Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Okay, I feel as if I am being hit over the head with a sledgehammer!

Last night (and on into the morning), I watched Andre Agassi play the first round of the US Open. I do not watch tennis. I really find it rather boring. You whack the ball back and forth with seemingly strange rules. I, personally, would not last a single game. I cannot run for the asthma. Thus, I can admire the athleticism, but do not really see it as an interesting sport. Sort of like hockey. Who watches that?

Anyway, I was channel surfing and stumbled upon the pre-game dissection of whether or not Andre would even be able to play given his age, his failing back, and the fact that he has already announced his retirement. Gusty of him, I thought. It is one thing to announce, after a win or an early exit, to say that the time has come for you to step away from the sport. It is another to announce your retirement to the world and then let them watch, knowing a first round exit could happen, knowing the whole world would be dissecting your every move, describing in bloody detail every mistake you made and ascribing it to being old, being injured, losing an edge that at one time had the tennis world trembling.

My interest was caught, and before long, I found myself watching his opening match. I will admit, I wished that I knew more about the rules of tennis as I watched. But, really, it was not the game I was watching, it was the man.

I marveled at his courage. I marveled at his fortitude. I marveled at the fact that he was able to come back from 0-4 in the second set to win in a tiebreaker. The entire match was a wickedly brutal slug fest, each man matching an impressive physical display by his opponent with one of his own. Each man facing exhaustion and fighting to set aside fatigue to focus on the next swing of the racket.

Andre prevailed.

Whether he wins the tournament or loses in the next match, he has sent a powerful message to those seated in the stadium and those watching on television: Know yourself. Do that which you are capable of doing. Never give up. Go out in style.

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