To be truly dominant in your sport must be an incredible feeling. The Jordan’s, Gretzky’s, Jeter’s and Montana’s of the sporting world must feel great looking back at their legacy of accomplishments and excellence. Although they were only one (arguably the largest one) member of a team sport, they are known as some of the best in their game. They were respectful, talented leaders and won several championships to solidify their winning reputation. No matter what happens off the field to them, they will always have their playing record to shut down any personality vs. success arguments.
America loves the underdogs, but relishes the dynasties. We have never had kings or queens and therefore celebrities have become our royalty. Some may be the actors or politicians that appear larger than life with their gifts of speech or propriety, but athletes seem to be the most heralded due to their tangible and obvious skills inducing our collective envy. Few boys grow up dreaming of success in the political arena. Those that do most certainly live out Thoreau’s adage of life in quiet desperation. For what can be more desperate than the ingratiating compliance of politics. Many more envision hitting the 9th inning home run or throwing the 2-minute drill bomb pass. Sports create a world where fantasy becomes reality. Those same dreams may not become fully realized unless you consider the reason why we watch those sports—to imagine we are the ones in the athlete’s shoes.
We watch and cheer for our home team. We watch and cheer for our favorite players, smiling with them as the confetti falls over the field while they thank God and pick up their tiny offspring in a climactic crescendo of completion.
Recently, we saw two of the most dominant athletes of the modern era in individual sports compete. Roger Federer and Anderson Silva had titles on the line this weekend. Roger reclaimed the number 1 seed and his 7th Wimbledon championship in four sets after losing the first to a charged up Andy Murray. Silva defended his belt for the 10th consecutive time by shoving his fists and knees into the bile-spewing mouth of Chael Sonnen before a referee stoppage in the 2nd round. Both matches, I felt, were overhyped and anti-climactic, seeing as how they were viewed as a chance for a changing of the guard for a new champion. The fact is, they are the best and they showed it. There will come a time when they will lose or simply retire on top, cascading away into the unimaginable, shadowy realm of distinction that us mortals only imagine. There will come a new batch of silver armed, fuzzy green ball whackers or pugnacious pugilists, and they will inevitably be compared to those who came before them. But until then, we have our champions. Federer and Silva are never to be underestimated and never to be equaled. All things are debatable, but can you argue with the results? The Swiss master has 17 Grand Slam wins and a myriad of other records. The Brazilian spider has never lost in the octagon. They are the pure essence of domination and we were all privy to their reign.
I have enjoyed watching the perfectly placed forehands of Federer right down the line, as well as the perfectly placed fists of Silva to his opponents’ foreheads. It’s a great pleasure to see such talent on display. It’s a testament to their hard work and a lifetime of refining ones talent. We can all aspire to their greatness in our own professions. I like to think of myself as giving backhands of knowledge and flying knees of wisdom to the younglings’ domepieces. But in all probability, they’re more like misplaced lobs and sloppy jabs of education. Nevertheless, we beat on, boats against the current.