Yesterday I watched the epic Federer-Roddick Wimbledon final. I hadn’t watched a tennis final in years and had forgotten how absorbing it can be. Although I found myself thinking that it would be even more enjoyable if Andy was named Frederick, so that it would be ‘Frederick Roddick’ vs ‘Roger Federer’ and have a kind of matter-vs-anti-matter vibe.
Anyway, during the match, they kept showing shots of a florid, smiling, very Swedish-looking man in a suit whom I soon realized was Bjorn Borg. This happily reminded me of the Borg-McEnroe years, which seems curiously like one of the great under-reported sports episodes in modern history (er, given how over-reported everything else is, I mean). How has this not been made into a bio-pic yet? Other than McEnroe maybe refusing to give permission, which come to think of it is probably exactly why it hasn’t been made into a bio-pic yet. But seriously, given that Paulie Shore and Steve Guttenberg have already been the subject of recent Oscar-winning bio-pics, why not Johnny Mac? For one thing, his feud the crusty old Wimbledon committee was more or less the last historical installment of the ‘Brash American vs. stodgy old English’ trope that had been running for about 300 years. Nowadays, civility has declined to the point where an American being rude to Brits or vice versa would no longer have any kind of cultural narrative– it would just be another example of some person flipping some other people the bird.
Being a tremendous poor sport myself at sports and especially board games, I have a kind of perverse affection for the luminary poor sports in professional athletics. Not the contrived, sociopathic trouble-makers like Terrell Owens, but the true tantrum throwers: the McEnroes, the Charles Barkleys, the Billy Martins and Lou Pinellas. The ones who feel compelled to scoop up dirt and pile it onto home plate in order to convey disgust with the umpires.