Nadal and Cheating. From Chipnputt. Thanks.
Posted by tennisplanet on October 16, 2010
Nadal and Cheating
I have been surprised at the lack of discussion on this site about Nadal and his admission of asking and receiving strategic advice during the USO final. Discussions have started but have been killed off by a variety of reactions from some posters.
This is the No.1 player in the world, and he has admitted to cheating. Should we brush it under the carpet? Surely it deserves an adult discussion.
In an earlier post, I had flagged what Jon Wertheim from SI (incidentally, Jon is one of the most respected journalists on tennis) had said on this topic. In gist: (1) This is not a new development — Nadal has been pulled up for it before; (2) Jon condemns it; but (3) He wouldn’t call it cheating. According to him, cheating is graver stuff like taking drugs.
Jon got some more mail because of this response:
Mail: “I think you’re an idiot”.
–Jerry, Odessa, Texas
Jon’s answer: “Hey, at least provide a reason”.
Mail: As I was saying, the reason I think that you’re an idiot is because of the things that you say. Now you are saying that Nadal (I’m a Nadal fan) isn’t cheating by soliciting coaching from his uncle. You claim that cheating is taking performance enhancing drugs and such, but getting coached is not. Well, cheating is defined as breaking the rules. Regardless of what the violation is, it is still cheating. There [sic] ATP rules stipulating that coaching is illegal. So if Nadal was [sic] getting coached, then he was cheating.
–Jerry, Odessa, Texas
“I was surprised how strongly many of you feel about Nadal’s “cheating” when he solicits and/or accepts coaching from his uncle/coach. I just want to clarify: I don’t think we should condone this behavior. I think it’s beneath Nadal. I think other players are in their rights to complain. I think it violates the rules both in spirit and letter. I just don’t think it’s a felony. I was reacting to the notion that Nadal’s U.S. Open title was dirty or tainted or somehow ill-gotten.
In any case, I recognize that many of you — even Nadal fans like our friend Jerry — are deeply upset by this. I also recognize that if Nadal is openly admitting to cheating and not getting called for it, the door’s now open to every other player. Conclusion: especially with technology available, it’s time for tennis authorities to crack down.”
A second letter:
“About Rafa and coaching. There’s a big difference between a coach yelling ‘focus’ and a player ASKING his player box (serving for the match in a GS final, and not your first GS final, either) where to serve and getting a reply. I don’t think the rule book meant ‘focus’ or ‘vamos’ when they forbade communication between player and coach. They were thinking about ‘serve to the body’ You think it doesn’t take away from Rafa’s title, and I agree. However, I’d feel different if this was a fifth-set tiebreaker. Moreover, If anyone ever looked for a reason as to why Rafa, a humble, down-to-earth guy who is polite to players, to ball kids, etc., does not win any sportsmanship awards, look no further.”
Jon’s Answer: “Your last point is a good one. Here’s a guy who clearly cares about fair play and sportsmanship. You wonder why he allows this behavior — which is a bare minimum is controversial — to persist. And anyone who can improve his serve and volleying so dramatically can’t fall back on the “creature of habit” defense.”
I am posting this, and at some length, because it is an important topic for tennis fans. Nadal is the #1player in the world and indications are he is going to stay there for a while. He is the standard bearer of the sport and he has admitted to cheating. Surely, the authorities need to crack down harder on future violations. AND surely, Nadal needs to realize that greatness is not only about winning matches. He needs to show a grater respect for the rules of the game and he needs to earn the respect of his peers, not just as a player but also as a sportsman. It was really news to me that Nadal has not once (not even in 2008) been voted for his sportsmanship by his peers.
Lastly, as we’ve (almost) been here before, let me pre-empt a few replies:
(1) First, let’s not confuse (deliberately or otherwise) cheating with gamesmanship. According to the Webster dictionary, CHEATING is “to violate rules dishonestly”, while GAMESMANSHIP is “the art or practice of winning games by questionable expedients WITHOUT actually violating the rules”. (my emphasis).
Taking a toilet break to break your opponent’s rhythm my not be a nice thing to do but it is within the rules. It’s gamesmanship, but not cheating. Asking your box for advice is a deliberate violating of the rules. It is cheating, not gamesmanship.
(2) “Everybody does it”. Ans: (a) Not true – how many in the top 10 players have been warned for cheating, a la Nadal at Wimbledon? and (b) Are we saying the whole game is rotten? They are all cheats, top to bottom?
Just a reminder: The game is bigger than the individual and regardless of how strong one’s feelings may be for a certain player it is just plain silly to try and malign the sport to obsessively defend “your player”. You are doing nobody any favors, especially not your guy.
(3) “Fed took a toilet break. He cheats too”. Answer: Yes, he did take a break, it wasn’t a nice thing to do, but it was within the rules and wasn’t cheating. In any case, not sure what purpose it serves to attack Federer, except to try and show that all players are cheats. In that case, refer above. By the way, if Federer cheated, it still wouldn’t make Rafa’s actions any more correct.
(4) Ignore the main message of this post and attack something obscure in it or attack me. Answer: Oh well, go ahead, but it won’t change the facts.