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Anatomy of a tennis fan.

Posted by tennisplanet on May 22, 2007

You freaking think you are the ultimate fan? Not so fast.

A true fan is not constantly kissing up to his/her idol. Oh, I can see your eyes widening in surprise!!!

Fans main mission is to ensure that, first of all, the integrity of the sport involved is always maintained. No one is bigger than the sport. They should openly chide the player concerned when that is breached. Even if, yes ‘even if’ any freaking thing.

Fan is also required to ensure their favorite player is able to reach and maintain the top spot in the world. This is not achieved just by taking the easy lane and becoming a biggest brown nose. It requires a good knowledge of the sport to offer constructive criticism when warranted.

Being openly upset and voicing those feelings to pressure the player to mend ways, is part of the deal, too. When the Los Angeles Lakers started losing because of poor effort, more than anything else, the city came together to openly air their frustration and demand better execution on the court. You think that got the attention of the team, coach and the management? You can bet your freaking, well, cat on it.

Most human beings want to be liked by their fellow souls. That drive has been used by many coaches in history to indirectly motivate their players. When Kwame Brown of the Lakers was fumbling every pass to him, the crowd started booing him every time he got the ball. You think that got his attention?

Kwame got so freaked out that he stopped demanding the ball, to avoid the humiliation. He started concentrating on other aspects of the game like setting picks, rebounding etc. It became obvious Kwame had a fragile psyche.

What did coach Jackson do? He arranged a contingent of people near the court to sing in chorus ‘Kwame, Kwame’ everytime Kwame got the ball. That built up his ego and restored his bruised psyche to where he is now considered one of the more respected centers in the game. His defense on Duncan, Garnett, Howard or even Shaq has been exemplary.

This is the guy who was considered washed up at Washington at age 22.

The freaking point is this: fans are a big part of player’s game. Players try to read and hear, everything written or said about them in the media. And it does affect their performance on the court.

You think Federer wasn’t aware of the cries to get a full time coach getting louder and louder after each of his losses?

So, you need to take off your freaking brown nose and be prepared to offer criticism publicly and fearlessly to voice your displeasure on anything that is out of line.

What do you think was the motivation Sampras used to win the last of his Grand Slams? If you are clueless, click here.

There appears to be one sure way to either be the darling of the fans or be booed or ridiculed.

It is the display of hustle, laying it all out on the court, the ‘never say die’ attitude, fighting to the last point, never giving up, bringing it every time the bell rings, digging out of holes with grit and determination, enthusiasm – is that good enough for you, freaks.

Jimmy Connors epitomizes that, probably more than any other player on the tennis court. Nadal is pretty close. What do you think frustrated the fans most about these losses from Federer? Not sure? Click here.

Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Mohammad Ali, Tiger Woods – can you even imagine anyone of them not ‘bringing it’ every time they stepped on the turf? In fact, their fire burnt with so much intensity that others around them had to match it, without choice to keep up. It is freaking contagious.

A true fan demands and expects it from the idol and is not hesitant to call him out on it publicly. What ensues is magic on the court, which benefits the fan, the player, the sport and the world at large in many subtle ways.

Their is no better way to bring the best out of a human being, irrespective of what endeavour is in question. The urge to be liked and appreciated is a powerful force that eclipses and demolishes most other impetuses, as a tool to rise above mediocrity.

Fans have an obligation to exercise it to the benefit of everyone involved and not be relegated to watching an uninspired, less than magical dance on the court.

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