Here's what Peter Bodo has to say....
Honest Politician Alert!
Posted 3/1/2006 @ 12:31 PM
Andy Roddick’s withdrawal from The Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas disappointed many fans, caused some to roll their eyes (“It’s only February, for gosh sakes!”), and others to arch their eyebrows when they absorbed Andy’s honest (if not entirely satisfying)confession that he was pulling out because of simple “fatigue.”
I like Andy, but I have to admit that my Inner Truth Seeker jumped up, punched the air, and said, “Yes!” when I read this story in The Las Vegas Sun.
Good thing Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman isn't worried about selling tickets. Or refunding them. Just as predictable, hizzoner wasn't bashful about saying what was on his mind, and he didn't whisper it off the record behind closed doors in the player's lounge.
Grabbing the microphone at the official tournament draw Saturday, Mayor Goodman basically called Roddick a phony who reneged on his word. Then he said the real reason Roddick bailed on the TCO was because Lleyton Hewitt was going to kick his rear end. (He actually said "rear end'' too, although it took all his restraint not to use the real word in front of the genteel country club types.)
I like it when people have the guts to say what they really think, and I also like it when people hold tennis players accountable for their actions in an era characterized by rampant greed, ethical ambiguity, and an increasing sense that tennis players, like celebrities in general, are out of touch with the covenant they make with fans. Celebs today have figured out that as long as they keep finding ways to stay in the public eye, they can do—or not do—anything they want. I’ve written about this before, calling it the Caligula Complex.
Ironically, Andy always struck me as one of the more responsible athletes in this regard. It's unfortunate that he was the one who led a stand-up guy like Mayor Goodman to pop up on our radar. But these days, you’ve got to take your up-front and honest folks wherever you can find them, especially among politicians!
My take on the Andy issue: If it was just fatigue, it was wrong for Andy to pull out. However, I respect him for having the decency to be honest about it, instead of cooking up some phony-baloney injury in a cheap attempt to have it both ways: get out of a tournament commitment, yet not anger or alienate the fan base.
I say it often, but I can’t say it enough. Few of the actual “crimes” tennis players commit against the game are as bad as the hypocrisy players practice in trying to cover them up. If you hated Jimmy Connors for everything else, you had to love him for being man enough to say: “I do the crime, I do the time.”
At the same time, I imagine that the fatigue Roddick cites is metaphorical as well as literal. He must be tired of the relentless speculation about his coaching upheavals, the wisdom of the apparent “catch Roger” strategy that seems to have been driving his approach to tennis for almost two years, and the spate of recent losses that can be traced back to the disastrous Gilles Muller loss at the U.S. Open.
I get the feeling that Andy is experiencing some turmoil and is looking to buy a little time in an effort to regroup and get things back under control. This may be a defining moment in his career: a time when he rethinks his entire program and either finds a way to punch back up to take his place among a Big Four (Federer, Nadal, Safin, Roddick), or a time when he accepts a not entirely horrific fate as the King of the Second Tier.