Showing of emotions in public

CHAMPIONS do show emotions, especially when talking about their families or someone close to them who have helped in their development to the champion status.


Tim Henman may be a model of good behavious now, but in his early days he way very unpopular.-Pic. AP

CHAMPIONS do show emotions, especially when talking about their families or someone close to them who have helped in their development to the champion status. This was clearly evident in the last few weeks as Roger Federer and Ben Curtis broke down publicly while thanking their families for the sacrifices and efforts that they had made in making them champions. In the past too, we have seen how Pete Sampras cried on the court as he thought of his coach Gullikson who had been struck by cancer and was unable to be with him at the Australian Open that year. This was during a quarter-final match against fellow American Jim Courier if one's memory is right.

Not surprisingly, some British papers were derisive of the emotions shown by Federer on receiving the All-England Open Tennis Championship trophy, not understanding the effort it takes to get to the top. If the family is not supportive, then it's virtually impossible for a person to be successful in his chosen field, especially sports, so to acknowledge them is no bad thing at all. The first reaction on reaching a milestone or special achievement is to thank God and then one's families.

Roger Federer has been on the verge of winning the big one for a long long time, but was somehow unable to take that big step that would take him to the winner's podium rather than the early flight home, so when he did make that coveted destination, it wasn't surprising that he became emotional. After all, winning a Slam is what all tennis players dream about and though other trophies are welcome, its the Slams that one is eventually remembered for. Federer had played some flawless tennis and won with an ease that was astounding. He quickly came down to earth when he was beaten in the finals of the Swiss Open the following week.

While Federer was a known player on the tennis circuit, Ben Curtis was quite anonymous when he won the British Open golf tournament though he was earlier named the Rookie of the Year. In fact, he had barely qualified for the tournament and his previous winnings were about (U.S.) $190,000 before he contested in the British Open. He won a cheque of a million pounds and no doubt the endorsements will follow soon. He won against more experienced campaigners and players like Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els by keeping his cool in tough conditions on the last day.

The Brits may have a thing about showing emotions in public, but for the rest of the world, it's the most natural thing in the world to do. Greg Rusedski however was an exception to the famous reserve, as he let fly at the chair umpire after a spectator called `out' to a ball that was in and Rusedski, believing that the call was from a linesman, did not continue the rally. He went on to lose the match and was fined the measly sum of 1500 pounds. When one considers that Lleyton Hewitt was fined many times that amount by the same ATP for not attending a Press Conference, one realises how the Brits get away lightly in just about every sport. Have a look at the misdemeanours in vari<147,1,7>ous sports and you will find other nationals being fined and/or disciplined far more severely than the Brits for the same offence and sometimes even worse. Again, not surprisingly, Rusedski's foul-mouthed outburst was blamed by a section of the Brit media for being a Canadian by birth and a Brit by naturalisation. In short, he wasn't born British and so couldn't possibly have the famed Brit reserve.

The same media when he is playing well and winning, hardly ever mentions his origins, but if he falters or behaves badly, then of course he is Canadian. The Brit No. 1 Tim Henman may be a model of good behaviour now, but in his early days he also was very unpopular when he hit a ball-girl during his match. It took a long time for him to overcome that and it was only after he started being a serious candidate to win the Singles that the media forgave him.

Andre Agassi also was a reviled figure in England when he declined to participate in the All-England Open Championships during his brash days and when he did come, he made sure that he was dressed properly and made all the right noises at press conferences and is now a favourite at the championships.

Pretty much the same story is David Beckham's. He was England's most hated public figure after he was sent off in the 1998 World Cup soccer game against arch-rivals Argentina and which England went on to lose. It needed plenty of fluff from his spin-doctors to turn him into the world famous figure he is now. The marriage to a pop-singer also helped and today, thanks to all that marketing and satellite television, he is one of the most recognised faces in the world, though there are far more superior players than him in the soccer arena. Why, the current generation even believes he is greater than `Pele'! That tells you a lot about how effective good PR is.

Amazingly, there's one sportsman whom the Brit media took to heart for crying, and that was Paul Gascoigne who cried when England were knocked out of the World Cup in 1994. For that one single act, Gascoigne became more popular than for his soccer skills which again were hardly comparable to those of the South Americans.

Funny, some of these Brit press guys certainly are, for they like their players crying but find the same emotion in a foreigner unpalatable. Makes you wonder why the world takes them seriously, isn't it?