The Busted Racquet interview: Andre Agassi
By Chris Chase
Busted Racquet recently spoke on the phone with Andre Agassi, the eight-time Grand Slam champion, Olympic gold medalist and soon-to-be Hall of Famer.
Agassi sounded as relaxed and introspective as always, but managed a stray swipe at Pete Sampras when discussing their recent exhibition match, which Sampras won with ease. We also disussed the state of American tennis, Michelle Obama and, most importantly, whether he spells it "racket" or "racquet."
Busted Racquet: How's your back holding up after Monday?
Andre Agassi: Not ideal. I asked Pete to be a little sensitive with him breaking off serves left and right and jerking me around the court, but he thought it was more important to get his aces and do his drop shots and make me look my age. As a result, I'm still recovering [laughs].
BR: What was your preparation for this match and the other exhibitions you play?
Agassi: It's a good question, it's different than it ever used to be. It used to be that I could start and build to it every day and now you have to really be careful that you don't go over that line and set yourself back a week. It's something that shouldn't be done. I would stagger my practices because going hard is pretty comfortable but recovery is the big question mark. Going too hard sometimes or going too close back to back in practice has sometimes led to some issues for me heading into the match. I would say I was playing about two to three times per week, which is enough for me to hit the ball clean. And I was doing a lot or cardio work through high-intense weightlifting, low weights, heavy reps and some more non-impact stuff.
BR: Both you and Sampras said before the match that it was all for fun and clearly not like the old days. I don't know if you saw it, but at the end of the clip, ESPN showed Sampras saying that even though it's not the same, he still wanted to "kick his [expletive]." Did you have the same mentality?
Agassi: No, I wouldn't say I subscribe to the last comment. I really don't think about Pete very often so the idea of doing something to him isn't really it [laughs]. For me it's about the 19,000 people that are there, and entertaining them. Tennis is a sport where you don't have to be good, you just have to be better than your opponent, so when you have two opponents that are close in abilities it can be a very entertaining match. My goal is to do my best to keep it there. Pete certainly is more capable than me on the court these days and the quality of that entertainment was solely in his hands.
BR: During the changeovers of the match, you both were looking up at the highlights being played on the Jumbotron at Madison Square Garden. Besides the neon, what catches your eye from those old clips?
Agassi: I couldn't believe how good I was in my prime [laughs]. The first thing that crossed my mind was how well I moved. I played until I was 36 years old, so I don't have a clear recollection of the court coverage I used to have, even in my mid-20s. Even getting to the finals of the U.S. Open when I was 35, I'm out there negotiating and cutting corners and avoiding the defense, because that can expose the half-step that you've lost over the years. So it's really been a long time for me in feeling or recognizing how well I could cover the court when I was at my best. When I looked up, I was sort of taken by the actual court coverage. The quality of shots is not something that's far from my recollection, especially when I hit the ball in the right spot. But the movement is a huge issue and I was amazed looking back.
BR: When you look at those old clips, do you have a good recall of the points? In your book, "Open," you appeared to be able to put yourself back in the moment pretty well.
Agassi: You lived it and it meant the world to you. I can't say every point, because a lot of points blend into the others in hindsight, but there are those moments when you knew what you were feeling and they tend to be less about points and more about the emotional state of where you were. Whether it was trying to put away the match in the fourth set and losing and having to go five, or Pete trying to put away that third or fourth set and you getting over that hump and hitting that shot, knowing that when you hit that passing shot that the fifth set was yours because he was running out of steam. You remember the emotions of all that more than you remember specific points.
BR: You mentioned the 19,000 people at the Garden. It got me thinking, could anyone besides you and Sampras sell out the Garden right now? Even Federer-Nadal?
Agassi: I would hope so. My instinct would be to believe that. I would pay to go watch Nadal and Federer play, certainly at the Garden. It's a venue that's added to all our lives in one way or another and to have tennis come back to the Garden was appealing to New Yorkers. There's an additional component to what Pete and I had because both of us said goodbye to the sport in New York. To come back and play again in the Garden had another layer of story to it. But Federer and Pete played three years and sold it out, or it appeared that way on TV, and I'd imagine that to see Nadal and Federer compete there would be quite an evening.
BR: Currently there are six Americans in the top 100 of the ATP rankings. In 1989 there was six Americans in the top 10, you being one of them. What's happened to American tennis and can it recover?
Agassi: A lot has happened. It's become so globally competitive, and Federer and Nadal have absolutely snuffed out any leftovers as it relates to Grand Slams over the last six years. I think Americans are spoiled with the generation we came off of in the sport. We had a lot of Grand Slam titles between Mac, Connors, myself, Pete, Courier, Chang. There was a lot of titles, a hard standard to live up to. Roddick came and I believe he was on the verge of doing the same thing that we did but he ran into the generation of Nadal and Federer. Quite honestly, I think the same thing would have happened to me and Pete. I think those two guys have raised the bar in a way that tennis hadn't seen yet and as a result there wasn't much left for anyone else. But the gap is starting to close, getting a racquet in more young kids hands I think will give us a say into more Slams in the next generation. That always does change and it tends to shift from country to country. My hope is that our grassroots effort will change that.
BR: Speaking of the young kids, you just filmed a PSA with first lady Michelle Obama and your wife, Steffi Graf. First question, how did you draw the short end of the stick and have to be the one crouching at the net as a ballboy instead of standing back in the court looking relaxed.
Agassi: [Laughs] Thank you for noticing how uncomfortable I was.
BR: Yeah, you're the one with the bad back!
Agassi: You know, when the first lady is in the house, you don't argue with anybody, including the director. I just tried to get in the position that was most comfortable for me. If it's for the good of the game, for the health of our young kids across this country, it was worth it. But I'd have much preferred standing, even though that's not all that great for my back either.
BR: What do you think about the new lines for the 10 and unders? On some level, I like how it shrinks the court for smaller kids but on the other hand, can you imagine yourself hitting those 2,500 balls per day from your dad's ball machine on a smaller court?
Agassi: No, but here's the good news: You can have your cake and eat it too. You can always play up. My dad could have always put that ball machine on the big court. There's always a way for a 7-year-old to play a 12-year-old in tennis. We're not taking away the right, we're adding a dimension that allows for kids to learn the game and become attracted to the game without being intimidated by it. That wouldn't have affected me. I still would have been out there hitting 2,500 balls a day. You gotta remember, and don't quote me on the statistic, but if I'm not mistaken, Venus and Serena's father didn't let them compete in even one junior tournament, and if he did it was very, very few of them. You can go your whole childhood working on your game and developing it, honing your skills. Ten and under tennis doesn't preclude you from doing that and picking up the normal size racquet or going on the normal-sized court. This allows children to practice the game and develop fundamentals but it also gives parents an opportunity to play with their child. Before this program, you had to play tennis in order to teach your child tennis. Now, all of a sudden, you can go hit balls and spend that quality time. I think it's all upside.
BR: Last question because I know you're in a hurry. Our blog name is Busted Racquet, spelled with a "Q." How do you like your racquet? With a "K" or with a "Q?"
Agassi: I go back and forth on that, but I think when I just write it myself I lean toward the "Q."
BR: Right. It just looks better. It's more classy. Thanks, Andre.
Agassi will appear in the upcoming video game, Top Spin 4.
What's Andre Agassi been up to since ending his tennis career at the 2006 U.S. Open, exactly? There was that memoir, Open, that became a New York Times number-one best seller, in which he revealed testing positive for methamphetamine, wearing a wig on the court, and that he thought Pete Sampras was "robotic." There are the charitable efforts — the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, the millions of dollars raised for kids' education — and then there's the occasional promoting of a video game, which is what we caught him doing recently for Top Spin 4. Despite being off the court and out of the game, Esquire.com learned during a brief phone conversation that Agassi still very much enjoys hitting hard with his words, whether it's about tennis or his not-at-all strong emotions about the state of American education.
ESQUIRE: …Wait, so do you even play any video games?
ANDRE AGASSI: No.
ESQ: But this can't be the first video game you've been in, right?
AA: No, but now, it's a bit surreal.
ESQ: Well, yeah. It's in hi-def.
AA: When one's life is so documented in such bold terms, it's a bit startling.
ESQ: Says the guy with the memoir. Yet, I can now use a PS3 controller to move a very, very close approximation of you around my TV, possibly in irresponsible and/or mediocre ways. How's that feel?
AA: It's better than getting me to run around a tennis court.
ESQ: Is PS3 Andre Agassi a better tennis player than The Real McCoy?
AA: You can move me around the screen a lot faster than I can move around a tennis court these days.
ESQ: That doesn't hurt the ego?
AA: It's hopefully an entry point into creating some level of interest in the sport, and giving kids the chance to play with the level of strategy and the level of attention to what goes into structuring a point.
ESQ: From your mouth to god's ears, though the transition from couch to court might be rough. You're in Vegas right now, right?
AA: I am. I live here.
ESQ: I grew up there. I used to play tennis at the Spanish Oaks courts.
AA: With Mr. Kellogg there, huh?
ESQ: Yeah. He was the instructor.
AA: Is that right? Did you keep up the sport?
ESQ: I wasn't great at it. I enjoyed hitting the ball too hard. You know, they have all those hills in Spanish Oaks? So they'd go flying over the gate and I'd have to chase them down the hill.
AA: I hate it when that happens.
ESQ: So did I. 'Strange time to be in Las Vegas though, right? How've you seen it change?
AA: Dramatically. We've been living in some pretty tough times in the city. It grew so fast, obviously, it's going to be the last to recover [from the recession]. But the city's so small, in a certain respect. It's still a city where you feel like those that live here know each other, and can count on each other. It's a community that's grown to stand together.
ESQ: Well, it's trying to survive.
AA: Yeah, no question. It's a city in the desert. If you can imagine what it takes to build what we've built here, it takes dreamers, believers, people who can stand shoulder to shoulder to do the impossible.
ESQ: Like building a pirate themed resort-casino. And speaking of impossible: How're you enjoying watching the game instead of playing it? Is there anything that impresses you or excites you about it anymore?
AA: When you take the kind of spin these guys are playing with now and the kind of control they have, you might as well change the dimension of a court, and once you change the dimension of a court, you now actually fundamentally change the game, because different rules apply. When I watch it now, I spend so much of my energy just trying to understand what rules they're actually playing by. It's pretty amazing. But the best part of it is I don't have to do that anymore.
ESQ: What about the experience of writing Open? It's been a little over a year now, it's in paperback, everyone knows you wore a wig and did meth. Given the opportunity, would you do it again?
AA: I would. I wrote that book, and then decided if the world would be better off for having it. And the answer was very clear: This is a story that needs to be told. If this book has an ability to impact anybody, and the byproducts are certain people saying certain things who don't even read the book, then that's an easy price to pay.
ESQ: As someone who earned a living volleying things to people, don't you want to smack whatever negative things or misinterpretations people had over the book back in their faces?
AA: No. In a sense, the game of life doesn't work that way. When somebody reacts [like that], they're usually just communicating a function of who they're not or who they wish they were or their own insecurity. They're communicating themselves in a way that ultimately one wouldn't be proud of, because it's not an educated response.
ESQ: So, no more tennis, no books left, no video games. What's Andre Agassi do with his time?
AA: I want to scale my charter school. I want to figure out a way to shorten the lines. I have 650 kids in my school, over a thousand on the waiting list. There are over 3,000 kids in New York on the waiting list.
ESQ: What's the challenge in fixing that? The politics of education?
AA: Political would be a fair way to put it. We need to rethink our educational system as a whole, because there's no question it's broken.
ESQ: You recently told one interviewer that you were a registered Independent. Is there any politician or movement or initiative that could help you break through the obstacles your schools face?
AA: Yeah, I think we should figure out a way to create a children's union.
ESQ: We should unionize kids?
AA: If we had a children's union, you'd be surprised how much could get done. If everybody thought of what's actually best for our kids, not what's best for own agendas, I think we all would make different decisions as it relates to politicians, as it relates to unions, as it relates to capitalists, to society in general. Thinking about our future in every decision and every vote and every decision we make, is what we are obligated to do. They don't have a voice. Making decisions that don't consider our future is a crime against us. The one area that is of vital importance is education. It's at the root of every problem with have.
Agassi to return to Champions Series in September 2011
By Steve Carp
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL Posted: May 3, 2011 | 2:17 p.m.
Andre Agassi has enjoyed the experience of being a father to his two children. But he also has missed entertaining tennis fans since retiring in 2006.
Now the Las Vegas legend will be able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Agassi will participate in the revamped Champions Series Tour this fall and he won't have to spend extended time away from his wife, Steffi, son Jaden and daughter Jaz.
"This allows me to balance being a parent and being able to still play," Agassi said Tuesday on a conference call with Jim Courier as the official announcement of the 12-stop tour was made. "I don't have to be away from home as much, and that's a good thing."
Agassi, who turned 41 on Friday, has committed to playing in seven of the 12 events. Agassi, Courier, Pete Sampras and former Henderson resident Michael Chang will compete in Las Vegas on Oct. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center. The tour begins Sept. 22 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and wraps up Oct. 22 in Buffalo, N.Y.
The format will consist of four players competing in two one-set semifinals with the winners meeting in an eight-game pro-set final. Players receive points based on their performance, and there is $1 million in prize money to be shared by the top three finishers in the cumulative point standings. Other former stars scheduled to play are John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Mats Wilander. Combined, the seven tour participants have won 52 Grand Slam singles titles.
Agassi, who will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 9, said the tour's format and participants made it attractive to him.
"One of the upsides of this particular series is it allows me time to get my body used to it," said Agassi, who battled back problems late in his career. "The other thing that makes it attractive is getting back together with the guys. I missed that part."
Agassi got a taste of what the tour will be like when he faced Sampras in an exhibition match Feb. 28 at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York. Although he lost in straight sets, Agassi thought he still could compete at a high level.
"Playing Pete has always pushed my buttons and has motivated me to push myself," Agassi said. "That night definitely had some influence on my decision. But it's also an opportunity to give back to the game and maybe get more rackets in the hands of kids."
In addition to Las Vegas, Agassi is scheduled to play in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Chicago.
"It'll be a lot like going to an NBA or NHL game," Courier said. "There'll be a high level of energy and entertainment inside the arena."
Tickets for the Las Vegas stop are $35 and will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday at the Thomas & Mack box office and online at unlvtickets.com.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at [email protected] or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.
Over three decades, from Berkeley to Vegas to Munich, Inside Tennis has interviewed Andre Agassi many times. On the eve of his induction into the International Hall of Fame, we wanted to chat with him about his perspectives. Agassi asked IT Editor Bill Simons to send him his questions. He did. Here are his answers.
INSIDE TENNIS: When all is said and done, how do you want to be remembered?
ANDRE AGASSI: Life is so, so short. If we want to be remembered well in the future, here are questions we should ask ourselves in the present. Did I leave the world a better place? Did I create more than I consumed? Was I grateful for every day I was given? Did I do enough for the next generation? Will the things I built continue to produce results, long after I’m gone? I’m not concerned about my legacy, but if I can say yes to those questions at the end of my life, that’s all I need.
IT: You said, ‘I can live with losing. I can’t live without taking my chances.’
AA: My DNA is hardwired to take calculated and educated risks. I’ll take my time when I need to assess and choose a direction, but once I choose it, I go hard. My process has always been all or nothing.
IT: Life after the ATP is a whole different kettle of fish. What do you miss the most – the thrill of winning, the challenge, the adrenaline? What has surprised you the most? What have you learned?
AA: For me, everyday life provides me the opportunity to feel all of those emotions. Now that I can engage full time with my Foundation and the additional work of building new schools in inner cities throughout America, my adrenaline level is at an all time high. I hope my future will have a much more profound impact on the world than my past. I don’t miss playing and the physical and emotional toll it takes to play at a high level, but I do miss the people. Tennis produces some of the great people of the world, and I was fortunate to be in the mix with them. It was also a privilege to meet such a diverse group of people from country to country. Our cultures are so different, but our struggles and dreams are so similar.
IT: You said that your life is a fight for peace. How is it going now?
AA: Peace, for me, is not the absence of troubles or anxiety, it is an action word. It means I am living the life I am meant to live. I’m at peace when my everyday actions reflect my values. Peace is when I can look at my work, my family, my friends, and say, “This is where I’m supposed to be, and this is who I am supposed to be.”
IT: You’ve run all those dunes in Vegas, you had to play a challenging backcourt at UNLV by a chain-linked fence, you faced tens of thousands of hostile people while playing Davis Cup. Which of these was toughest?
AA: None of the above. I am my own harshest critic. No one will ever be harder on me, than me.
IT: How did all this compare with facing your demons?
AA: We all start out a bit lost, trying to find our way. Our rebellions and outer struggles that are visible to others often mask the more serious search for truth, motivation, direction and authenticity that takes place inside. My way is to face things head on, the sooner the better, which can inflict a lot of pain, but I can’t approach life any other way. Face it, call it what it is, and grow. The reward is on the other side of pain.
IT: Shortly you’ll be going into International Tennis Hall of Fame. What does that mean to you.
AA: The Hall is special because it connects the past, present and future. We remember and celebrate our past champions, and their memory is kept alive at the Hall. It also preserves the sport for future generations and keeps the continuity of the sport alive. Also, it truly is an International Hall, and so few sports are international. Tennis though, belongs to the whole world. Becoming a member of such a hallowed organization is humbling. Being in the Hall alongside my wife is a true honor.
IT: If you could gather around a table of four to talk about life or tennis, what three other people would you have join you among those who are already in the Hall of Fame?
AA: Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King. Both were champions in their careers but they also used their platforms to change the world. They became champions for millions of those whose rights were being suppressed and those that had no voice.
IT: If you had to select just two or three of your favorite memories what would they be?
AA: First, when Stefanie said yes. Second, feeling the love from the fans at the U.S. Open when I retired, and being able to tell them how much I love and appreciate them.
IT: How have your thoughts on Pete Sampras evolved over the years?
AA: My take on Pete is more of a flat line, than an evolution. We’re different players, different people, and we come from different worlds. That’s one of the reasons it was such a compelling rivalry. He was dominant and one of the greats of the game. I regret that I still don’t know him well enough off the court to have an opinion.
IT: What’s your read on Roger Federer?
AA: First, he’s a friend, and a good soul. He’s a true gentleman of the game. He is great for tennis and I would argue with those who are counting him out so early. Never underestimate Fed. He has a lot of great tennis left in him.
IT: Without revealing too much, can you talk to us about how your relationship with Stefanie has evolved and grown. Could you ever imagine it would be this good?
AA: How much time do you have? How much space can I take. To be able to say that the greatest person I have ever known is also my wife and the mother of my children makes me incredibly grateful.
IT: Your book had an incredible impact. How would you say it touched people’s lives? Are you glad you did it? Any regrets? What’s the most surprising reaction to the book?
AA: I wanted to connect with people on a deeper level than I could with my tennis. I want them to believe, to dream, to take ownership of their life. My story reveals a dramatic fall, in terms of tennis and life. The question becomes, what do you do when you lose hope? Where do you reach for inspiration to rebuild a shattered life? Hopefully readers will grasp that regardless of how far they have fallen in life’s rankings, they can have hope. Life is full of second, third and fourth chances, if we are determined to take them. As for the biggest surprise, it is strange to me how many people felt comfortable having an opinion about the book that actually never read it.
IT: There is something very magical about the game of tennis. It’s not just that it’s for boys and girls; that you can play in Bali or Brooklyn; that its a recreational and a spectator sport; or that you can play when you’re eight or 80. But our sport develops and expresses character, and reflects life and its messy wonders more than any other. What makes our game so special?
AA: First, it’s not a team sport. There is no one to turn to and nowhere to hide. You rise and fall by your own wits, just like life. I mention in my book how tennis even uses the language of life, words like love, serve, break and fault. A point becomes a game, which becomes a match, which becomes a career. In the same way, a day becomes a week, which becomes a year, which becomes a life.
IT: After your U.S. Open match with James Blake, Bill Dwyre wrote, “It will be 120 years before we see another match like that.” Comment.
AA: It’s usually a bad thing when you have a moment or event that you will never forget where you were when it happened, but in this case it was surreal and beautiful. Anyone who saw that match will probably never forget it, which says something about the beauty of competition, and how a sport can produce such a special experience.
IT: Yannick Noah once said thinking about winning is a disease I don’t want anymore. Please comment.
AA: I can say that the pain of losing is stronger than the joy of winning, so you have to get untangled from that equation. During my career, I never allowed tennis to be my life, and winning to be the driving force of my life. Tennis was my work, and a platform to give back, but it was never a substitute for my full passion for living. That’s why I feel so comfortable after retirement, because I used tennis as practice for life.
IT: What was it like for you and Stefanie to do the Get Moving ad with Michelle Obama?
AA: She was wonderful to work with. She radiates class and grace. We support her mission of creating a healthier young generation. Stefanie and I have reaped the benefits of sports and fitness our whole lives, and it is important that we raise our two children the same way. Being healthy and fit pays enormous dividends; it provides confidence and healthy thinking. Active children develop habits, discipline and relationships that will serve them well for life.
IT: Noah said you can make a difference, we can make things better together if you change one person, one mind, one idea.
AA: True. We can help get a life back on course, and I believe the earlier you stop that downward spiral, the more profound the impact you can have. That is our ‘reason for being’ at the Agassi Foundation for Education. Equipping a young person with a complete education and preparing them to succeed in college and in their career, are the most important tools we can offer. It costs three times as much money to incarcerate a man than to educate a boy. That’s why our focus is on giving tools of hope to children.
IT: You’ve talked about the importance of heroes in society as a way to measure ourselves, and you said that a hero teaches you that it can happen. Outside of your family, who are your heroes?
AA: By group, I would say, great teachers. They serve our children; they nourish and inspire them, they empower young impressionable minds. Think of how one great teacher can radically alter thousands of lives over the course of a career. Heroic acts are not only happening in the spotlight, they’re happening in a classroom, in a hospital, at an older person’s bedside. They’re happening now, quietly, in Haiti and in Japan. It’s safe to say that my heroes are the unsung heroes.
IT: What’s your favorite success story at the academy?
AA: I’ll give you two bookends. The first is the day we broke ground for the school. I looked out at that vacant lot and imagined thousands of children learning and playing. I could almost hear the laughter and happiness the future would bring to them. The other great memory is of our first graduating class of seniors. Many of our graduates were the first in their families to go to college; some were the first to graduate high school. Every single senior graduated that night, one hundred percent, and all were accepted to college. Just walking the halls of Agassi Prep can be life changing for people. You can see the children being inspired, learning to believe in themselves, and learning to believe that they can have a great future. Success stories are being written there every day.
IT: What are the two things you’ve learned the most relating to education?
AA: Never underestimate a child’s desire to learn and succeed. Children thrive when met with high expectations. At Agassi Prep, we respect our students enough to expect excellence with no excuses, and our students love us for it. Secondly on the macro level, it is going to take all of us who have an interest in educating our children, to come together. Each of us can do a part, but only by working together can we systemically bring about change. Every time you try to move a lever in education reform, you find a stakeholder attached to it at the other end…
IT: Sometimes letting go is the hardest thing for a parent to do. When does the parent know when he needs to let go?
AA: I don’t see it as a balance of holding on and letting go. I see a balance between protecting them, directing them toward the future, all while holding them accountable for their behavior. As they grow, a trust develops, and as a parent you allow them to make more choices for themselves. I believe a parent should expose their children to as many healthy life choices as possible, and see what resonates with the child. When a child lights up and discovers he has a natural talent or is drawn to something, it is our responsibility to encourage that path and celebrate it. We should help them explore the world, identify their passions and allow them many choices in their young lives, so they can feel ownership of the direction they take in life.
IT: Steve Bellamy said if you put your kids in tennis, they’ll be smarter, happier, healthier, will make more money, have a stable marriage, have more children, live longer and add more to society. What other activity can attest to that?
AA: Those are all great destinations, if only the roads that traveled there were easy. It’s our choices that define our future, and usually a great choice leads to a great outcome. But not always. Life is still messy and unpredictable. So, control what you can control, and hopefully your life will resemble Steve’s profile. Does tennis help? I think so.
IT: Martina Navitilova said the ball doesn’t know I’m 45. Talk about the aging process.
AA: The sentiment is right. In tennis and in life, we are often told, either you’re too old, or it’s too late. I respect age, my body has forced me to respect it, but my future and my accomplishments will not be defined by a number. With age comes experience, and the ability to see circumstances in context. Use your age as an asset; never stop believing in your future.
IT: Rafa Nadal said, “Work with humility and never make do with what you’ve got. Always want more.”
AA: My trainer taught me: every day, just be one day better. You don’t need to be two days better and you can’t be satisfied with being no days better, just one day.
IT: In terms of American education, what should be our first priority?
AA: Teachers are the key. Studies show that the teacher is the single most important component in a student’s success…Often teachers come well-trained in core curriculum, but virtually untrained to deal with discipline problems, language barriers, students with disabilities, and real world classroom management. By reforming how we teach our teachers, we will have better outcomes. Next, we need a way to identify our great teachers. We treat good teachers and underperforming teachers the same…I believe in reform that compels us to measure teacher effectiveness, which can then lead to better training for those who underperform…The sooner we can identify good teachers, the sooner we can replicate their success.
IT: Esquire’s Chuck Klosterman theorized, “The reason I need sports in my life is that it’s the only aspect of my existence that I understand completely. It’s the only subject that fills me with confidence and gets any sense of control…I don’t really understand any subtexts of Moby Dick, every woman I’ve known has completely baffled me, but if I meet a stranger in an airport bar…I can talk to this dude…Sport is the only medium that millions of Americans comprehend. It is the only subject that allows us to see or at least feel the truth.”
AA: It’s true of sports, and it’s also true of music, science, and any kind of learning and creativity. The key is not just sports, it is a passion for life, and how, in tapping that passion, by calling on it for everything we do, we find fulfillment.
Putting my very special car up for auction at Amelia Island in March. You can find all the details here:
Bonhams : 1989 PORSCHE 930S TURBO SLANT NOSE CABRIOLETVIN. WPOEB0935KS070209Engine no. 68K00384 (M930/68)
This Porsche was ordered new by Andre Agassi in 1989. I have the original dealer...