Saturday, August 2, 2008

On The Tunney Side of the Street #185, July 14, 2008

On the Tunney Side of the Street #185 - July 14, 2008

After Further Review .... “His Grace never ends,” said NBC announcer Ted Robinson about Roger Federer as Federer accepted his defeat and congratulated Rafael Nadal on Nadal’s victory in the 2008 Wimbledon All England Club Championship. Federer, who had won this tennis championship 5 straight times, now had to sit back and accept the role of runner-up.

“Probably my hardest loss – doesn’t get much harder than this right now,” said Federer as he graciously answered post-match interview questions. Roger was 2 points from victory in this 4 hours and 48 minutes “test of wills” (Remember: “It’s the Will, not the Skill”) centre court historic event. Yet, through all of his frustration, tremendous disappointment, and weariness, Federer ‘stepped up’ – as the champion he is – to say “Rafa’s a deserving champion – he played fantastically.”

The humility and grace of both Federer and Nadal cannot – and should not – take second place to that victory. As Nadal, the champion said, “I’m sorry for him, because he deserved this title, too.” Nadal, a Spaniard whose name is now engraved on the Wimbledon Cup just below 5 consecutive engravings of Federer’s, is the first player to win both the French Open and Wimbledon in 28 years (since Bjorn Borg in 1980). Too often at that level of supremacy in a sport, an athlete becomes somewhat jaded and/or pompous. Not Nadal. Not Federer. And finally, Nadal said of Federer, “He’s still the best.”

All those who saw it live – either sitting at centre court or on television, have proclaimed this Wimbledon “the best ever.” What is more impressive is that these two competitors fought – to physical exhaustion – and gave everything they had. No trash talking, no screaming at the chair umpire, no vile language. And at the end, they were composed, albeit teary eyed, and down right nice to each other! True champions!

Perhaps, when each time they left their locker room, they read the sign over the doorway: “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same” (Rudyard Kipling’s “If” circa 1910). Triumph and Disaster? Imposters? Of course! While we must always “play to win the game” (Herm Edwards 2004), the end result is our full-out effort. Then walk away knowing you gave all you could.

To all parents, teachers and coaches – can we make ‘winning’ a goal and not the end-all? Life does and will go on for Federer, as it will for each of us – IF, we can treat those two imposters just the same.

Will you give your best performance each time whatever the result?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to

No comments: