Most anyone who knows me, knows I’m a big fan of tennis. The grand slams are my favorites, although I watch as much as I can whenever I catch a tournament on TV. (And no, I really don’t play much tennis. I’m just a spectator).
Right now, arguably the most prestigious of the grand slam tournaments is being played: Wimbledon. I’ve been watching tennis since Bjorn Borg was king of Wimbledon in the 70’s. John McEnroe was coming on scene. Jimmy Connors was a crowd favorite, and in the women’s game, there was the great rivalry between Martina Navratilova and Chrissie Evert.
This year’s Wimbledon has been by far one of the most surprising I’ve ever watched. The top three seeds on the women’s side are out. The draw is wide open for a new player to win the whole thing. On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer lost early in the tournament. All the media had them slated for a big quarterfinal match up. But Rafa was gone in round one and Roger in round two.
At Roger’s post-match press conference, he handled his loss with grace and class. He also said something that stuck with me. He talked about how the media already had him and Rafa in the quarterfinals, and now they were both out of the tournament. He told the press that they need to show more respect to the other players in the draw.
One of the reporters asked another question and mentioned the other players wanting more press coverage. Roger interrupted him and said not press, but respect.
Respect is getting difficult to find these days. It used to we could have a gentleman’s debate. We could agree to disagree on issues (any issue) but still respect the other person. Now, it seems like if we disagree with someone, then we’re “haters.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.
I can disagree with your beliefs or lifestyle and still respect you, still care about you and still love you. You can disagree with how I live my life, but I hope you’ll still show me respect as a person.
I think I love the game of tennis because at the end of the match, the competitors must shake hands. They must show each other sportsmanship and respect. Some players are better at doing that than others. But I like that the players can compete fiercely on the battlefield of the tennis court, leave everything out there, and still shake hands with their opponent at the end of the match.
Have we lost the ability to do that in day to day life? We may fight our battles, but do we show respect for the other side? If Christ tells us to love one another, then to me, that includes respecting everyone as people, whether you understand or agree with their beliefs or not.
How can the game of tennis teach us to respect each other? How can we translate this into our every day lives?