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My Hero, the Phony.

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Michael Jordan once fondly commented on basketball in an interview explaining that “Even when I’m old and grey and can’t play it, I’ll still love the game”. Jordan is just one of the sports-gods in American history who have held an undying passion for their livelihoods. This passion is fed with love and embraced when an individual can find happiness simply through playing the game. While I admire this ability to love a sport so dearly, I cannot relate. Tennis has consumed my life for eleven years and counting, and each time I step onto a court I feel an overwhelming sense of grief which even winning cannot remedy. I am not passionate about tennis; however I find it intriguing to excel in a field where there is no love or passion to be used as a motivator. In sports history one man has spoken out against the sport which gave him his name. Andre Agassi did not love tennis, he simply conquered it.
In his recent book “Open”, Agassi discloses that in his own words, he “hates” tennis. This shocked the tennis community and captured my interest. How can a man once ranked #1 in the world have such distaste for the sport which shaped his entire life? This game has consumed his life since he could hold a racket and yet he has the audacity to hold a grudge. Furthermore, Agassi played pro tennis longer than anyone else in the business. Through all these record breaking accomplishments it is hard to imagine that this man harbored such vengeance. It is for all of these reasons that this man is fit to be my hero.
The fact that Agassi is an amazing tennis player does not impress me, nor does the fact that he hates the game. Alone each aspect of his life is either mundane or disrespectful. However, blended together these traits form a man of superhuman mental ability. The ability to conquer a mental game such as tennis while compartmentalizing distaste in another area of the brain fascinates me. It is Agassi’s dedication to a sport he grew to dislike which makes him so unique, while 99% of the world would have quit. As of next year, I become this 99%.
After I have fulfilled my duties as captain to a varsity tennis team, I vow to never set foot on a court again. Never will I repeat a ridiculous scoring method nor bicker over indecent line calls. I will forget tennis and use it as a resume builder to accomplish what I am passionate about in life. While I look to my bright future and am hopeful of what it will unfold for me, I feel a sense of pity as well as respect for Agassi. He had no end to his duties and his future was the same as his present; consumed by tennis. The world will remember him as a tennis player and this label will stay with him to his grave. Through these realizations that I’m sure made him shudder, he never gave up. On top of winning, he played harder and longer than anyone to ever step foot on the court. This man is a picture of success, for to love and play is impressive, but to hate and win is admirable. Agassi once said “Being number two sucks”. This peril of wisdom will encourage me to win, even on days where I feel the darkest hatred of a game that has devoured me.



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