We were reading an article on Novak Djokovic’s apparently thrilling five-set, tie-breaker victory over Roger Federer in the men’s Wimbledon final when we came across a quote from Federer. It came in response to a question about the new fifth set tiebreak, which goes into effect when the fifth set is tied 12-12. It’s a new rule at the Championships, designed to cut to the chase and prevent matches from lasting three days. It was the first Wimbledon final to utilize the 12-12, fifth set tiebreaker, probably a good thing because without it they might still be playing. Federer said:
I respect whatever the rule is.
Imagine that, a professional athlete, any athlete, publicly declaring respect for a rule. What a refreshing point of view, especially nowadays when respect for anything, rules, authority, oneself is a vanishing commodity.
We see it on a daily basis. We saw it last week when a minor league pitching coach got thrown out of an Atlantic League game for arguing balls and strikes called by an electronic pitch-calling program. This is where we are at right now: arguing decisions not even made by a human!
Now, in fairness to the coach – former major league pitcher Frank Viola – he wasn’t actually arguing with a computer program, he was arguing with the plate umpire who declined to exercise his prerogative to overrule the electronic umpire, something you probably won’t see unless a pitch that ends up in the nickel seats is called a strike. Viola completely lost his mind, something we are seeing more and more of in sports, and elsewhere, nowadays. Lighten up, Frank. You are arguing, in essence, with an experimental technology that your league is the petri dish for. There was no reason to take to DefCon 1.
And, of course, there are the daily examples provided by our president, Donal Trump, who every day continues to ignore the rules of protocol and civilized discourse. In fact, the only rule Trump seems to follow is the rule – usually adhered to only by first-graders – of drawing as much attention to yourself as possible.
We continue to tolerate it, though. We are tolerating the blather and the venom and the racism and friends when we ignore our leader(s) ignoring these rules we are ignoring them ourselves. There are no two ways about it.
We deserve better than this. We deserve an America that has some sort of dignity and respect for decorum, for others, and for ourselves. We are not going to get the America we deserve though, until we start demanding it, both individually and collectively.