We’re in the thick of the last major tennis tournament of the year right now, in the second week of the U.S Open in Flushing Meadows, Queens. I’m coming off of a high after watching Roger play an impeccable match against Robin Soderling (who many thought would be a real challenge for Roger). By Roger, I’m talking about Roger Federer, the greatest tennis player of all time. After somewhat of an “off” year, Roger is back in tip-top shape and playing like he never lost his #1 spot. It’s stunning to watch.
I can’t really remember when I first started watching tennis, but it didn’t take long to become a fan. Pete Sampras was at the top of his game (so actually, it must’ve been the mid to late 90s some time) and it was a beauty to watch him. Of course, until Roger took over the reign.
If you’ve ever discussed tennis with me, you know that I can go on about Roger for a very long time. I won’t reiterate his greatness any further here. His record speaks for itself. What I have been pondering this past year, amidst the Winter Olympics, World Cup, NBA finals, Wimbledon and U.S. Open… is why I love to watch sports so much. It’s not like I play any of these sports, or any sport for that matter. I’m the antithesis of an athlete. And besides… sports? It’s just a game.
Or is it?
For me, sports is my ultimate escape from reality. I don’t watch much TV or movies, or read much fiction. I guess through the years, admiring top athletes and teams made me think I could dream big and accomplish the impossible. Life took a toll on me, but I could always rely on the Bulls to win another championship or Michelle Kwan to win another world title. I could always count on Mariah to hit that note in all of its glory. And I can always count on Roger to play incredible tennis. (Sure, all of the above have had disappointing moments, but overall and in my memory, they will always be #1.) Now that I think about it, my passion for each of the sports of which I am a fan became so strong as a direct result of the performance of the athletes who were at the top of their game at that particular time. I love watching passionate people working hard at and doing something they love. Especially knowing that many of them grew up loving the game and dreaming big dreams and giving it their all to become the best at it. It is inspiring to watch. It actually really inspires me to be more devoted to my own craft and go for it with all that I am. I want to hear the stories about Mariah practicing that whistle tone when she was young over and over again until she perfected it. And about Michael who would always be on the court earlier than everyone else to practice his shots. It reminds me of those days when I would listen to a song on repeat on my old tape deck so that I could dissect the vocals and practice it until I could sing it in exactly the same way.
Granted I’m not the world’s #1 at anything. But that really doesn’t matter. God gives all of us gifts and we owe it to him to do the absolute best that we can do with it. It just doesn’t make sense to do any less.
My fear of failure and disappointment with life slowed me down for a long time. But I’ve been steadily embracing the challenges and going for it.
Won’t you join me?