'Young Guns' - Narcissistic Sportsmen?
I have just read an article 'Narcissism' in a Serbian daily paper 'Danas', written by two psychologists, talking about modern day uprisal of narcissistic personality.
World of sport is also touched and three essential points are made:
1. Initially, sport is a useless game, interesting in itself, with an aim of strengthening the body and the spirit and producing positive feelings in people; players approach theirs game with love and experience satisfaction from the pleasure of playing itself. This is how sports were played until some time in the past. But today such sport almost doesn't exist anymore. A sportsman doesn't practice his skills for owns pleasure and from inner motivation, but regardless of that wants to impress the audiences and goes for sensation and ovations.
2. Genuine winning in sport is about overcoming imagined obstacles which is bringing personal satisfaction to a player. But in modern sport winning more and more doesn't seem to make sense, if the opponent is not destroyed. Players do not want only theirs victory but maybe more the defeat of the opponent. Victory is not so important anymore, but the competing itself and the destruction of the opponent.
3. Rather than towards players, modern sport is turned towards passive spectators who are growingly unaware of the rules of the game. More and more often rules are altered in a way to attract such audiences. Modern sport is subdued to its entertainment value. While people run away from everyday boredom towards sports, what they get is entertainment and sensation. The basic purpose of sport is trivialized, sporting game turned into a trivial act that is being sold as grave matter.
After this article, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic would come out as being excessively narcissistic sportsman. Nadal's and Djokovic's respective games, brutish and uninspiring on theirs own ground, show that the joy of playing is subdued (if existing at all) to some other aims. And that aim mostly seems to be fame and adulation. Both Nadal and Djokovic show extreme sensitiveness on every (perceived) lack of adulation they receive, while being very envious towards the adulation others get. At that, they don't seem to be fully conscious - if conscious at all - of how the adulation is deserved, it is as if they don't see the source of admiration important - the skill and creativity coming from innate gifts and living for the game - but the admiration itself. This is so much emphasized that they seem happy to steal success and admiration - so Nadal doesn't seem troubled by numerous indications that his success is also an outcome of many outside factors and not only his game, neither is Djokovic by lack of ground for his habitual cocky claims.
Also like true narcissistic sportsman they see winning more as a matter of destroying the opponent than overcoming some imagined obstacles of theirs own. They are turned towards marketability and happy to reach towards half-interested audiences - at the place of Nadal this is seen through his on-court antics and emphasis on physical looks, while at the place of Djokovic through his 'impersonations' and outward image selling.
As a contrast, older generation of current players such as Roger Federer are not fitting this narcissistic sportsman frame. From the way Federer plays you see that the love for the game is the main driving force; he is motivated more with his own set aims and imagined obstacles than with destroying opponents, and is not striving to put up a show and become "marketable" but to build and perfect his own playing style. And while many Federer's detractors point out his burgeoning Ego ("Ego King"), this is just a try of blinding with words, in accordance with that aphorism "the world likes to talk, but it's true wishes does not express through words; what's more, through words it tries to hide them". What they actually mind is exactly Fererer's lack of bulging Ego, and probably the main reason for Federer being somewhat unfashionable today is his non- narcissistic appearance - in the age that craves for a narcissistic champion that will reflect it's own nature.
Traits of narcissistic personality include grandiose feeling of over-blown self-importance, expectations of excessive admiration, unreasonable expectation of getting specially good treatment and unquestioned approval of owns wishes, tendencies towards abuse and exploitation of others, fierce envy towards success of others and belief that others feel the same towards owns success, arrogant, conceited behavior and attitudes, and reduced sense of empathy. Modern changes in society that are stimulating this type of personality include promoting bare competitiveness as an aim in itself, deterioration of family, growing ambiguity of sexes and all-present ness of mass-media.
Today, narcissistic personality is more wide-spread than ever and, unlike in recent past, is more common than neurotic problems such as hysteria or obsessive neurosis (that were coming from suppressed sexual drive).
Black and white picture of modern narcissistic and ex-non-narcissistic players can't be formed since every player who ever played has some narcissistic traits, especially in youth (ex. Agassi in his early stage), but newest generation - especially those the most successful until now - show these traits to a new degree. This is contrasted with the other extreme brought by previous generation - a completely ego-less, self-sufficient player such as Roger Federer. So you get almost black-and-white picture: the duel between Roger Federer and his younger rival becomes a duel between a non- narcissistic and narcissistic champion.
Maybe you could say at the end that we don't need these extremes but a balance.? Maybe champions from golden age of tennis, such as McEnroe, Borg, Edberg or Becker were close to that balance?
Grand Slam Season as of 2008:
Right word in the right moment - a glass of watter in the desert.
Last edited by DDrago2; 02-01-2008 at 02:53 AM.