Readers respond to Fed criticism
It's always struck me as shabby when a commentator or columnist ignites controversy and then slips away like
The responses, pro and con, were as intense as they were numerous. So here's what we'll do. For those who have had their fill of the fashion/image discussion and -- quite reasonably -- would rather get back to tennis,
• Thanks, Caroline. But this is my point precisely. Some of my objections come down to taste. I thought all the gold imagery was tacky. Some of you agree. Some of you disagree. Some of you feel that when you win 15 majors and are a shining beacon for the sport, you can wear whatever the hell you want. Fair enough. No accounting for taste. Or, as member of the Federer inner circle very gamely told me and joked about this issue last week: "Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If it was all good, it would be boring."
What I really object to is the Nike agenda. Someone clearly determined that humility and modesty were insufficiently sexy or edgy. So they turn Federer into someone and something that he's not.
Anyway, a few of you made the point, "If Nike were paying you millions, you would wear whatever they put in front of you." I don't know about that. Federer has some leverage here. How great would it have been had he said, "You know what, guys? I'm not sure this is the message I want to be sending here. Let's try again and come up with something a little less ostentatious." (
• A lot of you made the same point. I hear what you're saying but I'm not sure I buy the analogy. I think there's a distinction between a team championship and an individual record. "We're No. 1" is different from "I'm No. 1."
But beyond that, I expect more of Federer than I do of
• As it is written: "A man can dislike a gold man purse without being a latent homophobe." I try not to ask for much in life, but one small request: Shouldn't it be possible to have an opinion without it reflecting a larger prejudice? Maybe when
• I was nodding along in agreement until the end. Seersucker is good up until at least age 8.
• Fair point.
• Second only to the guy who instructed me to get my colon cleansed, this might have been my favorite letter. The image of Federer wearing that get-up to Home Depot is great. Do we have a cartoonist in our midst?
• I agree that we -- the media, fans, society at large -- have this unfortunate habit of building up stars, tearing them down and then rebuilding them. (Or not, in many cases -- see Clemens, Roger inter alia.) But there's a flip side, too. Just because you're successful doesn't bring inoculation against criticism or opinion. One column expressing displeasure with the way Federer's modest image is being corrupted by his sponsors shouldn't make you a "hater." Fans don't forfeit their rights to opinions simply because the subject wins. For all the thoughtful arguments pro and con, I was struck by how many people simply said, "How dare you write something critical of a great champion."
• If so, I need to upgrade my gym.
• Only fools rush in (on short approach shots).
• Any teenager able to write this eloquently automatically gets published.
• Duck and cover, dude.
• I'm light, I'm light.
• Done. Let's agree to disagree and move on. Small quibble in the grand scheme of things. But if Federer comes to the U.S. Open, say, carried in on elephants whose trunks form the Nike swoosh ... well, it's back on.