My Sportsman: Roger Federer
For four years running, I have used this space to trumpet tennis Yahweh,
Agile and fluid as he is on the court, Federer hasn't budged from the top spot in the rankings for nearly four years now, the longest streak at No. 1 in the Open Era. And if you're looking for a true "Sportsman," you won't do any better here either. Several years ago, another SI staffer wrote that the next person Federer offends will be the first. That still holds.
Each year, Federer has fallen just short. If this were a presidential election, Federer would be the guy with the perfectly credible candidacy, the unimpeachable character and the unassailable record who makes it out of Iowa, but ultimately fails, for whatever reason, to capture the imagination of the vote.
So now I am encouraging you to look elsewhere. Surely there are more deserving candidates than Roger Federer. Let me count the ways:
For one, Federer failed yet again in his Ahab-like quest to become the first man since
Take a look at Federer's won-loss ledger, too. The dude's record for 2007 was 68-9. Pretty nice, dominating even. But it hardly suggests invincibility. In fact, his winning percentage is not even 90 percent. And not only that, but two of those losses came during a spring slumplet -- at least by Federer standards -- to
Federer's off-court conduct also makes him unworthy. For example, there was this one time he wore white after Labor Day. We think. Oh, and during the U.S. Open, the venerable New York Post reported that Federer received an $800 haircut. Didn't
Finally, the Sportsman of the Year ought to be accorded a person of valor and fortitude, a modern-day Achilles, someone who embodies the warrior ideal. You think that
Heaven help us if this is the picture of a Sportsman.
Who does that leave to take the award for 2007? Some quarterback who may have won a dozen games during his four-month season, or a college basketball team that caught fire in March. Whatever. Doesn't matter to me. Just not Roger Federer.
Anyone but that loser.