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The Agassi Saga:

It was hard -- for me, at least -- to be unmoved by the whole Agassi story. It was hype, of course -- but it was far from being just hype. A standing ovation from the press corps, and then, remarkably, a two-minute standing ovation in the players' lounge. A great sports moment -- not quite up there to the level of When Peewee Put His Arm Around Jackie, or Gehrig's Farewell Address, but definitely in the exalted second tier. His little speech to the other players: Respect the game; take yourself seriously, because people out there take you seriously. There was something oddly ennobling about the whole thing.

I know there are VC readers who wish we'd stick to the "important" things, like politics, and law. To them, my apologies. But I'm one of those people who thinks that events like this do more -- much more, in fact -- to define who we are than does the question of who will be the next Senator from Connecticut. Just my $.02.

Jeremy T:
Well, Peewee/Jackie was a political moment, not a sports moment.
9.4.2006 11:03am
Donald Kahn (mail):
He was great to watch. I couldn't see how he did it: handling the fastest, hardest services in the game, and sending them back even faster.

I have seen some of the best players, starting with Perry and Budge; Andre was right up there.
9.4.2006 11:23am
elChato (mail):
Here was a guy who went out the same way he acted when he was on top: with class.
9.4.2006 12:25pm
Chris 24601 (mail):
I thought the initial AP story, saying that Agassi was only "trying to play tennis," was pretty lame.
9.4.2006 1:02pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Post what you find interesting... it's what drew the readers in the first place.
9.4.2006 1:20pm
Shangui (mail):
I found the press conference particularly impressive. I can't imagine the emotions he was going through, yet he managed to give articulate, interesting, and heart-felt answers to even the most banal of questions. It was so much better than the usual empty crap that usually comes out of the mouths of sports figures. The change in him over the years has been great to watch. And even when he could barely move he could still hit some of the hardest groundstrokes on the planet.
9.4.2006 3:16pm
Justin (mail):
"I'm one of those people who thinks that events like this do more -- much more, in fact -- to define who we are than does the question of who will be the next Senator from Connecticut. Just my $.02."

Sure. Because you're one of those people who will never feel real poverty, or feel the real tragedy of this war. No offense - I like sports too - but politics is less important than purely emotional events only to those who can make such decisions a luxury of life.
9.4.2006 4:17pm
Justin (mail):
PS - I have no problem with you covering events like this - my only statement was to respond to the concept that Agassi's retirement, as interesting as it is, is somehow more important than a public referendum on this atrocity of a war, if only a very regional referendum.
9.4.2006 4:19pm
tefta2 (mail):
Daniel, you're right about VC visitors being drawn here because of the diverse interest of the bloggers and commenters. I was sent here early on when there were only a couple of conspirators and was amazed by the scope of Eugene's knowledge and interests. For a non-lawyers, the VC may be becoming a bit too steeped in the law and I don't click over as often as I used to.

Agassi's gracious goodbye is a welcome change from the antics of some of the tennis champs of by-gone days.

Good luck to all in the new academic year!
9.4.2006 5:57pm
Howard in NJ:
Come on, Justin. Have the courage of your convictions.

If you truly believe that we're suffering through "this atrocity of a war" and all that, then you really should be condemning anyone who wants to talk about anything else - or who considers other things to be at all important.

Of course, I agree with Justin. Shame on you, David Post, for covering the Agassi retirement and finding it to be important when you could be posting on the atrocity of a surrender-to-the-terrorists candidate gaining a solid measure of popularity in Connecticut.
9.4.2006 6:36pm
No to Ned:
...and for those of you who are interested in who will be Connecticut's next senator, check out www.no-to-ned.blogspot.com.
9.4.2006 9:17pm
Freddy Hill (mail):

Politics is less important than purely emotional events only to those who can make such decisions a luxury of life.


Justin, Justin, Justin... Only somebody who has never known tragedy or poverty would make such an absurd claim.
9.4.2006 9:22pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Politics is less important than purely emotional events only to those who can make such decisions a luxury of life.

Try telling that to someone in a favela in Brazil...

Politics is just a subset of sport, anyway.
9.4.2006 9:33pm
jgshapiro (mail):
Oh come on!

The problem with the post isn't the subject matter, it's the claim that this was some kind of great sports moment. Virtually every veteran sports figure gets an ovation when they leave. Even when they should have left years before. How is this different?

He should have left three years ago, after winning the AU Open. Failing that, he should have left last year, after coming in 2nd in the U.S. Open. More than one person said to me in the past day or two that they thought he already had retired and were surprised to hear he was still playing.

If Agassi leaving is the biggest sports story of the weekend, all that really tells you is that it was a slow weekend for sports.
9.4.2006 9:33pm
Mike Roark (mail):
It seems to me how we each lead our live is important - the sum of which defines this nation - seems pretty important to me. As for Andre ... he won't go down in history as a "great" man, but give him his due. He is much better at what he does than I am at what I do - and I suspect that is true for most of you. You should be so lucky to be that good. Another thing I find interesting is that he has grown up before our very eyes. He used to be a snotty, spoiled kid. He matured - he grew up. He learned to control his anger, disciplined himself physically and emotionally and became very successful. I think he set a pretty good example. Lastly, in today's sports atmosphere, dominated by too many thugs who barely speak english, it is a breath of fresh air to hear his remarks. I salute him and wish I could have been there. I would gladly participate in an ovation in his honor.
9.4.2006 11:18pm
Lev:
And Steffi Graf ain't too bad to go home to.
9.4.2006 11:24pm
Mike Keenan:
"How is this different"

It is different because he was one of the top 10 at his sport ever. Not just a "veteran sports figure". Not only that but one of the most charasmatic and popular -- and married to one of the best woman players ever -- as well.

How often does one of the top 10 retire? Once or twice a decade?

And, Justin, how dare you worry about the troops in Iraq when there are starving kids in Sudan.
9.4.2006 11:29pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Didn't he play with the Celtics?
9.4.2006 11:40pm
Shangui (mail):
More than one person said to me in the past day or two that they thought he already had retired and were surprised to hear he was still playing.

If Agassi leaving is the biggest sports story of the weekend, all that really tells you is that it was a slow weekend for sports.


As for #1, he was out for much of the year with a pretty bad back injury. He also made what I think was a pretty good point that he didn't want to just quit after a good result, but when he felt ready to quit.

As for #2, how could this not be a big sports story on any weekend? The guy is one of only five men in history to win every Grand Slam tournament. He's played professionally for 21 years and has gone through some pretty massive changes in that time. Finally, he's the last of a group of US men all very close in age (Sampras, Chang, Courier, Martin to some degree) who really dominated tennis for quite a while. This is made more important because Tennis is the only truly international sport that many Americans care about. Seems like a reasonably big story to me.
9.4.2006 11:48pm
Agassi fan.:
I, for one, read this blog for the sports commentary.

But seriously, sometimes we need to take a break from the '"important" things', if only to remain sane.
9.5.2006 12:50am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
The top sports story of the weekend was Tiger's 5th straight win.

The main thing that makes Agassi different to me is this: he was a brat and a punk who somehow managed to grow up on the tennis tour. The only other example of this that comes to my mind is Jimmy Connors. The odds against someone starting out as an idiot and jerk, and then developing class while they are a top athlete are virtually null. Agassi managed to do just that, and he deserves more than a little credit for it.

Duffy
9.5.2006 1:05am
Justin (mail):
I was simply responding to the comparison made between Agassi's retirement and the Senate election in Connecticut, as to which was more important of an event. Comparisons to the Sudan are besides the point entirely. That also doesn't mean that people shouldn't talk about other subjects - indeed, talking about a subject is by itself something of almost no importance one way or another - but the comparison made by David Post was absurd and I was simply pointing that out. That doesn't mean the rest of the post was inappropriate or even incorrect. Indeed in troubled times in PARTICULAR sports tends to be a good outlet to avoid self-exhaustion and depression.

Freddy, given that I've known one particular tragedy just last week, I'm not sure your claim is one that I'm going to find persuasive.
9.5.2006 1:09am
Melissa Kelley (mail):
As a Manhattan resident, I regret deeply not going to the match today. I was lucky enough to see him last year against Ginnepri, and it was truly something else.

While sometimes we need to take a break, if only to remain sane. But beyond sanity's sake (which can be overrated), his phenomenal skills, as well as evolution as a person, are beyond commendable. It's a pleasure to see an athlete in the news who can 1. make complete sentences and 2. who isn't in the news because of an alleged rape, murder, theft, punching out a fan in the stands, etc.
9.5.2006 1:34am
Frederick:
It's a pleasure to see an athlete in the news who can 1. make complete sentences and 2. who isn't in the news because of an alleged rape, murder, theft, punching out a fan in the stands, etc.

Amen...
9.5.2006 10:40am
noahpraetorius (mail):
Despised the guy 15 years ago when he was Mr. "image is everything". But he became a truly class act. Kudos!
9.5.2006 3:53pm