U.S. Rolls Russia; Federer Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year?
by Sean Randall | December 3rd, 2007, 2:40 pm
  • 65 Comments

If you were looking for some edge-of-your-seat tennis excitement this weekend, the U.S. v. Russia Davis Cup final wasn’t it. At least not for me.

Andy Roddick won the opener over a lackluster Dimtry Tursunov in straights. James Blake followed with an impressive four set win over Mikhail Youhzny, and then the Bryans sealed the win defeating Nikolay Davydenko and Igor Andreev for the first US Davis Cup win since 1995.

The ultimately ended up 4-1 in favor the of the U.S., which dropped a dead rubber singles on Sunday.

Credit to the American team for really rolling through the entire tournament, and keeping the squad intact – I believe the U.S. has now fielded the same lineup in their last seven ties, and if they continue and get good luck with the draw (i.e., not having to play anyone on clay), I think they can keep on winning.

By the way, if you don’t live stateside and you are wondering what kind of impact the victory made here in the U.S., it’s very little. With all the football and BCS talk this weekend the win was hardly mentioned in major news outlets. And I bet a very large percentage of the population don’t even know of the victory or what the Davis Cup represents. But that’s a whole different post…

Speaking of the media, it’s that time of the year when Sports Illustrated announces its Sportsman of the Year. We went through this a year ago when the American magazine selected NBA Miami Heat star Dwayne Wade over our Swiss guy, which raised eyebrows a few and a ingnited a mild furor in the tennis/sporting world.

Despite his incredible achievements, Federer has never won the award and in fact has never even graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, the latter being total bunk in my opinion. I know many of you really don’t care about SI or their award (yeah, I know the Laureus is the important one), but I’ll still be interested to see the who gets it.

Again, the odds are against Federer. He’s not American. He plays tennis, which is a second/third tier sport in the U.S. and his face on that cover isn’t going to sell a lot of magazines (always important!). And he may not have that rags-to-riches, heart-warming story. You could also make the case that Federer had a better statistical year in 2006 than he did in 2007, and since he didn’t win it last year how could he win it now?

As for Fed’s his competition there’s no clear cut, runaway choice anymore. In my mind Alex Rodriguez was the leader a month ago but was eliminated after he and his New York Yankees tanked again in the playoffs. NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are certainly still at the top of the list. Both seem to be genuine good, clean all-American guys. Manning of course won the Super Bowl back in February while Brady has been tearing apart the league this season with the New England Patriots.

Also in the running I think are Colts head coach Tony Dungy, the Boston Red Sox team (I can’t seem to pick out an individual player, maybe Josh Beckett), the Florida Gators basketball team, Sidney Crosby from the NHL and Barry Bonds, who set the home run mark this summer.

Heck, I think SI could and maybe should do some sort of “Anti-Sportsman” award with Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Isiah Thomas, Dom Imus, Pacman Jones, the Fed (no, not Federer but the rather the FBI!), etc. Would be fitting but I doubt they’d take that risk.

All that said, I think Federer has a shot. A decent one. I’m starting to think that Brady and Manning will cancel each other out, that leaves Federer, Dungy and I’ll throw in Bonds. Among those final three, Bonds is the easy odd man out when it comes to class, character and other sportsman type qualities, leaving just Federer or Dungy, who are two great, classy and deserving sportsmen.

If you live outside of the U.S. or if you don’t know the Dungy story, it’s a good one. I won’t break it all down here, but he’s a worthy selection, one I’m sure few people would take issue with once you learn his back story.

But I’ll go the other way on this one.

Given that Federer’s never been on the cover of the magazine and given that this may be the last year in which he wins 3+ Slams, a mark that puts him in contention for such an honor, I think SI will give Roger the long overdue nod. Now I wouldn’t hold your breath on this one and I’ve been wrong before on a lot of things, so let’s see how it plays out!


Also Check Out:
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Holiday Tennis-X Viewer Mail
Nadal, Federer Match Land Tennis a Rare Sports Illustrated Cover Nod
Federer, Henin Edged for 2007 AP Athlete of the Year Awards
Novak Djokovic Wins Laureus World Sportsman Of The Year Award [Video]

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65 Comments for U.S. Rolls Russia; Federer Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year?

Bonitto Says:

Mr Dungy is not a sportman he is the coach of the team (COLTS)and SI dont owe Federer a thing.


Alina Says:

I don’t think SI is so important. And its not professional either. Not honoring Federer shows its total failure. Anyway, we in Europe don’t care what SI is producing. Not important at all.


andrea Says:

SI doesn’t even have a tab on their website for hockey – which is the biggest sport in Canada and one of the biggest in Europe – so that immediately reduces their credibility as a sports magazine.

And, as duly noted above, magazines exist only to be sold so the cover stories will reflect sale-ability and nothing else. Even if Roger won the grand slam this year, he would not be on the cover. Tennis is not important enough to that magazine.

Sad but true.

My guess….once Roger breaks Sampras’ record of all time grand slams, then he might get the cover…depending of course on if he demolished the competition the rest of the year….they want too many factors (read: perfection) to even consider Roger…


Von Says:

Sean Randall:

I am sorry you did not find the Davis Cup exciting or worth mentioning in the news. I disagree. Back in September when the U.S. beat Sweden, and the location to hold the event was decided on — Portland — the tickets, 12,000, were sold out in 30 minutes and it was not just the Oregon population. Judging by the sales I would hardly think that we do not have an informed public or nobody cares. But that’s your opinion and you are entitled to it.

Tennis, unfortunately, is not the No. 1 sport in the U.S. and that is understandable why there was not a lot of media coverage. VERSUS televised the matches and I know that they cover a large sport viewing population so, again, I disagree. I also disagree that the U.S. team would not get a win on clay if they were to play on it. They beat the Czech team on clay, the first match of the series. Andy Roddick won both matches.

Regarding the cover of SI, I am sure thatFederer will be selected if not this year, perhaps another. Andy Roddick was on SI in 2003, I think. Federer has a considerable fan population in the U.S., so it’s just a matter of time.


Joe Says:

SI is irrelevant.


FAR Says:

What SI?


Smash Says:

SI is good for wiping after you tear out Wertheim’s tennis pieces.


Brett Favre Says:

SI, thanks for making me the 2007 Sportsman of the Year. It’s truly an honor. Now who’s this Roger Federer fella you guys speak of?


Chris Says:

Does SI deserve a cover with Roger Federer?


张奔斗 Says:

Who doesn’t live stateside even cares about Sports Illustrated? I’m sure Fed doesn’t give a rat’s behind. So let’s put this old and tired topic to rest.


joanne Says:

I wouldn’t read sports Illustrated if it was the only book/magazine on a desert Island.I wouldn’t even use it as toilet paper.I think it lowers Roger Federer’s image to be named sportsman of the year by Sports Illustrated.


Ewing Says:

Federer should have won…consider the following from Rene Stauffer, the author of THE ROGER FEDERER STORY, QUEST FOR PERFECTION….

Rene Stauffer, the Swiss author of The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection (www.rogerfedererbook.com) the first U.S. published book about the Swiss tennis champion, is calling upon Sports Illustrated, the world’s leading sports magazine, to finally come to its senses and name Federer its 2007 “Sportsman of the Year.“

“Roger was voted world sportsman of the year by the high profile Laureus Academy three times in a row and has an excellent chance to earn a fourth recognition next year. No other athlete has ever won more than two,“ said Stauffer. “How can a magazine get to a complete different result than an academy with more than 40 former top athletes and all time greats from all sports?“

Federer has dominated the tennis world for the last four years and is rewriting tennis history in seemingly every tournament he plays. Federer won three Grand Slam tennis tournaments in 2007, placing him with 12 total major titles, in second place all-time, two shy of the record set by Pete Sampras. Other statistics on Federer are as follows;

• Federer has won eight of the last 10 Grand Slam tennis tournaments and has played in a record 10 consecutive Grand Slam finals. He is the first player to ever reach all four Grand Slam finals for two straight years.
• Federer missed capturing the Grand Slam – one of the most difficult sporting achievements in the world – in 2006 and 2007 by only two sets. (two four-set losses to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final)
• In 2007, he was the first man in 27 years to win a Grand Slam tournament without losing a set (Australian Open)
• At Wimbledon in 2007, he equaled the record set by the great Bjorn Borg winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title
• Federer is the first man to win at least three Grand Slams three times in his carreer.
• In 2007, he beat the mark of Jimmy Connors for consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 in the world (160 weeks, now at 200 straight weeks).

“Roger still shows respect for all other athletes, sports and players and fullfills his media and public commitments in a impeccable way,“ said Stauffer. “He is aware of his influence as a role model and has his own foundation that primarily helps poor children in Africa for the last four years.“

Concluded Stauffer, “And how can a magazine not vote for Roger when it wrote the following after the 2007 US Open, ’Roger Federer left little doubt that no one in the world does anything as well as he plays tennis’“


d Says:

Like other posters I’m not American and wouldn’t have a clue what SI was if tennis discussions boards didn’t have this debate about why Federer isn’t voted for every year.

If it’s such a big deal why not have an ‘overseas sportsman of the year’ category in the same that here in England the BBC has it’s ‘Sports Personality’ and ‘Overseas Sports Personality’.


FOT Says:

Rene Stauffer wrote great things and it is an impressive list. Heck, I would have given the award to Roger 4 years ago… BUT, knowing SI like I do, unfortunately, Roger will never win this award. At first it upset me, but then I thought – who really cares what SI thinks any way? They are just trying to sell magazines and we’re constantly giving them free publicity when it’s time for this award by trying to influence their voting for Roger, when, in fact, they have already made up their mind who will win the stupid award anyway.

I say let’s not even mention them any more! We all know who the real Sportsman is anyway!

Tennis is #1 on this site and other tennis sites so regardless of what that magazine thinks – we know Tennis Rocks!!!


jive samba Says:

Sports Illustrated is to sports what Celine Dion is to music.


giometti Says:

SI sucks dick in Brazil.


Kate Says:

Umm Mr. Randall the Davis Cup was on the front of every sports section including the New York Times, The Times online and numerous other sports pages. It even garnered a metion in my local newspaper and I live in Canada where hockey is almost God.

I tink you should rewrite the 4th paragraph or better still go look at some major sports sections in the newspapers.


Dr. Death Says:

Thank Elvis for the blogs. I would not have even known the results of the Davis Cup final otherwise.

I did not know SI was still in business. I guess their swimsuit edition keeps them going every year. Trust everyone checked out Brooklyn Decker who is Roddick’s date these days.

See – even SI is good for something.


lizzy Says:

Is anyone really surprised that Federer wasn’t named SOTY of the year? I’m not. SI will never honor Federer, it’s just not going to happen. It’s become a joke to the point where no one should even care what SI does anymore. Unless it’s football, baseball, or basketball, SI rarely covers it. I doubt Fed cares about SI – the rest of the world has already acknowledged him.

Yeah, the swimsuit issue is really the only SI issue that even sells anymore, and even that has gone downhill lately. SI has really become irrelevant.


Anna Says:

The Davis Cup was exciting to me because the US team has been working for years to try to win this dream title and they finally did it. That alone got me interested in their quest. If you can’t appreciate how emotional and personal the DC win was to them, and how difficult it is for any country to win it, then I guess you just don’t get it and maybe Tennis-X should try hiring people who know something about tennis.

As for Federer not making the cover of SI- who cares?


Glen Janney Says:

Who says 2007 was the last year Fed wins 3 out of 4 Grand Slam tournaments? Because he will win all 4 of them in 2008, maybe. Otherwise, he’s still the best big-match player in tennis history.


penise Says:

I would give it to him when he breaks Pete’s record . . hopefully next year.


Skorocel Says:

I guess Chris’s post dated 4th December 2007 4:32 am says it all…


penise Says:

Best part of the US victory is that we can flush John McEnroe’s little brother now. P Mac SUCKS as a tennis coach. Don’t believe me look at the record. One reason even geeks like me have stopped caring about DC is that the US under PMac have been under achievers for so long. He should be happy with his other nepotism job as a tv commentator and let a real coach handle DC.


DC Says:

SI’s probably waiting for Fed’s Golden Slam next year… A near-impossible feat that would guarantee the cover.


FoT Says:

DC, even if Federer wins a golden slam next year – it’s an olympic year so SI would put someone who won a gold medal for the US on the cover then, and make some team from the US to win a gold medal their SI of the year next year as well.

Actually, I really don’t care what SI does any more. The magazine sucks. I remember when – back in the day – SI use to be a great magazine, full of stories and was a pretty large magazine. Now it’s full of commercial ads, football pictures, and about 1/3 of the size it use to be.


OJ Says:

Why haven’t I been considered?

I swear I’m not guilty!


t.k. Says:

I’m happy ‘Roger Federer’ is not AMERICAN. His character is so nice to everyone that Americans don’t have. Moreover, in my country I cannot get that Idiot Magazine. If I can, it will defenitely use for getting my dog’s shit. Like some guys said, Olympic next year the new sportman of the year for SI is the same ‘AMERICANS!!!’. I’d to thank CNN for interviewing ‘Roger’, from that all you guys can see how awesome ‘Roger’ is. (You can watch it for a couple of days I guess). This is not the first time for CNN to interview ‘Roger’ because I remembered in 2004 it broadcast him after he got the world number one in tennis and had three of four Grandslams that year.


Pami Says:

Roger Federer should be on the cover and he should be sportsman of the year. He embodies what a good sportsman is more than anyone else they ever picked recently.

A woman’s point of view is that Roger is the best and I don’t care a thing about basketball, or football. SI should realize there is a huge untapped market out there who loves tennis as the #1 sport !


kit Says:

First, SI does have a hockey tab on their website. Second, Roddick has never been on the cover. Seriously, why do poster feel the need to lie. And, stop with the antiAmerican nonsense. SI is an American magazine that caters(gasp)to an American audience. Why must people outside the US throw fits about what an American magazine that primarily covers American sports does? Euorpean sports mags don’t recognize athletes in American sports after all. Why the hell would they-they don’t watch American sports. And for American tennis fans, newsflash-the rest of the country doesn’t give a rat’s about tennis. I wish it were different but it’s not. So, For god’s sake stop whining about it. Tennis will never be a top sport in the US. Accept it. It’s like you desperately want validation from SI or something. I’m a huge tennis fan and I accept that my country has the right to prefer other sports. You want better tennis coverage pick up a TennisWeek.


Von Says:

Kit:

I thought Roddick was on SI in 2003. I guess from what you say, I am wrong. I was not lying just misinformed.

I do not care if Federer ever gets on the cover of SI. I am also an American and I feel that the other countries do not care about our athlethes and we certainly have a right to not mention them, cover and all. I referred to SI because the writer of the article seemed perturbed about the fact that Federer would not make the SI cover. That’s all.


dovestones Says:

SI is a magazine!!

Who cares about these superficial awards? They mean absolutely nothing.

The majority of all worlds sports were around a long time before the first newspaper or magazine was published anyway.


naresh Says:

Most other countries dont play the sports that one will find in America like, American Football, Baseball, Ice Hockey etc. Is’nt it funny, in Baseball, the biggest prize is the “World” Series..i guess for most Americans, The United States of America, is the Whole World !

Compare that to Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Pete Sampras, Andy Roddick, Carl Lewis, Maurice Green, Michael Johnson etc . all these guys are world{ie; the whole world..not American World} Famous.

Its got a lot to do with the fact that, all these guys play/played sports, that are internationally played, but even so,these guys have definitely been featured on sports magazines & covers around the world.

America does what America wants, so i’ll be really surprised if i find Fed on the SI cover, but any which way, the “real World”, does’nt really care about it !


no name no place no nothing Says:

\”Anyway, we in Europe don’t care what SI is producing. Not important at all.\”

Right. Because the endless whinging and posting from angry fanboys in Europe every year clearly shows how much you don\’t care.

Some day people \”over there\” will wake up and realize what Americans have known all along: that the sportsman of the year is a superficial award used mostly as a marketing tool to sell more issues of SI. Federer doesn\’t sell anything worthwhile in the US so he will never be on the cover.

\”the biggest prize is the “World” Series..i guess for most Americans, The United States of America, is the Whole World\”

Why do europeans take \”world series\” so literally? Do they not know any better?


no name no place no nothing Says:

\\\\ Best part of the US victory is that we can flush John McEnroe’s little brother now. P Mac SUCKS as a tennis coach. Don’t believe me look at the record. One reason even geeks like me have stopped caring about DC is that the US under PMac have been under achievers for so long. He should be happy with his other nepotism job as a tv commentator and let a real coach handle DC. \\\\

I dont see a whole lot of logic to this post. Patrick McEnroe managed to win DC as coach which his brother John could not do. How does this make PMac a terrible coach? He managed to get one of the best DC teams in the world together and work as a team. Thats not an easy task and he did it beautifully. He is a calming influence on the Americans.


sanjay Says:

Naresh,

Stop with the esentializing. If a promoter decided to call something the “World Series” it isn’t proof that Americans on the whole think the America= the world. Besides, even if we do think this way, isn’t it true pretty much? Let us face it; that’s why there is so much antagonism towards any sign of American self-love.

So yeah, the people outside the U.S. should avoid SI because this was meant for a primarily american male audience, who do love football, basketball, and baseball.


Sean Randall Says:

Maybe the people inside the U.S. should avoid SI, as well!

Having picked up the new SI issue and read the story on 2007 honoree Brett Favre clearly this award/honor is no longer (was it ever?) based on calendar year accomplishments but instead on lifetime achievements.

Favre’s done a lot of good both on and off field during his career, as detailed in the story. And a lifetime sportsman he is, but just for 2007 maybe not.

And now I can see why SI’s John Wertheim wrote what he did about Roger in a column earlier this month, giving his reasons why Federer shouldn’t win the award. Clearly John’s dissapointed by the selection process as well.

No doubt, though, with the Favre selection SI will sell a lot of magazines, far more than had they chosen Federer. Maybe from the profits from Favre’s devoted legion of Packer faithful scooping up multiple copies with their hero on the cover, SI can now send a staffer like Wertheim to Switzerland where he can do a proper full feature cover story on Federer. But again, don’t hold your breath!


FoT Says:

Sean…Amen to your post and to Jon’s over at SI. Just think what he feels like – and he works for the company! Poor Jon…


Dan Martin Says:

Wertheim is a good read. SI on a whole is terrible. Farve? John Madden has a man-crush on him and he was in Something About Mary, but he has not been the man in the NFL for a long time. The NFC stinks and Green Bay just got smacked by Dallas. Brady, Manning and Romo are all better this season and of course Farve’s humanitarian work is nice but not on Roberto Clemente’s level. Federer not getting any pub at SI has to be sort of a sick joke among the editors. I can see not getting the big award, but no cover after Wimbledon due to David Beckham who is a washed up player of a sport that is no more popular than tennis in the U.S.?!?! Maybe if Roger one-uped the Posh-Beckham and started dating Aretha Franklin he’d be on the cover.


grendel Says:

But Beckham was never a great football player, even in his prime. Not bad at free kicks, otherwise, merely something better than average. Why, then, his undeniable fame? The eyes of little boys scrabbling in the dirt of a Yemini village would light up at the name of Beckham. Why? Ah, now there, (as a character from Wodehouse might remark) you have me. One of life’s mysteries.

Doesn’t this ram home the fairly elementary point that fame does not equal quality? Everything is money, where big magazines are concerned, and fame is closely connected to money, quality only haphazardly.

Federer isn’t really famous. That little boy in Yemen would certainly have no idea who he is.


jane Says:

Why, then, his [Beckham's] undeniable fame?

He’s (arguably) handsome; he’s married to a Spice Girl (and media junkie); his name and persona appear in a fairly well-known film (Bend it like…); and he’s in advertisements galore.

Fame? There you have it.

The reality is this: if Federer were better looking and dating a Hollywood actress or a famous “singer”, not to mention if he were the central icon of a film (unlike the prosaic protagonist in the abysmal film “Wimbledon” ) then he’d probably make the SI cover.


naresh Says:

this clearly shows the legitimacy of magazines like SI, does’nt it !


grendel Says:

I have no idea what’s happened – is it my computer gone beserk, or is something up with the blog? My heartfelt apologies to all.

For what it’s worth, my last post (a couple of minutes ago) starts from “jane says….” 3.53 p.m


MMT Says:

I think this says more about Sports Illustrated, American sports fans, and in a very round about way, Americans, than Roger Federer. Sports Illustrated is an American magazine – a business venture trying to sell more magazines, and not an academy of international sportsmen trying to identify the world’s greatest sportsman.

I think it’s perfectly fine for Sports Illustrated to exclude Federer because this award is as much about publicity and what it’s american sports fan readers are interested in, than a kind of cross between popular and intellectual sports recognition (as is the case with Laures).

If SI’s SOTY and the Laureas award had he same purpose, it’d be hard to understand why he didn’t win it in 2004, 2006, or won’t win it 2007.

I guarantee 1 thing – if Federer finds a way to win the grand slam, he’ll be sportman of the year no matter what anyone else does.


grendel Says:

sorry, computer playing silly games with me. I’ll try again.

jane’s explanation for Beckham’s fame won’t work. That little boy in Yemen cares for none of those things she mentions. He has a great free kick from a distance – compare Ronaldo, just as good but, unlike Beckham, a huge football talent generally. Beckham’s fame is outlandish and actually defies analysis. It is without rhyme or reason. He is the second most famous footballer alive – the most famous, Pele, happens to be the greatest footballer of all time (no goat like questions sneak in here) – nothing hard to understand here.

We’re talking myths, fairy tales and religion. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if somewhere there isn’t a shrine to Beckham. Religions often start in these unfathomable ways. SI is just, unconsciously perhaps, paying its own little tribute….


jane Says:

The girl in /Bend it like Beckham/ has just that: a shrine to the lad. Like it or not, media hype even reaches Yemen. And thanks to the WTO and dumping, even Yemenites gets Western TV, often American, which is where the adverts would come in.

And if you want to talk myths, well heroes are larger-than-life, not to mention usually very buff and handsome – Beckham fits the bill again (he even has a little achilles heel in that ridiculous wife of his).

He’s the hero, the god, the footballer, whatever, but media has something to do with his fame, however you slice it.


grendel Says:

what you’re missing is the fact that Beckham is a surprisingly ordinary player. If he is a hero, he is a very odd sort of hero.

The kind of fame which attaches to Beckham would be absurd even were he a very great talent. In that event, your explanations would be appropriate.

As it is, there is a puzzle. Anthropologists should be fascinated. Historians of the future will set up rival schools of thought to try and account for the puzzle.

There may well be a little cult surviving somewhere or other…….


jane Says:

Admittedly, I’m no expert on footballers or anthropology (though I have done a few courses in the field) but to me this point that you make,

“what you’re missing is the fact that Beckham is a surprisingly ordinary player”…

is precisely WHY the media accounts for his fame. He’s the golden god with the helen of troy wife (insert laughter here). He’s ubiquitous; everyone knows whether they watch soccer or not.

I’m a case in point; I’ll watch the odd play off game, and even rally for England, but while I well know who Beckham is, I can’t even name many other players.

Federer may be fabulous, but he’s nowhere near a famous as Beckham, and I still say that’s for the reasons I listed Dec. 10th at 2:21.

I’ll agree with you on this – it is puzzling to a degree why fame trumps talent (even if Beckham is talented he’s no goat, as you said yourself), but such is our society. Don’t even get me started on Paris Hilton.


grendel Says:

No. You’re trying to account for the unaccountable. The idea that the media latches onto a player precisely because he is ordinary (in terms of talent) is absurd. Why is he “the golden god” etc? Nobody knows. You can bring in the Posh factor, the fact that he smiles nicely, and admits to enjoying wearing his wife’s knickers and so forth, and all these things, and half a dozen others no doubt are pointers of a sort. But at the end of the day, they explain little.

This is a bizarre phenomenon which defies reasonable analysis. Fame doesn’t quite “trump talent” by the way. As I said, Pele undoubtedly IS the goat – and he is more famous even than Beckham. Still true, even though he played half a century ago. So reason still sometimes prevails.

By the way, you may not think Federer is goodlooking – you’d be surprised how many women drool over him in worshipful tones that Beckham would recognize. I am not a woman and not (so far as I know) gay. But I find Federer in full flight one of the most glorious sights nature has to offer.


jane Says:

True: fame doesn’t always trump talent (thank god) but in the case here – Fed v Beckham re: fame and talent – it does.

He’s beautiful to look at grendel and a lot of people worship beauty. Studies have shown that even infants appreciate beauty, and they’ve also shown that sometimes good looking folks will be hired over not so handsome ones even when qualifications are equal or even not.

Now – about this comment – “The idea that the media latches onto a player precisely because he is ordinary…is absurd.” This is not what I’ve said; I’ve said Beckham is famous because of his ubiquitousness in the media: sure he’s an okay soccer player, but he’s out there in the world with the movers and shakers, hence he gets written up more, hence he gets more sponsorships, hence he’s more famous.

Nothing is completely unexplainable.


jane Says:

I don’t know who Pele is, and I’ll bet you many other regular people who are not soccer fans don’t either — but I’ll bet you those same people do know who Beckham is.

The guy is like a moth to the flame when it comes to the spotlight, as is his wife; that may explain their recent move to LA, la-la land incarnate.

I know quite a few women who watch tennis and none of them “drool” over Federer, but of course some will. Different strokes and all.


grendel Says:

Football – what North Americans call soccer – is the sport of the world. The whole world – outside of north America – has heard of Pele. He’s not just the most famous footballer of the world, he’s the most famous sportsman of the world – ever.And therefore, by definition, one of the most famous people, perhaps the most famous. But as always, we have to exclude here North America – which, in terms of sport, is quite incredibly insular. The Americans DO play tennis, which is quite popular in the world – but of course in America, it barely registers I gather.

“Beckham is famous because of his ubiquitousness in the media” – there would be no problem with this remark normally. It is certainly true that he is a darling of the media. But the point is, Beckham is not famous in the normal way. His megastardom, even among some football fans, is unintelligible. “Beauty” is irrelevant – in the sense that Beckham is not unusual in this respect. He has charisma – so do plenty of his betters. Etc.

“Nothing is completely unexplainable”. Well, of course the word “completely” is your get out clause here. No doubt something can always be said about anything. Nevertheless, some things are essentially beyond explanation. In science, this happens all the time obviously. But fame is a good one. Consider The Beatles – noone forsaw their insane popularity, and nobody really understands it, although there are plenty of theories (of which their being gifted musicians ranks pretty low). The media of course latched onto the Beatles instantly – but only after the phenomenon they represented became apparant. i.e. the media emphatically did not create the Beatles – they were parasitic upon them, with enthusiastic cooperation from the Beatles themselves, of course. It’s perhaps a little more complicated with Beckham. Dunno – it’s a mystery.

Naturally your friends don’t drool over Federer, Jane. That’s called anecdotal. He does seem to attract irrational devotion among some women. Of course, I don’t count myself amongst these. I am purely objective (it goes without saying) when I say that as an athletic animal, he is about as magnificently graceful as it is possible to get. I think of a wild leopard, intent upon its prey….


jane Says:

I realize soccer / football is world famous, but it’s not, really, in Canada, except during World Cup play offs, when people suddenly become very patriotic (in the ex-pat sense), waving flags from their “homelands”, so that may be why I’d not heard of Pele. It’s like tennis, which is also much more popular in most countries than here.

Maybe the media point – in relation to Beckham’s fame – is true particularly in North America, where the media does make and break people. That may also be why, besides the fact that soccer is not big here, I know of Beckham but not Pele. He’s plastered throughout the media here.

Re: the Beatles – of course there are theories; maybe one is the time and place, something about filling a historical niche. Just like Nirvana did. But that’s a whole other ball of wax.

Mystery or not, fame sticks to some more than others. And there are theories, if not black and white answers, as to why.

Over and out.


so there Says:

… this clearly shows the legitimacy of magazines like SI, does’nt it ! …

here in the u.s. sports illustrated is a very legit sports publication. it doesnt matter what the rest of the world thinks of it (or us) because it is not for european consumption.


naresh Says:

…here in the u.s. sports illustrated is a very legit sports publication.

sure it is..only in a place like America could SI be a legit sports publication. that was precisely my point..

A ‘legit’ SI for ‘legit’ American readers !


Von Says:

As an American I take umbrage to the anti-American remarks made by many of you. It is uncalled for. I know that some of you live in this Country, and probably make a good living too, so why are you casting so many aspersions on the Americans. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

This Country is rift with many sports and American athletes and surely it is unfair to our athletes for awards to be given to non-Americans. We have so many athletes that are passed over, year after year, due to the fact that there aren’t enough awards to be given. It would especially be very unfair for them to be passed over in lieu of a non-American athlete, and I don’t think a European country would want to give awards to American athletes, they would give it to their own athletes. It is only fair for each country to take care of their own first.

With regard to Pele’ and Association Football (soccer). This is predominantly a European and South American sport. Pelle’, who hails from Brazil was one of the very best soccer players in the world. A few years ago Pele” presented the trophies to the finalists at the French Open. He also presented the players with autographed soccer balls.

Quite a few of the soccer players from England were asked to take coaching jobs to help America promote soccer, but unfortunately, Americans prefer football, baseball,basketball and golf, probably in that order. There was a song, which goes like this … “baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet…” Soccer and tennis are lagging far behind and may never be parallel with the other sports. Tennis has its own magazines and its own viewing public so I don’t understand why SI should be turned into a pro-tennis magazine. SI should be able to choose whomever they feel should be awarded the “Sportsman of the Year” award. Perhaps if tennis were to revert to the moratorium that was in place, viz. pre-open era –in Rod Laver’s time — then the Americans would be giving the awards to the American athletes and there won’t be any problems and debates as to who got passed over and for what reason.


grendel Says:

“This is predominantly a European and South American sport.” – i.e. football, the real football, not that bizarre stuff they play in America wearing space helmets and all that. Actually, this is out of date Von. Football WAS predominantly European and South American – now it is African and Asian as well. Only North America, in all the world, takes no interest. Well, perhaps Australia and New Zealand also.

I know nothing about SI except what I’ve read on this blog – but it seems to me you have an unassailable point, Von. SI is American, why on earth shouldn’t it cater just for Americans? As you correctly say, European magazines, etc. Some of the critics here are of course Americans, and I don’t quite know what their standpoint is, apart from being ardent Fed fans. But those non-Americans seem to me out of order. Strictly, it is not our business. Oops, I oght to shut up then, oughtn’t I!


Von Says:

Grendel:

Point well taken about soccer (Association Football) being a predominantly Euoropean and South American sport. I stand corrected. I forgot about the Mediterranean countries such as Portugal Portugal which produced the great Eusabio (I can never get the correct spelling of his name) he was one of the greats in Pele’s time, and the Africans and Asians. I guess I am out-of-date also referring to soccer as association footbal. When I was a young girl that was the correct name. I suppose now it’s just football.

American football is just that — football. The British version of American football is Rugby, I don’t know if their clothing has changed, but they did pad up except for the helmets. The helmets the Americans wear and all the padding is for protection from serious injuries. Footballers do not have much longevity because the game is so rough, and the players can get seriously injured, hence the space helmets et al.

I am deviating from the context of the SI scenario and I will say that Jane is correct, to a point, that beauty is captivating and has its rewards. It happens in several situations whereby people who are not endowed with beauty get overlooked. Money is another reason why people are attracted to some people and there are people who would look at an ugly person and see them as beautiful because they are seeing the money. As for those women who drool over an athlete I think it is insane. Please remember, this is MY opinion and MINE alone. There are some athletes I like because aomething about their application of the sport sparks my interest.


naresh Says:

hey Von, i personally dont live in America and to the best of my knowledge, the money i earn doesnt come from there either.

but even so,my apologies. i didnt really mean to offend America as a whole. its just that sometimes the arrogance of some americans makes me wanna put em’ in their place !


Von Says:

Naresh:

Thank you for your kind apology, but arrogance is applicable not only to Americans but the whole world per se. I lived in Europe and I can truly say that I came across a lot of Europeans who were arrogant also. It’s that small group that gives this beautiful country a bad name. I can tell from your name that you are Indian and is it not true that arrogance exists in India between the different castes, e.g., the Brahmans, the Sikhs, the Shites and so many other castes. But for someone to stereotype you as arrogant because of those people’s behavior would be wrong.

You can choose to not let those few arrogant people make you change your disposition; keep an open mind and not let that govern your behavior. The ball’s in your court. I know that you are probably a very decent person because you would not have taken the time to be apologetic.

Enjoy your tennis, it is a great sport!


sensationalsafin Says:

Why is this discussion about Americans vs Europeans all of the sudden? Von, I get what you’re saying. Why should a non-American win an American award? Because they put him in the running! If he’s not gonna win the award then they shouldn’t even put him in the ballot to be voted for. He is the most qualified for the award and therefore should win it, American or not. America’s a white country, so a Black man can’t be president? As far as I’m concerned, as long as he’s the most qualified he should win, regardless of race. If he’s not gonna win no matter what then why do they even let him run? If it’s an award only for Americans then they should just change the name to American Sportsman of the Year. That’ll resolve all the controversy.


naresh Says:

hey von, the reason i apologised is for the same exact reason, that one cannnot and should not generalise a whole race/country based on certain peoples opinions. i am humble enough to accept that.

but my opinion as regards to SI and this particular case, could not have been put any better than what sensationalsafin said !


Von Says:

Sensationalsafin and Naresh:

You guys are just ganging up on me. I am just a little person (that’s a joke) but I get your point and yes, sad to say and grudgingly, they shouldn’t even put him in the ballot to be voted for. sensationalsafin you said: “If it’s an award only for Americans then they should just change the name to American Sportsman of the Year. That’ll resolve all the controversy,” I have no choice but to agree, because that’s sound logic. Mr. Spock would agree, (joke).

Now I have egg on my face. And, Naresh your point is well taken too, you’re correct. Anyway guys there’s always next year. In the mean time enjoy your tennis.


Ione Says:

\”If you were looking for some edge-of-your-seat tennis excitement this weekend, the U.S. v. Russia Davis Cup final wasn’t it. At least not for me.\”

Really now? Then that is a shame you missed the boat. For me, it is always exciting to see a real cohesive Davis Cup team such as the Americans win their dream title. It clearly meant so much to them.


2008: Federer Eyes Olympics, Svelte Serena Focused on No. 1 Says:

[...] Andy Roddick closed 2007 on a high note leading the U.S. to its first Davis Cup title since 1995. I have a history of picking guys to do well the year after they win the Davis Cup (Youzhny, Ljubicic) but it usually doesn’t work out. But screw it I’ll do it again. I think Roddick will have a much better year than the last when he won just two titles in three finals. And if Federer gets overly Beijing-obsessed Andy might be able to sneak out another Slam title at either Wimbledon or the US Open, or at the very least collect some TMS hardware over the summer. [...]

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