I watched two recent finals — The Australian Tennis Open (Djokovic vs. Nadal) and the Super Bowl (Giants vs. Patriots) and their endings were very different in spirit. I liked the Super Bowl ending better, surprisingly for me.
Tennis is a non-contact sport, and even today you can’t foul your opponent. But when Djokovic won a close very exciting game filled with reversals, he went literally ape — snarled, looked up at the sky, roared several times with bared teeth, tore off his shirt, flexed his muscles.
Intimidating to the other apes, though the game was already over.
I understand being happy about winning, and aggression is necessary to do so, but I dislike this kind of triumphalist gloating. Personally, Borg and the other Swedes were my stylistic heroes, plus Sampras and Federer. Still, no one gets hurt and it’s not violent.
The Super Bowl was diametrically opposite. The game was filled with aggression and violence in the cause of getting the ball into the end zone. But when someone got a touchdown they spiked the ball and did a dance of joy, not triumph. And when the Giants finally won, they didn’t roar, they didn’t trample, they didn’t gloat. They merely looked genuinely happy.
Strange that tennis brings out the worst at the end, and football the best.
PHOTOS: Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in their men’s singles final match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne January 30, 2012. REUTERS/Ryan Pierse/Pool. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning raises the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the New England Patriots to win the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game in Indianapolis, Indiana, February 5, 2012. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan