Books | Sports

June 1, 2009

A Classy, Classic Title Bout

Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim went deep on the memorable Nadal-Federer final at Wimbledon.

Mickey Lambert

Rivalry has always been an integral part of the appeal of sports, and the engine for its inherent drama and theatrics. Every faceoff has deathmatch-level implications; every interaction is pregnant with tension and anticipation. Will this be the clash of the titans that every fan seeks? Unfortunately, the actual event frequently falls well short of the hype. When Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden faced off in the 1986 World Series, it was as ho-hum a showdown as could have been conjured. Neither was on his best game; instead of the lions roaring, there was barely a mewl.

Sometimes, though, two individuals at the top of their respective games face off, and all the dreams of sports fans come true. This is a moment we collectively live for, where the best face off and create a synthesis of astronomical talent that is far greater than the sum of its parts. It is at these moments—the best, against the best, at their best—that one need not be an avid fan to recognize the magnificence of the event at hand. Sport, perhaps more than any other medium, provides the opportunity to live inside a historic moment as it happens. There is a point in the most storied contests when the crowd is keenly aware that regardless of the outcome, the event itself is historically and personally significant of its own accord. And at that point, authors in attendance may start rewriting book proposals in their heads.

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Article by Mickey Lambert

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