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Taking Out the Rubbish

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SMASHING STUFF: Safin broke racquets and rules

Sports commentators can sometimes really talk a load of rubbish. I guess that’s understandable since they are paid to keep the words flowing even when there isn’t much to say, and I can sympathise since I tried my hand – tongue, actually – at a bit of ice hockey and American football play-by-play announcing in my college days.  But all the same, I think we need to take what they say with a grain of salt and I’m bracing myself for a painful amount of hero worshiping, biased views and over-the-top criticism while I vegetate in front of my TV watching the French Open and Wimbledon tennis championships and football’s World Cup during the next two months.
Yeah, I know, it would be a simple matter to turn down the volume, but then I’d have one less thing to write about; and I mean, hey, I get paid to keep the words flowing.
And speaking of double standards, I also don’t appreciate all the free advice that’s dished out by the ex-jocks, much of which is based on questionable assumptions about what fans want and a value system that believes winning is everything.
As an Arsenal supporter, I’m fed up with being told I want Arsene Wenger to change the team’s style of play in order to win more (as in more than none in the past five years) trophies when, in fact, I don’t.  Believe it or not, how the game is played is more important to me than winning and my main desire is to see 50 or so truly entertaining games each year.
And on the tennis side, do I really think it would be wonderful for Roger Federer win yet another Grand Slam?  I mean talk about an extremist: the man is set for life, billions in the bank, endorsements galore, loads of silverware and his own clothing line based on the less stylish aspects of the South African cricket team’s travelling kit but still he goes out on the practice court and  hits tennis balls for six hours a day. The same can be said for Sarena Williams – except her fashion goal appears to be to make her bum look even larger than it already is.
Is this reasonable behaviour? Are these the roll models you want your kids to follow?
Not me; I’m much more in favour of the road taken by recently retired Marat Safin. The Russian managed two grand slam titles in his 13-year career and took home just under US$15 million in prize money and many times that amount in endorsements while messing around on and off the court and appearing to have loads of fun.  He also tried to be kind to journalists and spectators and was always gracious in defeat, and he appears to have a wonderful relationship with his younger sister who stars on the women’s tour.
And what do the commentators say about Safin?  So much talent but not enough dedication; if only he’d taken the game more seriously he could have had made US$20 million instead of just 15.
What a load of rubbish.