I have never been a tennis fan; however, last week I became a fan of Andre Agassi.
Agassi, the retired 39-year-old winner of 8 Men’s Grand Slam Singles Titles, shocked the tennis world when unexpected excerpts from his book, OPEN:An Autobiography, surfaced in Sports Illustrated and The London Times. Graphic depictions of Agassi’s 1997 clandestine recreation with crystal meth and his subsequent lying to the ATP governing body, which threatened to suspend him, stirred a storm of controversy in the sports world.
An outspoken Martina Navratilova was the first former tennis great to excoriate the remorseful and agonizing Agassi, carelessly comparing him to a recalcitrant Roger Clemens. As memories of her own misery momentarily morphed, Martina all-too-quickly leaped out of her own closet, jumped into an awaiting Subaru, and raced down to the first available media outlet to air her agitation against fellow athlete Agassi. Interestingly, this gender-challenged Czech chastised sports fans everywhere a few decades ago for failing to fancy her homosexual lifestyle at a time when such admissions produced public anxiety. Now, she was nay-saying the atoning Agassi for admitting to his personal, private addiction. Sadly, too many others followed the former leading lady of tennis by lacing into Agassi and tearing into this talented, tearful tennis player.
While I don’t condone his irresponsible behavior, I do admire Agassi’s brutally honest revelations and his desire to be OPEN, as his autobiography suggests, with fans. The retired tennis star’s transparent angst is abysmally absent from today’s celebrity athlete. Andre admitted errant antics and demonstrated deep regret . . . which today’s “Pa-Role Models” fail to display ’til uncomfortably cornered and forced to confront culpability and criticism to salvage their otherwise crumbling careers.
Let’s decry Agassi’s bad behavior; however, let’s acknowledge Andre’s sincere admissions, his altruistic contributions to the Las Vegas community and, most importantly, his decision to be OPEN with the sports world.
That’s why I’ve become a fan of Andre Agassi.
Straight Talk. No Static.
MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!