Let’s establish a few important points at the outset shall we?
I admire Rafael Nadal as a brilliant tennis player, a humble winner and a sporting loser and someone who showed great courage and post-game levelheadedness in relation to the injury he suffered in Sunday’s final.
I also am very pleased for the underdog in Wawrinka to break through for his first major and hope that the issue of Nadal’s injury doesn’t make people feel he was in any way less deserving of the title.
I further think people in the crowd misinterpreted the reasons Nadal took an injury timeout during the match.
I believe at this level of tennis though, players are probably unaffected by the reactions of the crowd and it has little influence on the outcome.
I also believe that people invest too much emotion into many sporting contests they witness and attend and we are probably all guilty of reacting in a foolish manner when we are watching.
Having said all that though, don’t for one second tell me I can’t express my disappointment, anger, disapproval or favouritism by booing when and where I want to when I am in the crowd.
All this talk of small mindedness, reflecting badly on Melbourne, showing disrespect and so on is baloney, rubbish and a steaming pile of self-righteous poop.
Yes it was out of line under the circumstances, as Nadal wasn’t attempting gamesmanship or avoiding the fight. But don’t tell me I can’t let others know that I want one side to win or I don’t like someone.
This idea that the good name of Melbourne has been sullied also gets on my goat. We are so insecure that people won’t like us aren’t we. Give me a break. We haven’t tossed the cushions onto the court, shined mirrors onto the player’s faces or walked onto the court and stabbed someone have we?
When I am at the footy, I’ll boo who I want. Does it make a difference to the outcome? No. Does the player hear me? No. Do I look a dill? Probably.
But as long as I’m not crossing the acceptable line and start making race or other similar distasteful comments, I am Ok to do this in my view. I shouldn’t cheer a mistake or boo a good play that hinders my favoured player. But I can show I don’t like someone.
I can boo a good player or a bad one, I can boo someone who is a pest, or someone who I simply have an irrational dislike of. I can boo my own players, someone who has struck someone during a game or every bloke on the opposing side if I like.
We seem to be saying Nadal is a champ, a successful and talented player, so he is immune from our criticism and vocal displeasure.
Well, if on-field sporting success renders you immune from criticism, aren’t we just then slavish, pandering and fawning creatures designed to ignore reality?
There are sporting champs who are nobs, there are champs who are wonderful, but success doesn’t mean I cannot have an opinion about them.
Tiger has won lots of tournaments, and had a personal lifestyle I found objectionable. I can’t boo him now?
Ballantyne and Crowley occasionally flaunt the boundaries of the law on the field. They are fine footballers, but I can’t boo them either?
Stuart Broad is a very good cricketer who will play nearly every game for England this tour. He stood his ground in the UK, copped heaps for it and took his right whack. I don’t mind him but I’ll boo him if I like.
When have you done enough that you are above or immune to criticism, or have to be universally admired? Has Nadal crossed into that category? Granted, I don’t dislike him nor would I feel moved to boo him. But don’t tell me I can’t or he is above it.
I don’t have to like anyone. I don’t have to boo them either. But they are not exempt from my opportunity to have a negative opinion about them.
The crowd on Sunday night would, I am sure, not have booed Nadal had they known what was actually going on at the time.
However, they have every right to have a crack at him if they want.