Not So Deep Thoughts: Opening Up with Andre Agassi

Let me preface the following by saying I’m a mild tennis fan at best
and I have yet to read (plan to) Andre Agassi’s new book, “Open: An
Autobiography.” After I do read it I will be better equipped to defend
him or pile on like so many others are already. But until then, I’ll
just throw in my two cents on the incredible admissions he makes in the
book such as using crystal meth, being forced to play tennis by his
overbearing father, wearing a hairpiece to cover his rapidly balding
head and even tanking some tennis matches early in his career.

Those admissions have been met with mixed reviews in the tennis and
sports world. Several current and former players have been slamming
Agassi for the drug use and even more so for lying to a tennis official
about the reason behind a failed drug test. One such player, Marit
Safin, has gone so far as to say that Agassi should give back all the
money and trophies he won during that stage of his career, while others
have applauded his brutal honesty.

I won’t have a strong opinion either way until I get my hands on a copy
of the book but as far as the Safin comments go, I initially thought it
sounded like sour grapes, jealousy and an uninformed opinion. We’ve all
had that rival that has simply owned us at something. You know the one,
the guy who just seems to always win, whether it’s playing golf or
fantasy football, he just has your number. But after some research, I
found out that isn’t the case here, as Safin has squared off against
Agassi six times with each player winning three times.

So I wasn’t exactly sure why Safin was so incensed by the revelations
in the book but after digging into his comments some more it could be
because in the process of “coming clean” to his mistakes, Agassi
willingly threw several tennis officials and ultimately the integrity
of the game itself under the bus. Agassi claims in the book that once
the officials made him aware of a failed drug test, that he talked his
way out of it ever becoming public by lying about it. He told officials
that somebody had slipped something into his drink and because he was
one of the most popular and charizmatic players on a Tour that needed
about 12 more players of similar makeup to make it semi-interesting,
the bought his story and never went public with the news. That’s the
jealous aspect I mentioned. Perhaps Safin wondered aloud if he would
have been treated the same way under the same circumstances. Unfair or
not, Safin likely would not have met a similra fate. As we all know,
image is everything, and Agassi’s image is and was at the time, far
more compelling than the Russian with the high-powered serve.

Other players have bashed Agassi for his now admitted drug use, saying
that his career is now tarnished in much the same way that Roger
Clemens was after it was proven that Clemens used Performance Enhancing
Drugs. But those same people should check the facts before making such
an assanine statement because using steroids does in fact provide
athletes with an advantage over those that don’t while snorting crystal
meth is only going to provide an advantage to Agassi’s dealer. If
anybody can increase their performance at any sport by using crystal
meth, I’d love to see it. If we’re talking about a competitive
drinking contest perhaps, but not playing tennis against the best
players in the world that’s for sure.

Because Agassi’s book is fresh and full of shocking news, opinions
right now are strong to defend him and feel sorry for him and equally
strong in the opposite spectrum. My guess is that once the storm
subsides a bit, Agassi will again be looked at as the same great
ambassador for the game he was two weeks ago before the book came out.
Until then, we’ll all likely  continue to serve and volley on the topic
and lob our opinions all over the place making a case for whatever side
of the net your opinion falls on. And because a book like this illicit
those type of heated responses, blog entries and sports radio
comments by the thousands, Agassi’s book is already a winner, game,
set, match.   

Comments are closed.