Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Curse of 32 Inches

I was quiet yesterday because I’ve ruined my back. Actually, it’s a muscle in my right shoulder and it happened when I was watching ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ on Sunday night. I might have been laughing too hard when Larry David joined a children’s game of ‘Chinese Whispers’ and corrupted the minds of many innocents. I prefer to think it was the result of my moving a 32 inch TV set earlier in the day.

The old TV had been sitting in the flat for weeks. Since Gabby bought herself a new 40 inch flat Sony Bravia, she’s been telling me to throw the old TV away. I’ve been putting it off, the weight making my blood run cold at the very thought of trying to lift it.

Ten minutes before the men’s final at Wimbledon was due to start, I tripped over the TV for the dozenth time and finally decided that it had to go. Foolish of me, I know, but I dragged it out of the flat all by myself. And I’m sure I tore a muscle in the process. I turned to pick up a book today and collapsed on the floor in agony. I’ve barely moved all day.

Which gave me plenty of time to think about Roger Federer.

The media seem to make so little of the things which in seem to mean so much to me in my life. When these tennis players get sprains, are they really as painful as my back? You’d never think so. The media like to portray stars in a different reality to the rest of us and Roger Federer seems to live in a stranger world than most. For instance, I’ve found myself obsessing over his crest.

Most big sportsmen and women personalise their equipment. Beckham has the names of his sons on his boots. Tiger Woods has furry tiger covers to his golf clubs. Federer has logos on his bags indicating how many times he’s won Wimbledon. Only, the current men’s champion doesn’t stop there. He also has his own crest.

When he won, on Sunday, Federer put on a pair of long white trousers and a jacket, emblazoned with his moniker. It’s actually not much of a crest, just his initials and the flag of Switzerland. Some praise the look for a return to traditional Wimbledon fashion. I can’t accept it as simply as that. It makes him look like some minor prince from a minor European royal family; the Crown Prince of the Grass Court, perhaps. It appears utterly gauche to me and I can’t help but think of Omar Shariff in those films of the 1970s where he usually drives around Monaco and the ladies swoon. I can’t see Federer getting the same reactions. Or perhaps he does and I don’t understand Monaco.

‘Who is that handsome devil?’

‘Why it’s Prince Federer of the Grass Court. The ladies go crazy for his sliced backhand.’

‘He looks so dashing. Is that his crest he wears so magnificently on his chest?’

‘I hear he also has a tattoo…’

‘Oh, do tell…’

I find it astonishing. What possesses a grown man, with such talent, to demean his success in such a cheap way?

Gabby told me to calm down and that he deserves to flaunt his success. And Wikipedia seems to agree with her. Of Roger Federer it says: ‘‘Many experts and many of his own tennis peers believe Federer may be the greatest player in the history of the game.’ Only I don’t remember Björn Borg being so pleased with himself that he had a suit made to celebrate his victories. Perhaps he should. Wikipedia also says that Borg is ‘regarded by some observers and tennis players as the greatest player in the sport's history’.

Ali proclaimed that he was the ‘greatest’ and many sports fans would agree. But with Ali, the showmanship was always cleverer than that. By calling himself the ‘Greatest’ he was also mocking the notion of greatness, playing the role of the champion at the same time as he was also lampooning it. By mocking it, Ali somehow made a greater claim to the truth that he was the Greatest.

Federer’s crest is something else. There is nothing that hints of lampooning success. It doesn’t prove that he’s the greatest. Quite the contrary. By lacking humility, it also lacks something else. Certainty. Belief. It smacks of bravado. It only reminds me that some day he will no longer be champion.


ElizaF said...

So let me get this right; a man with his butt out on his blog is slagging off a man with a crest on his chest? I am sure there is an adult themed nursery rhyme in there somewhere :) E.

Big Chip Dale said...

My 'butt', as you so delicately describe it, is part of my professional equipment and I go nowhere without it. Roger Federer's gold crest on his white blazer is just an extravagance.

What would you all think if I started to go around wearing the logo of the British Thong Society? You'd call me mad and rightly so!

Internet Ronin said...

Bravado. Chutzpah. Audactity. Nerve. Yes.

Would anyone care to place bets on whether or not that crest is permanently affixed somewhere on his body?

ElizaF said...

" What would you all think if I started to go around wearing the logo of the British Thong Society?"

Oh I don't know, I can't comment on the goods just by the gaudiness of the packaging :)