Monday, September 14, 2009

I Still Get Surprised...

I know in my head that big rap stars, tennis champions and congressmen are all just people, and they lose their cool like I do... all of the time, but somehow I still get surprised when folks like that pop off, make fools of themselves, and in the process, their sport or vocation. It is an embarrassment for them and others to be sure, but the part that bugs me the most is the arrogance to think that you can say anything you want anytime you want...with the direct and collateral damage ending up being the intended targets of your spoken diarrhea. Last week during President Obama's address to Congress, Joe Wilson, a Republican from South Carolina, heckled the President in the middle of his speech with a boisterous, "You lie!". My guess is that particular criticism could be yelled at any of us at different times in our lives, as well as Barack Obama, but to choose to do so in the middle of a nationally televised presidential address was both disrespectful and rude. Wilson did apologize, but has also gotten significant political mileage out of the incident, seeing a boost in fund raising and fan mail.

I've been watching the U.S. Open Tennis tournament with interest, as there have been several compelling stories running throughout the tournament. First the skyrocketing interest in 17 year old American Melanie Oudin was a delightful story as this spunky, tenacious 5' 5" ball of energy defeated four consecutive Russian, highly seeded opponents on her way to a spot in the quarter-finals. She would fall there to a young Danish player, but it was an inspiring run. The other intriguing story was with Belgian player, Kim Clijsters, who retired from tennis after winning the U.S.Open in 2005 at the age of 22 (there were injuries and she wanted to get married and have a family) who had returned to competitive tennis earlier in the year. She indeed had married in the years that followed and now has a beautiful one year old daughter. The Open was only her third competitive tennis tournament back, and frankly no one considered that she would be a threat to compete for this major championship (or any other for that matter) anytime soon. Yup...So much for assumptions...Sunday night Kim Clijsters, the wife and mother, defeated that same Danish teenager who eliminated Melanie Oudin in the quarterfinals in straight sets to take the Championship. That is not what surprised me. In the semis Clijsters was facing the powerful, experienced, and heavily-favored Serena Williams. Kim played well...Serena did not... and after taking the first set, Serena was serving to stay in the match at 15-40. On the next serve she was called for a foot fault, which just means that the line judge, observed that Serena's lead foot touched or crossed the baseline as she was serving. The rule is, in fact, that the server must not touch the line with his or her foot until the serve crosses the net, BUT it is very rarely called, and almost never at this stage of an important match. That meant that Serena had one more serve chance to put the ball in play, but instead of serving she chose to approach the line judge and threaten to cram the ball down her throat, with several F-bombs inserted. It was a little scary and a lot bewildering that Serena chose this time to completely meltdown emotionally. The chair judge then assessed a point penalty to Serena, because she had gotten a warning earlier in the match for slamming her racket to the court, which meant she lost the point, and as a result, the match.

Last night at the VMA awards, 19 year old country music phenom, Taylor Swift won a video music award for female artists and in the middle of her acceptance speech, Kanye West walked on the stage, took the microphone from Taylor and proceeded to insist that that Beyonce's video should have won the award. Interestingly enough, when Beyonce actually did win something a little later, she chose to call Taylor back on the stage and gave her part of her own acceptance time to finish her speech. To his credit, Kanye later apologized.

Tonight on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Conan quipped that NBC was piloting a new show starring Kanye, Serena and Joe Wilson, entitled, "America's Got A-Holes".
He's right, we do, but I still get surprised. Maybe I should be surprised that I still get surprised...or not.



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