Big boys don’t cry! Why? Apparently, crying is a sign of weakness, it’s not ‘manly’. How convenient an answer! The truth is God messed up while he was wiring up a man’s brain, conveniently insulating the ‘cry’ wire, making it emotion-proof.
But nothing is perfect and that’s how some men tear apart all barriers and make a statement by crying. For them, it is just another emotion. Sensible!
“I can cry like Roger, just a shame I can’t play like him,” said Andy Murray after being thrashed by Federer in the 2010 Australian Open final. It wasn’t the first time we saw a tennis player break down.
The sight of Federer weeping uncontrollably post his heart-breaking loss to Rafael Nadal in 2009 at Melbourne Park is still fresh in my memory. I had all the reasons to celebrate that night, for my dear Rafa had won but that wasn’t the case. “God, it’s killing me,” said the Swiss master, finding it difficult to pull himself together. And then he uttered something which only a player of his calibre could do. “I don’t want to have the last word; this guy deserves it,” he said, pointing at Nadal. He had me at that statement. Respect!
It wasn’t that Federer was crying for the first time, but earlier it had mostly been tears of joy! It showed his love for the game and what pressure could do to even a champion like him. Yet, in no way did it make him less manly, or ‘weak’. It showed that champions can be vulnerable too. Losses hurt, and they are as much a mortal as we are.
That night, the world didn’t laugh at him for crying. They cried with him.
So how would you compare it to a similar incident at the 1995 Australian Open quarterfinal? We all remember the encounter between Pete Sampras and Jim Courier. The difference was that Sampras, who displayed raw emotions, was at the winning end. He was devastated after his coach Tim Gullikson was diagnosed with brain tumour.
Just ahead of the fifth set, a fan yelled out saying, “Do it for your coach, Pete.” That triggered Sampras’s breakdown.
These are just a few passing examples of men of honour giving in to emotions in front of millions.
The Australian Open final is fast approaching and don’t be taken aback if you see another star crying at the end of it. For vulnerability is also a trait of the champion!