Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is America headed for another Great Depression?


The proposed 700 million bailout plan was scrapped by congress by a vote of 228-205. Congress is scheduled to meet again this week to hopefully hammer out a deal.

Irrespective of ones political affiliation I believe the people have grown weary of empty rhetoric and promises. It’s time for so meaningful results. I think if something isn’t achieved soon we’ll be headed for another Great Depression.

The government is supposed to be “by the people, for the people.” We now hopefully see the latter isn’t true. It’s about government control and big business.

I believe if you work hard for your earnings and pay taxes you should have a voice in how your dollars are allocated. In short, if the American people will be affected by such a vast decision by Congress the people whom it will affect should be involved in the decision-making process.

Doesn’t that make sense?

The Harrison Square project is a local example of what’s going on nationally. In my opinion Harrison Square was forced down our throats. It was an idea that spawned from the minds of a select few yet spun to the masses as something the people of Ft. Wayne yearned for.

The city was so eager to get this project going in some instances they acquired property for substantially more than its’ true value. Isn’t the latter strategic maneuver partly to blame for the current national mortgage melt-down?

If a venture doesn’t make annual dollars to me it doesn’t make sense. Do you think it is intelligent to have a baseball stadium sit empty during the winter months collecting snow instead of revenue?

On the national front I believe the situation is much worse than it’s being projected. It’s time for the American people to wake up and see we are being socially engineered to focus on things to keep us from being fully aware of how bad things really are.

Historically the government has been substantially more hypocritical than just. This isn’t about racism, sexual orientation, crime, sports, or Obama vs. McCain. It's never been about the people and solving societal ills. It’s been about power, money and greed and the government misallocating taxpayer dollars.

When the interest of big business is on the line the government steps in swiftly bails them out. Why isn't the government bailing out the millions of Americans who need it?

It's not about taking care of the American people, it’s about government taking care of itself and aiding big business with taxpayer dollars.

The humanistic thing to do would be to help the American people save their homes, keep their jobs, and provide comprehensive health care for everyone. The latter will stimulate the economy by inducing constructive citizen participation.

Bottom line, if AIG can get 85 billion dollars to continue doing business the government can give us some of our money so we can continue to live.

If I were in charge here’s what I’d do.

I’d provide the people with what’s needed now. The people need affordable housing, gainful employment, lower food and gas prices, and adequate healthcare.

How?

I’d use the tax money taken from the citizens over the years for the people instead of big business. I’d allocate funds the same way the government issued those pitiful stimulus checks but I’d do it with swift precession. The people would have checks cut within a week.

Next, I’d give every homeowner a six to twelve month a moratorium on mortgage payments. Those who are in foreclosure will get six months and those who aren’t would get twelve. The people can allocate the funds they’d use to make mortgage payments towards erasing other debt and raise their credit scores.

Then, I’d provide every household with a minimum ten thousand dollars for hard times like this.

Also, I would also get the homeless off the street. There’s something fundamentally wrong for homelessness to pervade in a society that professes democratic values. If we can fund a meaningless war abroad at 10 billion dollars a month we can afford to provide shelter for human beings here.

My plan would cost approximately 15 billion dollars: that’s just five billion more that what it costs us to fund the war in Iraq for one month.

If someone has something better lets hear it because if something isn’t done fast we’ll be facing the nations second Great Depression.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Was NBA star Josh Howard's statement unpatriotic?


NBA star Allen Iverson held a celebrity flag-football game in Baltimore, Maryland in July. Fellow NBA player, Josh Howard, of the Dallas Mavericks participated in the game. While the National Anthem was playing Howard stated the following on video: "The Star-Spangled banner is going on. But I don't even celebrate that shit. But I'm black. God-damn Obama and all that shit."

African American journalist like ESPN’s Scoop Jackson suggested, “to come off unpatriotic is not good.”

I personally don’t have a problem with Howard’s statement. Many allowed his obscenities to deflect from his underlying message. Once you analyze his words he’s actually making a relevant statement.

Allow me to dissect for clarity.

“The Star Spangled Banner is going on.”

The song means nothing little to Howard because African Americans were systematically oppressed under the ole red, white and blue.

While America is typically noted for its positive efforts this country has also committed heinous acts which often go unspoken: the American flag everyone wants us to salute also represents systematic racism and oppression.

The song came from a poem written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. It ends with the famous words “the land of the free and home of the brave.” The latter didn’t apply to people of Howard’s hue as they were facing racism.

Howard believes we are living collective lies based on mythology commencing with American slavery that was sanctioned by the government, and kept alive today by the media.

“But I’m black.”

Despite Howard being a multi-millionaire athlete he recognizes that a high priced slave is yet still a slave. Irrespective of the advancements African Americans have made a long road to equality still awaits.

Centuries ago white historians purposely fabricated American history to ensure African Americans would be second-class citizens. Howard is suggesting this country has disseminated bold faced lies and half-truths about African Americans so we’d be viewed negatively in the mainstream today.

“God-damn Obama and all that shit."

To me Obama is already the President of the United States. He’s without question a better candidate than John McCain. But some in the African American community question whether Obama wants history more than making a real difference. Howard just expressed his feelings in a different fashion than most.

We all know we’ve never resided in a democratic state. We also know America has never been a free democratic state as history professes. Words such as freedom, justice, and equality are used to make us content. But when you understand the facts such traits aren’t a part of the African American experience.

Now it’s being suggested Howard should be should be traded, fined, or at least suspended because he spoke his mind. I don’t think he should be sanctioned at all. He wasn’t at work when he spoke and if there’s freedom of speech he should be free to express his views.

Most in the mainstream media have attacked Howard. Even a few of the African American sports writers jumped on board. To me African American writers need to speak up just like the athletes. But most opt for compliance out of fear of being ridiculed and or losing their jobs.

For example, Stephen A. Smith attempted to keep it real at times but he paid a price. In 2006 Stephen A. was stripped of his column with the Philadelphia Daily News and early this year he lost his ESPN radio show. Smith also had a TV show Quite Frankly for over a year but that was taken off the air. Now he writes a column for ESPN the Magazine while keeping it cool in the process.

What happened to Stephen A. sends a subliminal message that if you overstep your boundaries you’ll be silenced.

In my opinion most of the African American writers with viable platforms have heeded the message. Few have anything meaningful to offer in the way of direction and genuine insight.
We all know there's a price to be paid for speaking out. African American athletes, entertainers, and the few writers are fearful they'll get Stephen A'd so they opt for a combination of neglect and silence. That’s their choice but not mine.

I think the media is simply creating an atmosphere to get Howard black-balled out of the league by labeling him as an unpatriotic African American millionaire who talks too much. The message is ignited by the white mainstream media and they will cleverly utilize the handful of African American writers to bring Howard down.

I personally don’t have an issue with Howard’s statement nor do I think he’s unpatriotic: I have a bigger issue with how most aren’t looking beyond his words to see their true meaning.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Does one need attend church to do God’s work?


As I was leaving the YMCA last week after a workout I encountered a gentleman as I was walking to my car. As I was opening my car door the gentleman said from afar, “As salamm alakaim,” which is an Islamic greeting meaning “peace” or “peace be upon you.”

I really didn’t know how to take his greeting initially because I’m not a Muslim. I’m just someone who is trying to live his truth.

I rarely delve into the religion discussion for various reasons. But I think now is as good of time as any to share my personal thoughts on the church and religion.

First off, I’m a child of God who has been given the precious gift of life. I'm of African heritage and I’m a citizen of the world who resides in America. I believe in humanity irrespective of perceived differences in terms of religion, color, sexuality, and social status.

I don't subscribe to nor confine myself to the jurisdiction of a specific religious. I’m merely a spiritual being. While I think all religions are good I chose not to be part of one. To me attempting to live a good life is more important to me than professing a religious affiliation.

It’s important for me to be honest rather then attempting to be right. Living my truth and serving humanity based on the blessings God has given me is my chief aim.

For a long time I had a big problem with religion and the church but not some much anymore. From a historical standpoint religion, particularly Christianity was utilized as tool for oppression during slavery. The religion was an instrument racists used to justify enslavement and keep Africans in a state of subordination.

Now, in my greater wisdom I know it wasn’t the religion that forced servitude-it was the racists and their twisted interpretations of Gods’ word that fueled their actions.

Religion and the church has been a vital part in the African American experience in the United States. For centuries commencing with institutionalized bondage belief in God is all one had in dealing with bondage.

But our forefathers turned a negative into a positive.
The African American church was vital in the formation of institutions of higher learning to manifest throughout the south. Colleges like Howard, Clark, Fisk, Tennessee St., and Grambling were erected to facilitate the need African Americans had to be educated because whites didn’t want us at their centers of learning.

Prior to the Civil Rights Movement and beyond the church was targeted by racists because they knew he power of belief in the African American community. Churches were bombed by racists to break the collective will of African American’s spirit and soul. By violating African American temples of worship racists attempted to further curtail mainstream advancement.

Though religion has been instrumental in the African American community it’s also been divisive. It can promote separation rather than unity because many think their beliefs are superior to others.

Depending on the level of open-mindedness of those involved discussing religion can turn sour because many are quick to defend something that’s dear to their hearts. Sometimes ones faith clouds objectivity.

Two of the greatest leaders of all time were Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. One was a Baptist and the other a Muslim. Though both embraced different religions but their aim was the same. They wanted to liberate the oppressed masses.

Despite their differences they both were greeted with open arms at the gates of heaven because they did God’s work.

Another issue I have with some churches is some pastors use the word of God to make people feel good on Sunday simply to collect tides while doing little to help one deal with society Monday through Saturday.

I believe churches should better reflect the environment in which we live and address the problems that reside in it. This burden falls on the pastor some of which have agendas other than serving God.

Not all churches or pastors subscribe to the latter but we all know some do.

I believe in God but I don’t attend church. Does that make me not worthy of Gods love?

I believe God is everything therefore I consider the world to be my church. Where ever I go I believe the voice inside of me is God guiding me. I personally don’t need to join a church for further validation.

I'm just doing the work God has given me to do while attempting to live my truth.

Categorize me where you wish. I care little about how I’m judged because God is the ultimate judge, not man.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's time for Herman Edwards to move on!


Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herman Edwards suggested three years ago, "A scared man won't gamble and he won't leave his wife alone at home, I'm not scared."

Obviously Edwards no longer subscribes to the latter. Under Edwards’ leadership the team is more conservative than Ronald Reagan was when he was president.

The Chiefs looked dismal in their home opener losing to their arch rival the Oakland Raiders 23-8. The offense was horrendous as usual.

Herman “you play to win the game” Edwards simply isn’t putting his team in a position to win. Last year team lost nine consecutive loses and kicked off this year with two more. Despite getting younger and hiring a new offensive coordinator in Chan Gailey the offense still stinks.

The Chiefs are being held hostage to the conservatism of Herman Edwards. I think he needs to get his ship righted soon or the organization should get another coach.

It pains me to write this column because I love the Chiefs. I’ve been a die-hard since 1993. I can’t let my love for the team sway my professional judgment as a writer. I like Herman Edwards as a man but I don’t think he’s a good fit for the Chiefs. Sorry, but I must keep it real.

Last week against the New England Patriots the Chiefs got key turnovers and knocked Tom Brady out of the game. Yet offensively the Chiefs couldn’t score from inside the five with 56 seconds remaining to possibly tie or win the game.

Edwards is obsessed with getting younger on defense instead of getting the team better. Edwards played defense in the NFL for ten years and that’s the way he drafts.

Fine, but the last time I checked the team that scores the most points wins the game.

The Chiefs shipped their best defensive player in Jared Allen to Minnesota. The organization drafted Glenn Dorsey and he’s going be a stud. But wouldn’t the team have been even better with Allen and Dorsey?

This Edwards led team is a far cry from what it used to be.
Three years B.E. (Before Edwards) the Chiefs were an offensive threat. The line was great and they ran the ball well.

The Dick Vermeil teams had enthusiasm and passion. Gone is the aerial assault of Trent Green to Tony Gonzalez. Gone are exciting plays from Dante Hall and the dual threat of Priest Holmes running and catching balls out of the backfield.

Now the offense is horrific. Larry Johnson is not getting involved and Gonzalez doesn’t have a quarterback that can get him the ball.

If anyone hasn’t noticed the Chiefs need a quarterback. Brodie Croyle is injury prone and Huard is no more than a career backup. Two years ago Green went down and Huard came in and played very well but he’s not the answer.

So what did the Chiefs do this week? They sign Ingle Martin.

Ingle Martin?

Give me a break.

Edwards is seemingly more interested in keeping games close rather than “playing to win the game.”

In Edwards first year as coach in 2006 the 9-7 Chiefs got into playoffs on a myriad of miracles on the last day of the season. True to form the offense stunk. The Chiefs failed to get a single first down in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts in losing 23-8.

Last season due to injuries and conservatism on offense the Chiefs finished 4-12. This year doesn’t look much better.

What's the solution?

The conservative nature of the offense is actually handicapping a solid defense by being on the field much longer than it should. Getting Larry Johnson involved more would be wise.

Open up the offense with quarterbacks you have or get someone that can. If you lose fine, but at least lose with some dignity.

Forget about getting younger, focus on getting the team better.

Bottom line, if Edwards isn’t willing let his team “play to win the game” I think the organization should get another head coach and move on.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My US Open experience was a dream come true




Covering the US Open was a dream come true. I believe in dreaming big, living hard, and never giving up. It's the stuff champions are made of and in my own way I consider myself as such.

I guess dreaming big, living hard, and never giving up makes things you want come your way.

I've been to the US Open six times as a fan but this was the first as a journalist. When I went to the grounds to pick up my credentials on the grounds I was nervous. I felt as I was getting ready for a big match.

This time I was entering the stadium as a writer first, fan second. At first it was a bit difficult to separate the two. I did a good job because I kept it real.

I wrote good columns, networked and watched great tennis. I had big fun. I met people I've never would have met if I didn't have a vision.

All dreams are possible because I just did something I consider big that I've always wanted to do. Hit a wagon to your dreams and have at it.

My overall experience ranks up there with the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and the first of two Super Bowl games I attended as in 2001.

One thing that’s beautiful about sports is it brings people together. It's a utopian world that we in the mainstream can learn great lessons from. The biggest is cohesion. Sport as an institution isn’t perfect but what institution is?

Rooting for your player, discussing strategy, interaction with fans, meeting writers and TV analysts was great. The latter was possible because of the sporting event we all came to see. It was a very conducive environment to allow for meaningful communication to transpire.

Perhaps if we focused on those things which bring us together it would make for a great model in possibly transforming society.

I love sports, particularly tennis, because it simply makes me feel good. Sport is one of the greatest institutions ever. I'm blessed to have been able to live out a dream in an environment that I love to be in.

Despite the greatness of my overall experience it wasn’t without a few negatives. First off, I was one of a handful of African American journalists from all over the world. Out of the 1600 credentials issued I was one of approximately ten African American journalists from around the globe. The latter reflected the lack of diversity within the media and ultimately society.

For me the latter was bittersweet. It was bitter because of the poor representation of African American writers yet sweet because I was one of the few African American writers there. I was there with the big boys and by know means did I feel out of place because I believe I’m one of the best at what I do.

Representatives from Tennis Magazine, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and Newsday were there. It was great for my confidence and future endeavors. I got to talk with some of the so-called experts in their craft. We even engaged in debate. I left those encounters knowing I was good and many cases better than some of those there.

Why?

Because I'm confident and I'm not afraid to let it be known. Everyone has a beat that they live by. Mine just happens to sound so good that I want to share with everyone. Like American Express says, "Never leave home without it." My confidence is something I don't leave home without.

Tennis is diverse in terms of nationality but not in terms of color. The number of African Americans playing tennis is not where it should be. Marketing, lack of inclusion, and developing young talent are the primary reasons. I feel the USTA needs to do more to make the game as diverse and reflect the societal makeup of America.

In short, IF the US Open is truly open the USTA should open their minds and hearts and bring more color to the game.

Why hasn't the USTA sought the knowledge of Richard Williams? He raised two champions in a white dominated sport. That’s never been done in the history of tennis.

My predictions for the tournament were right on. My favorites to win on the men’s side were Roger Federer, James Blake, Andy Murray, and Novak Djokovic. For the women I picked the winner of the Serena Venus Williams match would win the tourney.

Another ironic thing is during the first week of tournament I get to meet both Roger Federer and Serena Williams and secured their autographs. Just so happen they took home the trophies. Good stuff.

A few moments that meant a lot to me were seeing two African Americans battling on Ashe stadium in a five set match. James Blake and Donald Young put on a show. A very fitting first round encounter after a night that honored 40 years of Open tennis.

Earth Wind and Fire held a small concert at Arthur Ashe stadium. They happen to be my favorite group of all time.

Though the celebration was nice I don’t think enough attention was given to the man who ushered in the Open Era of tennis. Please read my column on Arthur Ashe as it's a fitting tribute to a man that gave so much to sport and society. I didn’t get to meet his widow but I’ve secured her contact info and will be sending her a copy of my column I wrote about her husband.

My overall experience at this years’ US Open was wonderful. Seeing how things function from the inside out was nice. I had access to every place on the grounds except the locker rooms. Seeing the players practice on the courts, hanging out in the players lounge, and watching them prepare for matches was cool.

I met a number of past and current players Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, James Blake, Donald Young, Serena Williams, Jim Courier, and Mats Wilander to name a few.

I was hanging out and got to meet Mr. October Reggie Jackson. He’s probably my all-time favorite Yankee. I really enjoyed the moment, lived a dream, and did it with a smile.

I met an author Shaun Powell. He’s a writer for Newsday. We had nice dialogue about sports and my writing aspirations.

I met a lot of photographers, television people, and video editors.
I met a photographer from Switzerland assigned to cover Roger Federer.

The workers on the grounds were great, particularly those in security. I forged some good relations with those who worked the inside. The only thing that disturbed me was I saw workers/chefs whom were responsible for cooking food for the rich corporate executives eating outside on the steps as fans went to their box seats. To me that didn't look good. Rather that was the workers choice I don't know, but it made me feel uneasy seeing them prepare food for the rich while being forced to eat in what I deem an uncomfortable setting.

I even wondered into a luxury suite. Not my type of crowd but it was nice to see how the other half lives.

In closing, the dream I had was transferred into a goal. I made it manifest through persistence and planning. I'm not sure where this road will lead me, but it’s something I intend to find out.

I've accomplished something now it's on to the next thing. I have a big one planned but before I go public with it I first must commit to the idea. Once I do I'll let you all now.

So to all of you I hope you dream big, live hard, and never give up.

Richard Williams: He did it Frank Sinatra Style

Moments after Serena Williams won her third career US Open title the first person to greet her courtside was her father Richard Williams. He was smiling from ear to ear as he watched one of his two champions secure another Grand Slam for the family.

Richard Williams had raised and coached two African American champions who dominate a sport historically reserved for whites. Lets put this into perspective. Could you imagine if Tiger Woods had a younger brother just as good as in terms of talent challenging him each Sunday to win Grand Slams?

Enough said.

Richard Williams' has been hailed as a genius for what's done in raising two tennis champions in one household. I'd agree he's a genius but I'm more impressed with how he did it. Just like Frank Sinatra's hit "I Did it My Way," Williams surely did it his way.

Williams taught himself the game and passed on his knowledge to his daughters. He didn't have his children in USTA tournaments traveling the country like most: Williams kept his daughters grounded and away from junior touraments. It was a bold move but one that's obviously paid off.

To me Williams is a man from the hood that's often misunderstood. I've met him on several occasions at various tournaments. To me he's someone who is grounded yet speaks his mind. He deals with all people well yet aware of his surroundings and the pervasiveness of racism.

Williams has suggested there's racism on the WTA tour and his daughters have been the recipients of it. Looking at the lack of African American women and men playing tennis his assertion certainly has credence.

In my opinion the USTA hasn't done enough to diversify the game. I can't think of anything specifically they've done to make the game more accessible and affordable to African Americans.

If the few African American tennis stars were marketed correctly there could be more African Americans involved. Other sports like basketball and football market their athletes which creates future opportunities. African Americans gravitate towards the latter sports because they see someone who looks like them in abundance.

I think the USTA would benefit from the wisdom of Richard Williams. Why hasn't anyone approached him for his input?

The opportunity is there to grow the sport. Opening night of the US Open started with James Black playing another up and coming African American Donald Young on the court that's named after Arthur Ashe. In the quarterfinals Venus squared off against her sister in an epic two set match. The tournament ended with Serena Williams winning her third title.

The ingredients to grow the sport for African Amerians are certainly there.

But perhaps Williams doesn't want or need to be involved with the USTA. Perhaps the USTA is reluctant to deal with a man who has referred to the sport as being racist. To me by the USTA not consulting with Williams is actually a compliment. Not acknowledging his wisdom or seeking to utilize his expertise in actuality is a testament of his greatness. The facts are his two children from the hood are at the top of the tennis world. Hollywood couldn't have written a better script.

Think of Richard Williams as you wish but you have to give the man his due. He's done something no other coach has done in sports and that's raise two African American champions who dominate a white sport.

But more importantly he did it Frank Sinatra style-he did it his way on his own terms.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Arthur Ashe: A Tribute to an American hero


When Arthur Ashe won the US Open in 1968 he ushered in the “Open Era” of tennis which allowed both professional and amateur players to compete against each other. Ashe’s historic victory planted the seeds of change in tennis that have clearly manifested over the past four decades.

When Ashe beat Tom Okker in the final he received the winners’ trophy and $20.00 per a day in per diem while the runner-up received the winners’ share of $14,000 because Ashe was an amateur. The money was simply part of the sacrifice he made so the future generation of players would benefit today.

I was fortunate enough to have met Ashe in 1992 before a lecture he gave at Indiana University. In our brief conversation I expressed my love for tennis and asked how I could get better. He softly stated, “You have to practice.” Now, sixteen years later I’ll be attending this years’ US Open as a credentialed journalist writing about the man who kicked off the Open era in tennis.

When I met Ashe I knew he was a pretty good tennis player but hadn’t fully known of his accomplishments off the court.

Now I certainly do.

Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia July 10, 1943. As a youngster he was introduced to the game by his father Arthur Ashe Sr. Later Ashe’s skills would be honed by his coach Robert Walter Johnson. He was a standout tennis player at Sumner High School and was featured in Sports Illustrated.

Ashe entered UCLA in 1963 and in 1965 won the NCAA singles title in 1965. Besides his US Open victory in 1968 Ashe won the United States Amateur Championships and led the U.S Davis Cup team to victory. He’s the only player to have won both the Amateur and Open National Championships in the same year.

When Ashe ushered in the Open Era of tennis the societal conditions were horrific and racism was ripping the America apart. The country was was engaging in an unpopular war in Vietnam. Martin Luther King was assinated in April and Presidential hopeful Bobby Kennedy was slain in June. As a result race riots took place all over the country during the summer.

Ashe himself once suggested the biggest ordeal in his life wasn’t a tough opponent or AIDS-it was dealing with the complexities of racism. Ashe stated, “Living with AIDS is not the greatest burden I've had in my life. Being black is."

Ashe also stated, "AIDS killed my body, but racism is harder to bear. It kills the soul."

Ashe consistently displayed courage in battling opponents on the court, racism in America, aparthied abroad, and AIDS in his last days.
Without a doubt Ashe was a courageous man.

As a reminder of his marked courage The Arthur Ashe Award for Courage award is given annually to individuals who display courage in the face of adversity. The 2008 recipients were former Olymypic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos for the stand they took at the 1968 Olympics. With their fists raised to the sky and their heads bowed Smith and Carlos protested against racsim on the world’s largest athletic stage. Smith and Carlos’s demonstration was a silent gesture heard around the world.

It’s often difficult to visualize what’s possible without a visible prototype. Ashe along with the great female tennis great Althea Gibson made it possible for current African American players like James Blake, Donald Young, Venus the Williams sisters to excel. I only hope Ashe’s and Gibson’s foundation they set yesterday is not only embraced but appreciated today.

I think the name “US Open” is a fitting for this tournament. “United” means togetherness and “states” is a place of being. “Open” implies inclusion and freedom to engage.

Who better exemplified the latter more than Arthur Ashe?

This years 40 year celebration of Open tennis will be conducted at the stadium that bears the man’s name who started it all. The beautiful thing about sport is it brings people together. We temporaily relax our preconcieved notions and root for the team and or athlete. Wouldn’t it be great to bottle that temporary cohesion and give doses to everyone with the promise of making the temporary permanent?

If Ashe were alive today I think he’d want that.

Unlike most athletes today Ashe used his platform to plant the seeds of growth in society and sport. Ashe was a father, husband, mentor, activist, humanitarian, coach, scholar, and author who served his country who happened to play great tennis.

Inclusion is what Arthur Ashe fought for on and off the court: it’s wonderful to see those seeds he planted forty years ago are being recognized as they continue to bloom today.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Federer: Is his reign as king over for good?


Despite losing his number ranking to rival Rafael Nadal Roger Federer has looked extremely sharp entering the second week of this years’ US Open. He enters the second week of the last Grand Slam of the year looking like the Roger Federer of old.

Federer entered the US Open as the defending champion but unlike years past he has no Grand Slams in his pocket.
To start the year he lost in the semi-finals at the Australia Open to Novak Djokovic.

In an exhibition match in March at Madison Square Garden Federer narrowly bested the elder but spry Pete Sampras in three close sets.

In June Federer was crushed at the French Open by Nadal 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 in one of the most lopsided finals in Grand Slam history.

At Wimbledon Nadal halted Federer’s run at a sixth crown in a match for the ages. Nadal was finally able to do on Wimbledon’s green grass what Federer has yet to do on the red clay at the French Open.

Win.

Their epic clash at Wimbledon was reminiscent of the Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe final in 1980. McEnroe was the young lefty on the make seeking to dethrone the five-time champion Borg. Like Nadal in 2007, McEnroe came extremely close in besting Borg before succumbing to Borg 8-6 in the fifth.

In 1981 McEnroe came back and wrestled the Wimbledon crown from Borg. McEnroe followed up his Wimbledon triumph with a victory over Borg at the US Open. The loss sent the stoic champion into retirement.

The great ones like Federer typically face a time in their careers when their resolve is tested. At age 27 Federer, like champions of the past, has reached a pivotal point in his career.

Looking at the careers of Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, and Andre Agassi will shed light on the possible direction Federer’s career can go from here.

At age 26 Borg left tennis and his chief rival McEnroe in the dust. With McEnroe’s game ascending, pressure from the media and mental burnout Borg simply quit after collecting 11 Grand Slams.

Until Federer came along I’d never seen a more talented tennis player than John McEnroe. When he lost the 1985 US Open final in straight sets to Ivan Lendl it marked the last time McEnroe would sniff another Grand Slam final before retiring in 1992.

In 1986 after amassing 7 Grand Slams in six years he briefly left tennis, had a family, and moved to Hollywood with his then wife Tatum O’Neal. When McEnroe came back he wasn’t the same player. He didn’t play doubles as much which was crucial to his game attacking style of play.

Admittedly McEnroe needed doubles because he was seemingly allergic to practicing. Had he committed to enhancing his art we’d possibly be talking about Federer besting McEnroe’s career Grand Slam record and not Sampras’s.

Andre “Image Is Everything” Agassi was dubbed a player that couldn’t win the big one. The talented Agassi finally won Wimbledon in 1992. He followed that up with victories at the US Open in 1994 and the Australian Open in 1995.

Suddenly in 1997 at age 27 Agassi’s ranking fell to 122. He was married to Brooke Shields, not practicing, and enjoying life but his game suffered.

Faced with the possibility of flushing his career down the tubes Agassi recommitted himself. Armed with coach Brad Gilbert and trainer Gil Reyes, Agassi played challenger tournaments to get his ranking up and by 1998 he climbed back to No. 6 in the world.

The following year his hard work paid off. Agassi claimed the 1999 French and US Open titles and became number one in the world. At age 35 Agassi made it to the finals of the 2005 US Open before bidding adieu to the man in question Roger Federer.

Is Federer finished?

I say no. Not by a long shot.

Federer won’t quit like Borg. Not even a chance. Even though he came up short at this year’s Wimbledon he showed he has a champion’s spirit even in defeat.

Federer will not disrespect his skills like McEnroe did by not working diligently at his craft. He’ll hit the courts with more passion and simply find the answer between the lines to be king of the hill again.

I think Federer will revitalize himself much like Agassi did. Agassi won five Grand Slams after age 27 and I think Roger has at least that many left in him.

Strategically I think Federer to come to net more so he can to take maximum advantage of his vast skills. Other than that I think his game is fine and dandy.

Based on how Federer has played thus far at the US Open I think Federer will win the tournament. I think he’ll ascend to the mountaintop again, best Sampras’s Grand Slam record and ride off into the sunset.

Even though he’s currently not number one in the rankings I think he’s still the people’s champ.

Yes, Federer has a little work to do but he’s far from finished.