow, because she is, like, “so old.”

I try to find new music, I really do. But I usually just end up finding old stuff I’d never heard before.

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Steve,
what kind of tennis did/do you play in terms of style??I am really curious to know!noleisthebest

I’m a lefty so I should have played like John McEnroe and served and volleyed, but I loved Borg as a kid, so I unwisely copied his baseline style. Now I've internalized Nadal's run around the backhand at all times style.

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“We wanted the mystique back”
That's exactly what Borg, the player, was: pure mysticism, a glittering star. Unfortunately, Borg, the person, seemed to get lost inside his own creation (if it was his, at all, or the people who surrounded him, we don't really know), an aloof and distant star. A true dichotomy, if there ever was oneAbraxas

Let me finish with a bonafide bon mot, from the much loved and loathed John Updike, that could sum up the Bjorn Borg saga:

“Celebrity is a mask that eats into the face.”

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