Federer VS Nadal Finals – some insights

The defeat of Roger Federer yesterday came as a big surprise and a shock to many – shock to those who considered Roger Federer as  the Conqueror personified. I am not going to analyse the match here because that has already been done by several and will be the point of discussion in the future as well. Here I am planning to write about  what happened after the defeat for Federer as well as his supporters (and his supporters are virtually all   sports lovers who understand and watch tennis). I am sure when he cried all his supporters also must have cried with him just as they always rejoiced whenever he won. In fact before,during and after the match,the commentators were very open and vocal about their support to Federer.

If one were to probe a little into this phenomenon,several things would come to the surface providing some insight about our behaviour.

Fundamentally, we all love continuity. It takes a lot out of us to accept change however obvious it is. We create our own mental picture of our pet heroes, a heirarchy of achievers , cling to them and resist any change that conflicts with that image. We bond with our heroes and support them at all costs. And invent reasons as to why the other guy is not our favourite. Can you believe that someone known to me said during the match that she does not like Nadal to win because he looks like an Apache! Why? Shouldn’t Apache’s win? And what’s wrong with looking like one?? Another person said Federer is all grace and elegance and has wider range of shots. At least the latter reason for liking Federer is somewhat more rational, although winning or losing a game is not solely dependent on that. What matters in a match situation is not elegance, not grace but how one plays and wins critical  rallies and points repeatedly, how one holds nerves at crucial moments etc.

Another interesting aspect of our hero worship is that many of us are conditioned to believe that our hero is invincible like in an Indian movie. This leads to unrealistic expectations. Very often the hero falters just because he is unfairly being made to carry the burden of expectations of millions of his supportes. In fact, one sports writer commented that Federer died a million times during the match.

Although I have taken the match as an example,my intention is basically to use the anology to highlight that these are the very ghosts that are haunting us  in our daily lives. We have our own Federers and Nadals in real life too. In other words “myself and my favourites are Federers while my non-favourites are Nadals”. We rejoice when our Federers win a battle and cry when they lose.  The fundamental cause of our misery is the same – our conditioned expectations and responses to all situations, unwillingness to change our pet heroes / favourites, our fears and insecurity about the future which makes us stick to the beaten track, living in the past and glorification of past achievements which leave very little time to respond intelligently to the present challenges. Like Federer in the game,we also die a million times during our lives due to self-doubt,false or unrealistic expectations,frustration,anger, jealousy etc. The moment we become aware of  these pitfalls,the process of transformation to a happy and succesful life  will begin.

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Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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