Thursday, July 10, 2008

Celebration of Sport

It is truly magnificent in these modern days, bogged down with countless concerns outside the game itself, that a match can just be great because of what has transpired on the field of play.

As this week has progressed I couldn’t shake the Wimbledon Finals from my mind. I thought initially it had a lot to due with the instant classic I witnessed on Sunday, but then thinking it over I actually feel it was because this was nothing short of a shining beacon of light in an otherwise predictable and redundant world of sports. There was no perfect domination by the most dominant player, no Cinderella Story win in dramatic fashion, and beyond a slight mid-match injury no heroic return to claim victory either. Just two elite athletes in an epic showdown, and for that reason it was something truly fantastic to watch.

There’s been a lot of talk over the past few days of how this match may have single-handedly resurrected the game in far off distant lands where the game is not truly embraced like…North America. But the reason for this resurrection is why this event is so great, because the celebration is thanks to really nothing more than sport in its purest form: the performance of its athletes. And debate what you will over that performance - some have mentioned the conditions in favour of Nadal, and of course that whole matter of whether or not either player could even see the ball at the end of the match. Regardless, it was still the play on the court, the amazing rallies and fantastic shots each player produced, that intrigued the world, and that caught everyone’s attention.

There were interesting storylines, suiting of a Final held at the hallowed All England Club. The Williams sisters brought back the carnival that surrounds them every time they play together in a Major finale, and obviously there was the continuation of the Roger Federer-Raphael Nadal saga. But in the end the stories played second fiddle to the action that unfolded on the courts – even the Williams sisters behaved, that match appearing to be more of a contest between two athletes than a rigged family Sunday rally.

I see this as one of the more important sporting events in quite a while because it’s a display of sport as just that and nothing more, and making headways in a time where something else is ALWAYS necessary to grab the interest of fans. There was no cultural significance drawing attention here, no feel good sappy story that people followed, nothing more than a clash of the world’s best. And for once a marquee sporting event that finally surpassed all the high expectations that came along with it; in this “hyper-promoted” world of sport this was a Championship worthy of the title.

It’s resurrecting the interest in sport simply through a superior performance prevailing over any and all other factors on that day. Wimbledon was something special this past weekend. The debate is already on over whether or not this was the greatest Tennis match of all time, but it should also be mentioned that this appears to have been a moment where sport could just be enjoyed for nothing more than the game itself, for a welcome change. It just feels right to celebrate such an event, even a few days later, because really these things don’t come around all too often.

No comments: