Trying your very best & accepting the outcome gracefully …

As you might have noticed, I am a huge sports fan. I follow all kinds of sports. Quite often you see athletes who just do not understand what it means to be a good sport. Some examples are:

– Losing a match soundly and claiming that you had a plethora of injuries (Case in point: Roger Federer, after his loss to Thomas Berdych in the Wimbledon 2010 Quarterfinals. I ama huge Federer fan, but I think he was not gracious in bringing up some “injuries” during his post-match interview. Anyone who saw that match could make out that he was soundly beaten by an opponent playing very aggressive tennis)

– Statements like “I lost the match. She/He did not win it”

– Not even shaking hands with the opponent (Case in point: LeBron James, after the Cleveland Cavaliars’ loss to Orlando Magic in Eastern Conference Finals 2009. His claim was that “he hated to lose”, blah blah … Come on! Everyone hates to lose. No one
“likes to lose”. Something similar was done by Peyton Manning after his Indianapolis Colts lost to the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV earlier this year)

No competent person, confident in his abilities, goes into a match/game wishing to lose. All the practice and preparation is intended to put one in the best position to compete and win. During the game, everything (except cheating, of course) is on. Mentally and physically, one tries to subdue the opponent. Basically, you give it your all. But once the match/game concludes and God forbid, the result is not in your favor, it is done. Game Over. Time to move on. A good sport will acknowledge that, congratulate the opponent for a good match/game and leave with his/her head held high in the understanding that the best effort was not good enough in that particular match/game.

The above is of course, my personal viewpoint.

The viewpoint above would explain why I was (and am) never a big fan of the Williams sisters (though I think Venus has a bit more class than Serena). Serena is the sorest loser I have ever seen in sports. I admire her physical capabilities, her mental strength and of course, her records. I also admire the fact that she displays interests outside the sport of Tennis. But her grace, not so much. I can recite countless Interviews and Press Conferences where she just would not admit to her losing. Every reason under the sun is pulled out of the hat, as an explanation for her loss, but never the statement “I lost to a better player today”. The Media would never highlight this, for obvious reasons. When you are trying to promote the program, the last thing you want to do is to be negative towards your biggest star. It is very easy to show grace when one has just won the match/game (like she did today after her Wimbledon 2010 win). The real benchmark is whether one shows grace after an adverse result.

This explains why Serena is several rungs below, in my mind, compared to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are (generally) as gracious as they come.

I was touched by watching Kim Clijsters in Wimbledon 2010, who after a very tough loss to Vera Zvonareva in the Quarterfinals, went out of her way to hug the opponent warmly at the net and congratulate her. What grace under adverse circumstances …