Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Uncle Toni
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Uncle Toni 10/21/2008 - 2:30 PM

by Pete Bodo

You hang around this game long enough and you come across an impressive array of coaching types. You have the controversial Svengalis, among whom the outstanding model is Ion Tiriac. Early in his young career, Guillermo Vilas essentially said: "Here I am, make of me what you will." And Tiriac, with a great feeling for Vilas's character and appetite for work, transformed the young Argentine into a clay-court master who would be eclipsed, historically, only by Bjorn Borg and Rafael Nadal.

Hugs Then you have the tennis nuts, among whom Nick Bollettieri stands out. Operating on the powerful platform of his tennis academy, Bollettieri left his imprint on the contemporary game by articulating what I ultimately came to call the New World Game, based on aggressive baseline play with an emphasis on the forehand and taking the ball on the rise; Bollettieri down-sized the game, more or less eliminating the approach shot in favor of the sizzling placement hit from inside the baseline, usually with the forehand. His proteges are well known, starting with Jimmy Arias and on through Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Monica Seles and others. And, more than any other coach of a top player, Bollettieri has been a general tennis evangelist, spreading the gospel of tennis near and far with his eponymous academy serving as a kind of Vatican for his converts.

You have sports nuts: Brad Gilbert is a sports nut who happened to gravitate to tennis, both as a player and a coach. One of the greatest assets of this type of coach is the ability to put tennis into a general context, enabling players to ramp up their ability as competitors. Gilbert knows his X's and O's as well as anyone - yet one of his most telling coaching ploys was convincing Andy Roddick to dump that dorky visor he used to wear in favor of the more muscular, duck-bill cap. It helped Roddick earn the world no. 1 ranking.

You also have the purists: Think Paul Annacone. Although Annacone had a healthy passion for all sports, he was a true connisseur of tennis in all of its strategic, technical, and psychological dimensions. He was the perfect fit for Pete Sampras, a great believer in the less-is-more approach to most things, including his tennis. Annacone's thoughtful but never overly cerebral or byzantine analyses resonated with Sampras in what might be the most productive, successful, and, well, dignified coach-protege relationship of our time.

And then there are the mentors, the coaches who shape and mold players the way that a favorite college professor, minister, or immediate superior at your first full time job influenced you. These men and women aren't Svengalis, painting their own portraits on the canvas of a player's soul in a process that's often a tame and sunny version of that literary staple, the deal with the devil. The mentors are first and foremost tennis coaches, yet they're wise, discreet, principled and, ultimate, caring. They're just as interested in shaping young minds as exuberantly and sometimes wildly youthful games. They try to develop character, and not always for selfless reasons, because they are masters of understanding the relationship character can have to a player's results and motivations.

Bob Brett, who at various times coached Andres Gomez, Boris Becker, Goran Ivanisevic, Mario Ancic (he's currently working with Marin Cilic), is one of the great mentors - and still one of my favorite people in tennis. An old-school disciple of Harry Hopman, Brett left Australia because he was spurned and shut out of the official cabal comprised of former Grand Slam champions and lifelong bureaucrats, Brett believed in tennis, character is destiny. He felt that if he could shape and improve the character of his players, it would produce results on the tennis court.

Bob once told me a long story about a discussion he had with Goran Ivanisevic about. . . towels. The details are insignificant, but they had to do with the way Goran disposed of the official tournament towels he used, and Brett's intent was to get Ivanisevic to think about actions and consequences, profligacy and trusteeship. It  was about towels, sure, but it was also about holding serve and about realizing that you have only so many chances to throw away - or capitalize upon - in your career. For a young player who sees nothing but future, and therefore knows nothing about regret, who never has to pay a dime for anything, and to whom everything is replaceable (by someone else, of course) at the snap of a finger, understanding about towels is a kind of doorway to understanding about digging a little deeper when you're about to lose a first-rounder in Vienna, or to getting over your disgruntlement because the drinks in the court-side cooler aren't cold enough for your taste.

Toni Nadal is a mentor, perhaps to an even greater degree than Brett. When El Jon Wertheim and I sat down with him at the US Open to plumb his coaching philosophy and background, neither of us knew exactly what to expect. Even to us as journalists, Toni has been a somewhat enigmatic figure - was he support team, family member, minder, tactician, strategist, emotional anchor?  Although he's been a bona fide tennis coach for decades (he once coached the no. 2 junior in Spain), it's almost impossible to get Toni to focus on the X's and O's - so much so that neither El Jon nor I even thought to ask him about strategic or technical issues, except in terms of Nadal's development (Did anybody ever try to change his radical style, we asked?).

When we opened the conversation with a broad question about his strengths and assets as a coach, it opened the floodgates on philosophy of life, rather than philosophy of tennis. And the two most striking words in Toni's first answer were "normal" and "discipline."

You'll have to wait until the January-February issue of Tennis to read the interview and some of Toni's most revealing and interesting replies to our questions. But I feel safe saying that  you'll be nothing less than astonished at the degree to which Rafael's (Toni never calls his nephew and protege "Rafa") development was more like basic training in life than an advanced education in tennis, with an emphasis on all the bells and whistles currently attached to our views of fitness, technique, nutrition and even equipment. Hail, Toni actually chose to practice on lousy courts with bad balls, just to teach young Rafael that winning or losing isn't about good balls or courts or strings or lights. It's about attitude, discipline, and perhaps most importantly, perspective.

The latter is such a signficant component precisely because perspective may be the hardest of all things to maintain once you hit a certain level in tennis - and players of far lesser talent than Nadal routinely hit that level at the age of 16, 17 - a time in young lives when the concept of perspective is about as familiar as quantum physics. If Toni Nadal has an outstanding virtue, it may be his fidelity to what you might call a grounded, normal life. He has fiercely resisted what might be called the decadence (with a small "d") that lays low so many players - and their coaches, who become accustomed to the cushy life of the tour. In this regard, it really helps Toni that he doesn't collect a paycheck from his nephew - and he knows it.

When you hear Toni speak about tennis and how he developed Nadal, you can't help but wonder how anyone could have so adamantly resisted transformation and the lure of over-complication. That resistance is beautifully reflected in Rafael's rough-hewn game, but also in his more subtle, long-standing refusal to take his place in what, at the heyday of Federer's dominance, seemed a pre-ordained hierarchy with which everyone grew comfortable.

I'm convinced that Toni's general resistance to entering the tennis mainstream and embracing the values of its somewhat warped culture was transmitted to his nephew, and helps account for the doggedness with which he pursued The Mighty Fed - acknowledging his rival's superiority at every turn but also never forgetting that his own mission was to work hard and give his best, let the chips fall where they may. He pursued Federer with remarkable determination, yet it was never about catching Federer per se.

In a sneaky way, Rafael Nadal is an outsider, and Toni is partly responsible for his nephew's ability to resist becoming just another guy content to go to work to take his cut, or getting all tangled up in conflicting feelings of respect, envy and resentment toward his great nemesis. And Toni seemingly achieved that without ever once resorting to platitudes about winning being "everything", or the value of being the no. 1 player in the world.

Toni simply doesn't talk in those terms. He talks about discipline, self-sufficiency (Toni refuses to take his nephew's rackets for stringing, on the grounds that Rafael's the one who has to play with the danged things. Besides, Rafael has all the time in the world when he's at a tournament, so why shouldn't he be the one dealing with that kind of thing?), and hard work and respect for everyone, regardless of his or her station in life. That may sound hokey, or carefully orchestrated to project a certain image for Toni or Rafael. All I can say is that we spent well over hour talking with Toni, and I've yet to meet someone whose true colors aren't revealed, in or between the lines, over a period of that length.

Toni Physically, Toni isn't nearly as imposing as he sometimes appears on television. He's thickly built and swarthy, but at times the light in his eyes is almost child-like. He's a realist, but given to speaking in parables, and his basic tone is philosophical. Talking to him, you can see where Rafael  got his talent for disarming loaded questions about his rivalry with Federer by pointing out the obvious: by number of major titles and ranking points, Roger Federer is by definition the best player in the world. Anything else is mere speculation or wishful thinking.

Toni studied history at the university level, but he's no intellectual. He laughs easily,  Here are some of the questions that I had to leave out of the published interview, due to space limitiations. So consider this just a brief glimpse into Toni Nadal, how he thinks, and the values he brings to the table for Rafael:

Q: Does Rafa ever complain about the perils and pressures of his position?

A: No, because he never complain about being no. 2. He already happy being there. I try always to explain to him, things that happen in life, everything has a positive and a negative. When you shoot a gun, it give you a kick in the shoulder, right? Same thing. There’s more pressure when you’re at the top, so that’s the kick back from being no. 1. A lot of people have it worse than him, they have to work much harder than him, for less, and they do it.

Q: What role does religion play in your life?

Zero. I don’t believe. I studied history in university. Religion comes from ignorance in people. Tribal societies, when they see a flash of lightning or something unusual, they say it come from the Magician. But when society move forward, and technology discover more, religion goes in the back. For me, is very important to be moral – to be good person. But not religion.

Q: What would Rafa be doing if he couldn’t play tennis any more?

A: I would like him to be involved in Spanish Olympic movement and committee, and to do things for other people. Doing things to improve the society. Whatever he wants. 

Q: Are you concerned, as a  human being, that Rafael is just being driven and pushed like a racehorse, and suffering in other aspects of his life, or education?

A: I was in university, but to me it’s not very important. For me, the important thing in life is to have an interest in things. I come here to learn something about American people. I like to see the television, what people are watching. To me, the thing is to be interested, maybe read newspapers. At the moment, young people not too interested in things. Is a pity. But when you spend so much time to be a good tennis player, journalist, business manager, you cannot do much else.

You always give up some things to have other things. When I go with girlfriend, I cannot be here. When Rafael is here, he loses chance to be at the beach with his friends. But when he’s at beach, he loses chance to be here. You cannot have everything. In this life, you have this -  or that. So for Rafael, he has a good life at the moment, like me, no? I am very happy to be sitting at my house at home in front of the beach and my garden, but if I am there all the time I am bored. When I speak with one of my kids (Toni has three) I think it better to be there, with them. But then I cannot be here, at US Open. it is always a choice: this – or that.

Q: You don’t wear a wedding ring?

A: I have three kids but no ring. I am not married because of my philosophy. When I have a friend, I don’t have to tell other people, “This is my friend!” I have not just one friend, and my girlfriend is my friend.

Q: Are a man like you and a youngster like Rafael comfortable, culturally, at a place like Wimbledon?

A: Well, I have a different concept of life. I believe that all these formalities are just because of where it is, and I understand it. But I like a more normal life, and I think Rafael is a more normal person.

For example, (Carlos) Moya is a very kind person, a good person, but he was here and when he need a car I see that he told his coach, “Phone for the driver.”  When you get used to doing nothing for yourself, it’s too easy. With Rafael, I say in that situation, do it yourself. It’s better. This was my work with him.

For me, at the moment it seem that young people have not too much interest in things, because everything is too easy for them. When I have a mobile phone, is easy, all the things. You want meeting with friend, boom-boom, it's done. When I was young, studying in Barcelona, when I came home I didn't know where my friends were. I had to go look for them. Today, it's easier, but people have no great interest in learning and knowing things. This is normal, but maybe not so good.

In this life, the most important things can’t control, like your health. Maybe your girlfriend, if she don’t want to go with you no more, then you have a problem. You must be prepared for this. When things go good, I want this, I have, I want that, I have - but then you are not prepared for when things go bad. I always try to prepare Rafael for everything.

Q: Many guys out there have five cars, three houses, even a share in  a jet. What does Rafa own?

A: At the moment, Rafael have nothing. He has not house, because his parents have money and some good houses. He has some cars - one from a sponsor (KIA), one Mercedes he win in Stuttgart. But personally for me is no is no good that young man have a good car. I don’t like to see a young people have things like that.

What do you do together, hobby-wise?

A: Rafael like fishing very much. Together, we like soccer and golf. We play golf together with another brother of mine (Miguel Angel Nadal, the former pro soccer star).


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Posted by cricket 10/21/2008 at 10:48 PM

Has Rosangel posted those much-anticipated photos of Rafa and Feli yet?

Posted by Codge 10/21/2008 at 10:50 PM

I've been waiting for this report...finally!

Tony regulary gives indepth interviews with international media especially the spanish press. It's amazing the English speaking press haven't done features on the man behind the most exciting player in tennis for the past 3 years.

I'll have to pick up the mag when the full report is out.
Toni also has very interesting and astute ideas about the business of tennis. Hope the full report includes his insight

Posted by crazyone 10/21/2008 at 10:57 PM

Matt Zemek: I think you miscategorized me. I wasn't even bringing up what I said in terms of politics...just the notion that I hear friends express, that they're afraid their children won't have a proper moral framework without religion...and I found it refreshing to have a counter-example, especially given Toni's emphasis on humility, an aspect of morality that often is coupled with religiousity...at any rate I don't think one needs to be part of some "progressive" school of social thought to believe that a person can have morals without belonging to an organized religion...this seems more like general world-awareness to me, because there are plenty of examples around.

I just had a conversation about this recently with a friend, which is probably why I was struck by it...on another day I might have been a bit more troubled by the "religion=the relic of our ignorant past" bit...

Posted by Aussie Angel (All Aboard the Crazy Elf Train) 10/21/2008 at 10:58 PM

Tari I was going to post the same thing as you but decided not to. We can be ignorant together.

Posted by Victory 10/21/2008 at 11:19 PM

This is an amazing article. The interview is amazing and has given me a perspective I never had about Toni Nadal. Rafa Nadal is very fortunate to have him.

Posted by Rosangel 10/21/2008 at 11:50 PM

I don't think that in a forum like this there is any point in debating fixed points of view on either side of the "religious" or "not religious" divide. Clearly by definition members of both sides are likely to have a view about the others' life philosophy that might offend if expressed in a particular way.

crazyone: I have always experienced morality as a separate concept from religion.

Posted by malimeda 10/21/2008 at 11:58 PM

Yes, Rafa is the "first nephew", the oldest child in the extended family, with 3 uncles and 1 aunt all younger than his dad and all having small children. In all photos and vids with any of them he's like another uncle, naturally taking care of them, feeding them, seriously talking to them, playing with them.

Here is Rafa and his sister Maribel with the bunch of their young cousins while on a special joint trip to Paris Disneyland during RG 2006:
http://tinyurl.com/594tjb

Having so much kids around, Rafa is visibly easygoing and autoritative with them, whether they are his kin, friends' children, little fans, charity or publicity contacts.

Pinching cheek of one of Toni's daughters:
http://tinyurl.com/6fq46k

Really interacting with his wee fan:
http://tinyurl.com/6e9e9p

Playing with a Down's syndrome little girl during a charity event:
http://tinyurl.com/5h3oxs

Posted by crazyone 10/22/2008 at 12:02 AM

*crazyone: I have always experienced morality as a separate concept from religion.*

This is by no means a universal viewpoint...anyway it was just something I was struck by due to a recent conversation. Probably should have just let it pass.

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 12:04 AM

" All 3 men are 48 years old, all live on Mallorca, all are something of offbeat homemade "philosphers" who stress "not the goal but the path", "everything is complementary" approach and not the extreme pressure tennis-academy-style target drilling as paramount. "

Malimeda: This is such an important point to punctuate (imo) and makes so much sense when you hear Rafa himself say things like "I accept the losses with the same calm as the wins" (or something close to that)...this is what someone says when they are looking more at the journey rather than present results. What a nice and sort of "zen" way to handle what can obviously be a high pressure experience (dealing with a loss)

Malimeda This is such an important point to punctuate (imo) and makes so much sense when you hear Rafa himself say things like "I accept the losses with the same calm as the wins" (or something close to that)...this is what someone says when they are looking more at the journey rather than present results.

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 12:05 AM

Sorry about the double paragraph there! What the heck? Maybe it is a sign...just kidding. lol

Posted by rafadoc 10/22/2008 at 12:10 AM

Malimeda Thanks for the insight and pictures...one thing is for sure...whatever impact Uncle Toni has, Rafa seems like a very, very, happy person.

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 12:17 AM

>they're afraid their children won't have a proper moral framework without religion

As a non-religious person, this kind of thinking really hits a nerve.


While I understand perfectly why religious people will find Tony's statement offensive, consider also that religious people similarly feel that they are better for having religion and that those who do not believe are lacking something. That view is equally offensive to the non-believers. In the end, it's not a topic that we can all agree on.

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 12:20 AM

malimeda thanks for the pics.

And just wait until Pete does that political post he's been mentioning, then we'll really be in for it :)

'night.

Posted by Syd 10/22/2008 at 12:21 AM

G'd nite Sher: :)

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 12:22 AM

>Wonder why Toni had to bring Carlos Moya and his car ordering habits into this?

Syd, I figure that means they are close enough that he knows Carlos won't take offense...

Posted by Syd 10/22/2008 at 12:26 AM

Sher:

Perhaps, perhaps. But whenever you bring another's name and actions into an arugment as a negative example, I wouldn't be surprised if some feelings were hurt. Plus, there's a little too much of "the right way" inherent in Toni's statements for my taste and just a hint of smugness that turns me off.

Posted by felizjulianidad 10/22/2008 at 12:37 AM

Religiosity has always disturbed me, so I was startled when I read the "what role does religion play in your life?" question. American religiosity is one of the local quirks that always drove me bonkers when I lived there.

Pete, a few months ago El País ran a large piece on the Nadal family, where it states that Rafael's parents entrust his tennis training exclusively to Tío Toni, but absolutely nothing off the court. To begin with, Tío Toni is a diehard "culé" (FC Barcelona fan), like the other uncle Miquel Àngel. Rafael, though (as is well known) is a lifelong Real Madrid fan--Miquel Àngel jokingly explained in an interview once that "no lo sé, el chico nos salió rana, siempre le tiró el Madrid". Tío Toni is pro-Catalan language and feels a strong tie with Barcelona as a city; Rafael (though apolitical) is pro-Spain it seems like for him, any parts of Spain that aren't Mallorca are all equally second place to his island. Everyone in the family speaks Mallorquí as their first language, and Spanish as their second. Rafael himself speaks discernibly better Spanish than he did five years ago (parallel to his rise to stardom), and Tío Toni has an extremely local accent (he often says "t" on Spanish words that use "d"--"universitat" instead of "universidad" for example).

Samuel Huntington believes that American religiosity and European secularism aren't a point of discord and that "the West" is one civilization, but I'm not so sure. I'm still amazed at the "religion" question.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 10/22/2008 at 12:46 AM

b4, i provide some definitive and extremely profound observations regarding religion and morality in a separate post, I will say the following:

The Tennis Channel repeatedly transmits a half-hour show on Carlos Moya.

What does he spend a good amount of his time yakking about?

His damn cars.

One might hope he had something more interesting to discuss in a show about his life.

Oh, I forgot what Carlos' profession is.

In any case, I can understand how Carlos' possible overpreoccupation with cars might impact Gabby Toni's conversation.

Posted by Syd 10/22/2008 at 01:04 AM

felizjulianidad;

fascinating stuff.

Posted by malimeda 10/22/2008 at 01:08 AM

"I'm happy on and off the court" - quote from one of Rafa's interviews.

As for Toni and hugs, here's him hugging Rafa at RG 2007:
http://tinyurl.com/55v9qy
http://tinyurl.com/6zs5z2

Toni is not Rafa's father but his uncle and coach, so they hug with triumph and joy. Teary hugs are with his dad & mum, for eg. at Wimbly 2008:
http://tinyurl.com/6onn4t

Toni joins the hug (while Federer Sr. applauds):
http://tinyurl.com/6xazml

Posted by crazyone 10/22/2008 at 01:19 AM

based on Rafa's shirt in that last picture, it looks like Wimbledon is played on the dirt--no wonder Rafa won ;)

Posted by Syd 10/22/2008 at 01:23 AM

malimeda:

Thanks for the images-- I love the one with his mom and dad - so emotional.

Posted by tso 10/22/2008 at 02:07 AM

Toni Nadal is a walking contradiction.

Uncle Toni does not ‘believe in Religion’ but he considers himself “moral”? What is the source and basis of any system of morality? Isn’t it a conception of right and wrong essentially in relation to a spiritual reality/

Uncle Toni thinks he is “moral” but he has three children without being married. Is “marriage’ not part of being “moral’ in view of the interest/well-being of children?

Uncle Toni relates being “moral’ to ‘trade-offs’ (either this or that) and his order of priorities. What over-simplification.

Uncle Toni went to college to study history, but thinks education is not important for Rafa!!!

Oh my God, do you want a World Number One to talk like an idiot? He needs knowledge at least to manage his own prize money and survive when his star in tennis has long faded.

Uncle Toni, hello? Ever heard of the theory of “human capital”?

Why did Venus Williams -- with more Slams, more money, more forward-looking business interests than Rafa – humble herself, go back to school, and pick up an Associate of Arts degree in Florida through a life of sacrifice?

It’s about ‘human capital’ – the effort to enhance one’s ‘embodied assets’ even though they may not have monetary equivalent.

Now Let Venus Williams teach Uncle Toni a lesson or two about being ‘normal,’ ‘disciplined’ and ‘grounded.’

In sum, Uncle Toni does not seem to have a ‘soul.’ He represents mediocrity trying to sound ‘profound.’

Posted by jabeau 10/22/2008 at 02:12 AM

Good article, Pete, really enjoyed it.
Just one question - if Tio Tony was speaking Spanish (I think he doesn't speak English) and his answers are translated, why are there so many grammatical mistakes in them? Even if he talks English, the mistakes should be corrected for a written interview.

I like that he calls his nephew 'Rafael' and I like that you call him that too.

Posted by Charles 10/22/2008 at 02:16 AM

Wonderful article, Pete!
it takes wisdom to present what Uncle Toni said fairly.
Thank-you.

Posted by the original tina 10/22/2008 at 02:19 AM

Erm, this soooooooo wasn't me:

[Posted by tina 10/21/2008 @ 8:25 PM

Toni has complete control over his "racehorse", it seems. Very creepy - he may as well be Jim Pierce.]

hey, other tina - unless you want to be confused with me, you might want to change your username. As for me, the O.T., I don't see any similarity at all with Jim Pierce.

Posted by rg.nadal (leosash.wordpress.com) 10/22/2008 at 02:23 AM

Good interview.

Posted by silvasurfa 10/22/2008 at 02:27 AM

speaking of "cushy life of the tour",
do any of you think ernests gulbis' privileged background will prevent him from achieving what his talent ought to achieve?

every youngster seems to be making his move. nadal, then djokovic, murray. a bit of monfils and tsonga. del potro and cilic.

the frustrating ones are gasquet and to a lesser extent donald young.

four years ago the rivalry was supposed to be federer-roddick and the rivalry of the future was supposed to be nadal-gasquet. instead we got nadal-federer. probably the greatest rivalry the sport has ever seen.

too bad we never had roddick-gasquet. roddick's almost done. gasquet seems content of making it to the top 8.

WHERE ARE YOU GASQUET??????????

WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE A SAFIN AND A NALBANDIAN AND A RIOS?

OR A FREAKIN' MALISSE? FU*K THAT MALISSE!

that guy malisse,talentwise, is at worst a top 5 player yet he only peaked at no.19!

RICHARD, why can't you be what your capabilities ought to be?

with so many talented frenchmen, their no.1 right now is G.Simon.(no offense gilles, i adore you)

WAKE UP GASQUET!

ciao hommies

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 02:28 AM

Tony, "unoriginal and unconventional view". Word.

Russ, I don't often agree with you but in your 10:15 PM post, I am with you. As a person of faith, the abrasive "diss" of people against religion is highly offensive.

Matt Zemek, What you said re: rediscovering religion in its simple and beautiful essence resonates strongly with me. As someone who loves Theology (and theologizing), your words are timely and much appreciated. Thank you.

Sher, Ideally one shouldn't have to force an agreement on matters of faith. If I think I'm better off because of religion, it does not mean that others are worse off for not having one. It paints a false picture of the original point which is how religion has brought me joy I might have missed had I not believed in a particular way.

Pete Bodo, I haven't been this moved about Rafael in a while now. Until today. Thank you for writing this post; I appreciated it very much.

Posted by jabeau 10/22/2008 at 02:31 AM

Malimeda,
thanks for your posts and the pictures. I think the photo in the article was taken when Tio Toni was just about hugging Rafael; it's the second before.
Given Rafa's profuse sweating and preference to roll in the dirt after winning, who could blame Toni's careful hugs?

Posted by JB 10/22/2008 at 02:35 AM

Tso. I don't know what's more frightening; the fact that your post is narrow-minded and judgemental, or the fact that you don't seem to realise how narrow minded and judgemental it is. Religious ideals of what is 'moral', such as marriage being necessary in order to raise happy, well-rounded children, are in no way fact. Far more important is a stable, loving environment: marriage is a contract, nothing more.

In terms of education, he was pretty clearly talking about formal education not, in itself, being a vital part of a person: it's the learning that's important, not the method you implement to do it. I'm a university graduate many times over, and I agree completely.

As for morality relying on religion, that is simply absurd. Being a productive, well rounded member of society has nothing to do with God. To say that Uncle Toni is soulless, whether you are religious or not, is reprehensible, particularly as your reasons for saying it are completely unfounded.

Posted by jewell 10/22/2008 at 02:39 AM

*LOVES*

That is all I have to say. :)

Oh yes, and thanks, Pete!

(and to Malimeda for all lovely pictures)

Posted by Katrina 10/22/2008 at 02:46 AM

Malimeda! The photos of Tio Toni embracing Rafa during RG 2007 are adorable. Love them!

Posted by tso 10/22/2008 at 02:47 AM

J.B.

this is narrow-minded: "marriage is a contract, nothing more"

this is narrow-minded: "education is merely formal education." there's continuing self-education, life-long education.

this is narrow-minded: "being productive, well-rounded member of society" is moral?

you haven't heard of 'productive ones' whose success came from cheating, dishonest business, corruption, robbing their fellowmen blind using computer keyboard?

equating productivity with morality?

i wonder who's narrow-minded and "judgemental"?

Posted by The tennis ghost 10/22/2008 at 03:04 AM

"Uncle Toni does not ‘believe in Religion’ but he considers himself “moral”? What is the source and basis of any system of morality? Isn’t it a conception of right and wrong essentially in relation to a spiritual reality/"

tso - What you said above is wrong in every sense of the world as far as I'm concerned. Do you need any "source of morality" to maintain your morality?? Do you need "conceptual of right and wrong" to be able to tell the rights from the wrongs? I have more faith in the good of mankind more than you do.

And you overrated the 'formal education' big time. People can learn more from their life experiences than from the books.

In fact, I disagree with 99% of what you said in your comment but I'd rather stop now.

Posted by JB 10/22/2008 at 03:07 AM

tso,

I in no way meant that productivity in that sense is equal to morality. If you aren't aware of the colloquialism, the reference to a "productive, well rounded member of society" has absolutely no inference of material wealth; it refers to someone who contributes in terms of community support. All I meant is that that, in iself, is not dependent on religion. My comments on marriage were meant in a similar context. The idea of a stable, committed relationship is not dependent on a marriage (that is, the signing of a marriage contract). As for your assertion that ""education is merely formal education." there's continuing self-education, life-long education."; that is exactly what I was saying. And what Toni implied in the interview. Why are you accussing me of narrow-mindedness and yet saying exactly the same thing as me?

I certainly have no objection to anyone being religious (particularly as I am Catholic). I simply object to someone implying that religion is necessary in order for one to be a good person.

Posted by JB 10/22/2008 at 03:11 AM

Whoops, deleted half a sentence

"As for your assertion that ""education is merely formal education." there's continuing self-education, life-long education."; that is exactly what I was saying. And what Toni implied in the interview. Why are you accusing me of narrow-mindedness and yet saying exactly the same thing as me?"

SHOULD READ

As for your assertion that I MEANT THAT "education is merely formal education." AND THAT YOU BELIEVE THAT "there's continuing self-education, life-long education."; that is exactly what I was saying. And what Toni implied in the interview. Why are you accussing me of narrow-mindedness and yet saying exactly the same thing as me?

Posted by felizjulianidad 10/22/2008 at 03:45 AM

JB and the tennis ghost,

Tso clearly has issues. In a discussion about Tío Toni, he's talking about people cheating their way in business through robbing their colleagues blind via a keyboard.

The idea that this can be somehow related to Rafael and Antoni Nadal's social views is ludicrous.

That is, of course, if you, like me, were egged on by curiousity, when we should've stopped at the "Uncle Toni does not ‘believe in Religion’ but he considers himself “moral”?" opening line.

That is all you need to know about this fellow named Tso.

Posted by Iniesta 10/22/2008 at 03:53 AM

Most Mallorcan's consider themselfs Catalanes, which includes Barcelona and all the cities along the mediterranean from north to south... Valencia, Alicante, etc. Im glad that Rafa Likes Real Madrid and he embraces all of Spain, not just the mediterranean side of Spain. As a Galician, the celtic part of Spain, I also embrace Catalonia as my country. Spain is a united kingdom of many kingdoms and Rafael embraces all of them, that is why he is so loved all over Spain.

Posted by Farid 10/22/2008 at 04:08 AM

Uncle Nadal is the person behind the conspiracy to make Tennis looks like Boxing !!! and he will fail..definitely!!

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 04:28 AM

huzzah for Farid.

Posted by rg.nadal (leosash.wordpress.com) 10/22/2008 at 04:37 AM

Iniesta: That was an interesting point. Thank you.

Posted by Moderator 10/22/2008 at 04:45 AM

JB and "tina"
We already have regular posters on this site known as jb and as tina, so to continue posting here, you will need to choose distinguishing screen names to avoid confusion.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 10/22/2008 at 05:04 AM

Farid, 4:08.

What conspiracy?

Similarities between boxing and tennis have long been noted by knowledgeable observers of tennis.

In fact, Bill Riordan emphasized those similarities in the "Challenge Matches" he set up in the 1970s.

Who was Bill Riordan?

Look it up.

What were the Challenge Matches?

Look it up.

Some might find analogies between the Rafa-Federer matches and the first Ali-Frazier fight.

Who is Ali?

Look it up.

Who is Joe Frazier?

Look it up.

Posted by Rafa Rocks - vamos número uno 10/22/2008 at 05:23 AM

Tio Toni is a genius. He is a great man, great mentor, and wonderful human being. And one of the main reasons why Rafael has not only became the best tennis player in the world but also one of the most humble, professional and gracious sportsmen and humans.

Posted by Farid 10/22/2008 at 05:54 AM

manuelsantanafan,

I didn't mean the "fighting" aspect in terms of competitiveness, but the muscles !!!
you totally missed the point !

Posted by manuelsantanafan 10/22/2008 at 06:08 AM

Farid:

So you believe that Rafa is overly musclebound?

Then you probably disapprove of the following winners of majors: Guillermo Vilas, Thomas Muster, and Lew Hoad. Different strokes for different folks.

FYI, not all top pugilists are musclebound. Slim world-class boxers have included Thomas Hearns, Sandy Sadler, and Diego Corrales.

Posted by Sara 10/22/2008 at 06:22 AM

i was very shocked by what he said about religion, i cudnt move on to the 3rd question for about 10 minutes.

Posted by roGER 10/22/2008 at 06:35 AM

Interesting interview about a fascinating man.

I wouldn't get too worked up about the religion thing - here in Europe, many people are agnostic or atheist and it isn't unusual to state those beliefs.

****

My slight concern is what is happening to Raffa's money? He seems to be somehow supporting or part of the family business - is that right? The story about having to effectively beg for the laptop is vile - he earned that money fair and square and a laptop is hardly an indulgence!

I hope and believe that Raffa's family are looking after him and his vast earnings.

But sadly there are examples in tennis history (e.g Peter Graff) where parents have not handled their children's money responsibly or fairly. My advice to Raffa would be to take an interest in your financial affairs; if there's nothing to hide, nobody in the family will object.

Posted by Roger for President 10/22/2008 at 06:40 AM

Under my point of view Toni Nadal (and everyone else) is free to believe or not, to be religious or not...But I agree with many people here that the terms of the answer where somehow offensive for us, believers. Anyway he must have some kind of moral, because his "Rafael" has never been seen doing or saying anything offensive to anyone (as far as I know).

However this is a tennis forum, so better stop talking about religion. What makes this interview interesting is the fact that much of Rafael Nadal´s mental toughness may directly come from his uncle´s training.

In Spain, where I come from it´s easy to see young "footballers" (soccer players) surrounded by expensive cars, big fiestas and easy girls...And it´s good to see Nadal is far away from that at the moment. He´s got no car-obsession, he is a peacefull mind (he likes fishing, playing football at the beach with his friends) and he still has the same girlfriend he´s always had (a friend of his sisters). That´s what makes Nadal so different then many other "elite sportsmen"...

Let´s not forget Federer does also have some good education in those terms (same girlfriend for a longtime - and not a supermodel type!), always trying to be humble (and that, being Roger, must have been very difficult for him over these years!!).

That´s why I really like Roger and Rafa!

Posted by Mallorcan 10/22/2008 at 06:41 AM

the one who said that some mallorcans consider themselves catalans should know that, for example, for the latest 30+years the 95% of mallorcans have voted for PP or PSOE, (and the other 5% is shared between nationalistic and non nationalistic parties). go figure!!

Posted by Mallorcan 10/22/2008 at 06:44 AM

and to that same person. and since when is Valencia catalonian? need a map? a history lesson? stop poisoning

Posted by Rosangel 10/22/2008 at 06:46 AM

The tennis ghost: try e-mailing me on the address just above. Due to spam, I have to regularly change my e-mail address here; this one should work.

Pete: as matter of interest, was this interview conducted in English, or did you have an interpreter?

Posted by The tennis ghost 10/22/2008 at 07:12 AM

Rosangel; Thanks for that. I've just re-sent you the e-mail.

And I agree with everyone who said we should stop discussing about religious belief as it's a very sensitive subject and has nothing to do with tennis. Toni has every right to believe what he does and as you can see he belief's done anyone no harm.

Posted by rg.nadal (leosash.wordpress.com) 10/22/2008 at 07:14 AM

"Q: What role does religion play in your life?"

Little surprised that the question was posed in the first place...No harm done, just wondering about the intention behind.

Posted by sic (Rafa Nadal, 2008 Year End #1) 10/22/2008 at 07:24 AM

Interesting piece and (mostly) interesting reactions to it; I look forward to reading the complete article.

A couple of observations. Uncle Toni seems to be a classic Secular Humanist. He obviously strongly believes in morality, ethics and justice, but he feels that they should be derived from human reason, philosophy if you will, rather than religion or spirtuality. It's also not surprising that he has such an extreme distaste for religion as he grew up during the Franco dictatorship, during which the Church was one of the pillars of "control" over the population operating in every pueblo and very much exploited the ignorance of the people to maintain their dominance over them. I happen to completely agree with Uncle Toni on most of what he says, although he is a bit extreme about how he applies his philosophy.

Crazyone came up with an astute observation, as always, about how Nadal's background permits this Spartan attitude toward wealth and fame, although I disagree with her conclusion. The point is having this grounded attitude is a better approach to life, a better approach to achieve prolonged happiness, than embracing the "I'm rich and famous" attitude that so many, well, rich and famous people embrace. In reference to what he said about young people owning cars, I think he means young people owning fabulously expensive cars that an older person who has worked their entire life could never afford. He seems to care a great deal about how wealth and good fortune not only affect the individual, but also how it affects community dynamics. Will my neighbor be jealous, will that hurt our relationship, will it hurt the community. I was struck by another interview with Toni where the interviewer noted that he stopped at a service station to wash his car and clean out the inside. Toni said something like, well I have this ridiculously expensive car (another Mercedes won at Stuutgart which Rafa gave to him as a gift), but I hope that if I take care of it myself people won't resent me for owning it. I guess it's a fine sentiment, but in the end an exercise in futility. Success will always be resented by some, and people will always find fault in your actions no matter how noble you try to behave.

Because of this it is not surprising that those who hate all things Nadal have come up with "butt-picking" and "puppeteer" responses to this interview; but those comments reflect more about who they are than who Uncle Toni is.

Posted by Vanessa 10/22/2008 at 07:34 AM

I just took a time to read some of the most recent posts on this article and in my opinion some people are making too much out of it. I have seen Rafa travel to tournaments on his own. I have seen the way he relates to his uncle and his family. I am also half Spanish so have the benefit of a better understanding of family dynamics in that society. I think Toni has been a good influence in Rafa, just as his parents and other extended family have been. But I also agree that things should be kept in perspective and neither Toni or Rafa are perfect or god like. When I read this piece I thought of it in tennis terms and took from it that Rafa's success has a lot to do with Toni. Whether you agree with his views or not, he has been an anchoring force in his career and I believe that other tennis players would have benefitted from a similar influence

Posted by sic (Rafa Nadal, 2008 Year End #1) 10/22/2008 at 07:42 AM

As to the argument as to whether Toni or Tso are "narrow minded" the answer is that they are both trapped in their particular moral matrices. Johnathon Haidt did an excellent presentation about this concept at TED

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

I hight recommend checking it out.

Posted by rg.nadal (leosash.wordpress.com) 10/22/2008 at 07:50 AM

C. Rochus and Soderling post wins today

Posted by marie j vamos rafa numero 1 ! 10/22/2008 at 07:52 AM

as far as i understand toni nadal, you can be a moral person taking the essence of morality in the religion and probably in philosophy or personal experience without embracing any religion...
it's strike me that people here and elsewhere can get offended when religion isn't the essence of your own life and that you can claim : i'm just as good or bad as you are.

everyone is entittled to his opinion, and i'm pretty sure that toni nadal has great views and attitude towards life.
it's not allways about what you believe in or not it's how you conduct yourself according to what you believe in.

you can be atheistic and have great sense of virtues and goodness.

work, ethic, perseverance, discipline, respect, to endure and sacrifice are the words of tio toni to find hapiness... and i'm sure rafa has learn a lesson or two about each one.


it's not said here, but i really think they gave rafa the exact value of what money and fame is... that's why he values his losses as well as his victories.

this is and interview gaved to el pais in august, just before rafa got officially the number one after his winn in cincy... it's just adds to the perspective of pete's interview...

http://tinyurl.com/5wx7r6

i'm not translating everyting just some key phrases of toni

to endure (or suffer) : that's what people don't do nowdays. everything is difficult. Without giving it a religious concept, people are less prone to sacrifice themselves.
even if things are going well for you, you will need to endure things, because everything is not under your control. you have to practice that just like in tennis you practice the fh.

i wasn't strict with him just to make him think it was the reason for being successfull. i'm not that stupid to think it's the reason rafa is at the top, but i like it as a way to focus on your life. it's just a game, you can't think you are a better person for being good at it.

i would like rafa to be austere. i spend a lot of time with him and i was tough with him. he had no other choice to adjust to my vision of life. in the era of greek philosophers, they question where hapiness comes from, if from work or from pleasure. the stoicists and the hedonists. i like to think it comes from work and discipline. it's what i want for my children. it's better for the society if they don't want everything. we abuse from material things. That's what i try to teach them. But in this society, discipline is not well seing, and like respect we need discipline.

Posted by marie j vamos rafa numero 1 ! 10/22/2008 at 07:56 AM

sic, very well stated.

Posted by chloe 10/22/2008 at 08:01 AM

to silvasurfa..i am totally thinking over the same thing re: ernests gulbis..i would really want him to have the same work ethic as rafael nadal so he could climb the rankings faster.hope his background won't be a hindrance to his having an excellent career in tennis though.

Posted by the original tina 10/22/2008 at 08:11 AM

Stoicists v. hedonists - wow. I'm a huge believer in reading the Greeks. Applying it to the way one lives a life - even better.

Thanks for the translation marie j

Posted by AP 10/22/2008 at 08:48 AM

I have been at tournaments and a friend has been at two others and in all of them Toni Nadal was coaching from the box. He was instructing Rafael what to do not just once but repeatedly. I couldn't believe it. The umpires were as close as I was and they didn't do a thing. I'd have more respect for him as a coach if he didn't break the rules.

Posted by the original tina 10/22/2008 at 08:49 AM

Now: Ajde Viktor!

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 08:56 AM

so many places to start;not sure what to comment on: the post itself or the replies it elicited.......

1st. What? a cap got Roddick to the N0 1 ranking? Well,I said to myself ,you just have to love a man who will post this,let alone think it! Thumbs up PETE!!

2ndly: No,what followed didn't come as a surprise. I have been following Nadal and his career now for years and have read many in depth interviews with both the player and his mentor in our national press . I'm looking forward to the TW magazine interview in the hope that there might be something new there that I haven't read before.

3rd. Religion. I believe that it was Tío Tony who said that he himself was not a believer in the supranatural aspect of religion (he seems to have adopted as his many of the moral and ethical concepts that have their origens in the Christian or Judeochristian tradition). I don't recall reading in this post that he made the same claim for Rafa. What Rafa does or does not believe is for him to say if he should so wish to make that disclosure.

At least I am thankful that Rafa(whether or not he is of a religious frame of mind) doesn't subject us to the unsightly arrogance of all these sports heroes who would have us believe that God actually takes sides and really cares if the Minnesota Fieldmice or the El Sporting del Abracadabra make that touchdown or that goal that gets them into Champions League. Honestly,if I were in a quandry about whether or not to believe in a God,I would have my answer in a jiffy if I were to believe these players who think that God personally answered their prayers to give them the power to grind their opponent into the ground.

As to those posters who sought fit to use Tío Tony's secularism as a chance to get a free kick at the Roman Catholic Church,they place their historical ignorance on display. As well as doing a great deal of harm to many people and indulging in the worst excesses of religious proselitism ,the Roman Catholic Church has also over 2000 years helped preserve not only the precious Greco-Roman origens of Western civilisation but those of Pre Columbine America and Asia as well. We know of the existence of thousands of languages and dialects,animal and plant species etc etc because of the tireless task of hundreds of friars who compiled some of the first and best dictionaries in the world,the first and best catalogues of botany and zoology.

Thanks to the Roman Catholic Church and specifically the RCC in Spain, millions of Europeans were saved from periodic plague and starvation. The Spanish monks introduced new drugs and basic food species from their experimental farms in Spain.

At the same time they saved thousands of native Americans from cannibalism by introducing husbandry to enable them to have recourse to another source of protein other than each other. Just google Fray Bartolmé de las Casas and you might be astonished to learn that he was the precursor of Human Rights. The RCC and the Spanish crown were the only European Power or World Power for that matter who ever had qualms about the inherent rights of subjugated peoples of other races(neither the Protestant British -or the Chinese or any other culture for that matter- ever lost a moment's sleep over this).

Much has been written about the infamous Spanish Inquisition but no one ever goes on to say that the courts of justice and the trials held under it were the fairest and most merciful of its time. key words: OF ITS TIME!!

The RRC was also the western world's biggest sponsor of art in almost every form ,not only in Europe but in all of Ibero America as well.

I don't give a damn whether Tío Tony believes in God or religion and frankly ,probably like most Spaniards who think of these things as belonging to the very private and intimate sphere of a person's life, I was rather surprised at the question.

I'm not surprised ,though, that given Tío Tony's answer, the question was left out of the magazine interview . Its circulation is primarily in the U.S. whose populace at large does not take kindly to self confessed infidels. We in Spain may have to deal with the RC demons we inherited but in the U.S. they are still dealing with that particular Calvinist Evangelical brand of religion which is so uniquely theirs,bequeathed to them by those Puritanical bigots who stubbed their buckled shoes on Plymouth Rock!! The kind of Calvinism laced with Social Darwinism that lead to the Holocaust of the native Americans of the upper two thirds of the North American continent.

While Roman Catholicism has done vocal and public penance for its sins and errors of the past (and they have been many and dire), Calvinist Puritanism 8and the sects and religions stemming from it) has yet to do so.

Finally,I know for a fact that Rafa not only strings his own racquets,makes his own phone calls and carries his own luggage,he also makes his own bed and that is thanks to Mama Nadal and not Tío Tony.

finally a word to naughty t! : the Nadal's are a typical very ordinary family of mind boggling "normality" with no fancy frills. When Rafa burps at the family table his mother probably winces and tells him that he's disgusting and his sister probably seconds her. I bet my last euro that they probably rag him all the time about that bad habit he has on court and that they beg him to do something about it.Maybe he really can't. maybe he has a chronic anal fissure. How do we know?

Yes, It's a disgusting thing to see. But,bad as it is, I will say this for Rafa, he has never called attention in public to any player's nasty habits(and there are plenty that come to mind). Which is worse? The nervous tugging at the back seam of his shorts when he is under extreme pressure or the rather rude comment made at a public presser recently by a young Argentine player that ridiculed Rafa for doing that?

When questioned about that comment ,Rafa laughed heartily at himself for being the cause of the remark but then ruefully and sort of wistfully added, "It's actually a pretty funny remark but my Tío Tony and the code my family have taught me wouldn't allow me to make that kind of remark about anybody."

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 09:05 AM

SIC: Buenas tardes!! I have just read you and have enjoyed your post and for the most part agree with you. (that sounds as if I enjoyed what you wrote because I agreed with it and although there will always be an element of that ,I even enjoyed reading the parts I wasn't in accordance with...ha,ha,ha or as people around here say LOL)

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 09:13 AM

VANESSA AT 7: 37 AM or something like that

I agree about 100% with you. You stated that beautifully BTW,

This piece on Tío Tony should be read as an attempt to delve into the mind of a tennis mentor and some of the life and court lessons he's bequeathing to his pupil and nephew but should never be taken as hagiography.

The Nadals are a family you'd probably want to have in your neighbourhood -not on your altarpiece!!

(in their favour,they would probably be horrified to find themselves there.... Gee,I wish I could find something really horrible to say about them or Rafa that would put to rest once and for all the idea that those of us who like and admire Rafa do not necssarily think he's a saint!)

Posted by Vanessa 10/22/2008 at 09:19 AM

AP,
I have been to tournaments too so have my friends and our experiences seem to differ so much. All I can say is that this rule is not enforced in general. As coaches go, I think Toni is great mentor for Rafa

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 09:20 AM

Malimedia: wonderful photos all!! I especially like the one where Papa Federer looks on beamingly at the embracing Nadal clan. What a nice man!! Another example of a good parent and excellent human being.

Posted by Vie 10/22/2008 at 09:21 AM

My god GV (Gabriela), that post was awesome. You have quite a good view of history. What would I give to be like you in many ways. And I only know you in TW. A bit weird.

Sic, great post above at 7:24 am. I agree with your last paragraph too about the anti-Nadal remarks.

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 09:27 AM

vetmamma: re the higher level of learning and Tío Tony's opinion, I think the way you have read this makes the most sense. I am with you on this one completely.

Remember,those of you who are perturbed that he doesn't think that a university degree will do much for Rafa,this is the man who probably knows and understands what Rafa is capable of and what he can and can't do. He 's not belittling the importance of a university degree in itself;he merely expressed the opinion that it probably wasn't important for Rafa whose peculiar talents and abilities will enable him to achieve wisdom and learning in other ways.

Posted by the original tina 10/22/2008 at 09:27 AM

Very enlightening, GV. FYI, there are plenty of Roman Catholics in the US - from many backgrounds, 19th-C. Irish and Italians and Poles to 21st-Century Latinos. My own parents go to Mass every single day - but I fell far from the tree in that regard. But in any event, I also find the thanking of god after tennis matches to be truly offensive.

Though I might give a shout out if I can find St. Petersburg with audio, LOL.

Posted by Vie 10/22/2008 at 09:28 AM

Wrong punctuation, Previous post meant,
My god! GV, that post was ..l.

Posted by Tari 10/22/2008 at 09:29 AM

Oh, for goodness sakes. Before you all tar and feather religious people for their beliefs - assuming how they treat others' views, please understand that Toni Nadal said this:

"Religion comes from ignorance in people. "

Did I say that non-religious people are ignorant? No, I did not. Please do not put words in my mouth.

And with that, I will join the "ignorant masses" and shut up. (And thank you, Aussie Angel)

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 09:51 AM

the original tina: have just read your post...

I am of course aware that not only are there RC's in th U.S. but people of many other faiths(Islam,Judaism,Buddism) and non believers who beieve their Atheism very religiously.

I was referring to a "founding" religion. The national psyche,the national foundational myths of the U.S. are all Puritanical Calvinist in origen . The "true" religion of the U.S. is actually "Americanism" to which someone of any faith may subscribe (the idea that for some reason the U.S. is a country better than any other and loved by God more than any other) and "Americanism" stems directly from those old fellows who said they had come to the North American shore to found a New Jerusalem. Just read Samuel Huntington on why Hispanics can't be real "Americans" until they give up their adherence to Roman Catholicism....

Posted by The tennis ghost 10/22/2008 at 09:51 AM

"Yes, It's a disgusting thing to see. But,bad as it is, I will say this for Rafa, he has never called attention in public to any player's nasty habits(and there are plenty that come to mind). Which is worse? The nervous tugging at the back seam of his shorts when he is under extreme pressure or the rather rude comment made at a public presser recently by a young Argentine player that ridiculed Rafa for doing that?"

GV ; Amen to that!

Not to mention the certain Serbian and American who've made fun of this habit (and his other on-court rituals) while trying to impersonate him.. He even got ridiculed by another player mid-match @ Wimbledon which he responsed by winning that match..

Posted by 10/22/2008 at 09:52 AM

"Religion comes from ignorance in people."

I would assume Uncle toni is referring to early man looking for answers. Makes sense. As a religous person, I'm not offended by this comment. I doubt he's calling me ignorant.

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 09:59 AM

THE ORIGINAL TINA: I just might add that while it is entirely true that many catholics went to the U.S. and thrived and prospered it is also true that many did not .Abraham lincoln was only able to win his election byjoining with the Knownothing Party who stronglu advocated the banning of catholicism from the u.S. and shipping catholics back where they came from.

It is also interesting to note that while JFK,a nominal Catholic,was able to be elected because he specifically made a public statement to the effect that he would not be a Catholic president,no Protestant president of the U.S. has ever had to do that. Can't you just see Truman promising not to be a Presbyterian president for instance? Did Lieberman ever feel it necessary to make a public statement that he was not going to take orders from Israel? No,of course not. But JFK had to say that he would not be taking marching orders from the Vatican.

Posted by lira vega 10/22/2008 at 10:04 AM

I'm not religious and I agree that comment about "religious people's ignorance" was rude and frankly, I'm surprised to see so many people agreeing with it/defending it.

Posted by Sher 10/22/2008 at 10:05 AM

Syd,

I think it's a matter of intent in this case. He was asked specifically about what ideals he holds, of course he is going to sound moralizing and use a lot of "i believe this is better than" statements. And I guess only Carlos can say if being thought high-maintenance is offensive to him :)

Posted by Carrie 10/22/2008 at 10:11 AM

*I would assume Uncle toni is referring to early man looking for answers. Makes sense. As a religous person, I'm not offended by this comment. I doubt he's calling me ignorant.*

I agree that this is likely what he is saying. The idea that religion often started as a way to find answers for when there were none- not that he was bashing all people who are religious as ignorant or part of the ignorant masses.

My brother is an atheist (we went to church when we were young). My parents and I are not. His wife is Catholic and his children go to church. I have had chats with my brother about the reasons for our differences and he has mentioned that he feels that various religions were formed as a way to answer the unknowable. But he respects my beliefs, my parents beliefs and his wife's/

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 10:13 AM

VIE: you are sweet and i love your support but please do not want to be like me!! You are wonderful as you are I am sure! ..I mean,don't you think there has to be something strange and a bit pathetic about someone who rantson anonymously about history and religion on a tennis blog??

and I am afraid that I have just become a fullfledged member of the 1O,OOO Word Essay Brigade(WEB)....

Posted by Carrie 10/22/2008 at 10:19 AM

GV -

At the time that JFK were elected- there were still people in the US who thought that a Catholic president would take orders first from the Vatican. That is why there was all the hubub. There was a huge bias against Al Smith when he ran for President in the 1920s for that same misconception. JFK never said that he would not be Catholic- just that Catholicism would not rule his presidency hence a "Cathilic President" as opposed to President. All Presidents until JFK had been either humanist (some of the very first presidents) or Protestant.

In the context of today- JFK would not have to say such statements but there was a bias at that time. And at that time- Joe Lieberman would have very likely had to mention his ties to Israel- if he were even on a ticket (which in 1960- the age of still "restricted" country clubs- I doubt.) But you can still have bias today- such as all of the muttering about Obama being a "secret Muslim."

Posted by sic (Rafa Nadal, 2008 Year End #1) 10/22/2008 at 10:26 AM

Buenas Gabriela, Marie J :)

GV, the RCC, like most huge institutions and historical subjects, is so nuanced that it's difficult to make absolute statements about it one way or the other. It's done good and bad, it does good and bad. And which parts are good and which are bad are subject to all kinds of debate depending on personal perspective. My only point about Toni is that his feelings about religion may have been tainted on a very personal level by how the Church was complicit in maintaining the dictatorship (ya sabes el viejo dicho sobre el Alcalde, la Guardia Civil y el Sacerdote...) And there is still an element of that in today's Spanish Church, embodied by bishops like Rouco Varerla...

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 10:46 AM

felizjulianidad 's and malimedia's posts add depth and round out this article or partial interview of pete's in different ways...

As they point out,a lot of the material here may be new for the English speaking public but in Europe we have had access to the "Nadal story" earlier. It could be because the Anglo press is notoriously enamoured of its own bellybutton and spends an inordinate amount of time contemplating it. Kudos to Pet for breaking this habit and wading into new territory for his readers in the U.S.

felizjulianidad:it is interesting that Huntington thinks that U.S. religiosity (of the Calvinist Protestant Evangelical type it must be said) doesn't have a problem with European secularism. He's so right;it doesn't. He would think,though, that it had a HUGE problem if the U.S. had to deal with European religiosity (of the RC persuasion). U.S. religiosity can deal with other people's secularism; it can't deal with other's religiosity if this religiosity is at the equally zealous high-pitch of its own(Islam, for instance).

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 10:57 AM

Hola,de nuevo,SIC: Oh I absolutely concurr with you about that being a pretty plausible explanation for Tony's PERSONAL dislike of the only organised religion that he has ever known. Have you ever read BEARN or seen the film(a young Imanol Arias in the role of a priest). It's about Masonry and freethinking in the 19th century in Mallorcan society. Not everybody there was always a mindless peasant under the yoke of the Catholic Church.
No argument with you at all about Rouco Varela.

I was just concerned that I was starting to see some posts that indicated that the floodgates had been opened on that everhovering tsunami ,the Black legend of Spain and, by extension, the wickedly horrible Roman Catholic Church.

"Of course poor Uncle Tony hates religion. Just look how horribly the Spaniards and everyone else has suffered under its cruel regime" is so feeble and simplistic that I had to say something!

Posted by the original tina 10/22/2008 at 11:01 AM

Before I was born, my RC parents could not join the Country Club where my mother now plays golf, even though the state is, I think, 95% RC. During my own childhood it was still restricted to white Christians. Happily, today there are black and Jewish members.

The muttering about Obama being a "secret Muslim" is so terribly disturbing, it's true - for the implication that being Muslim makes one "Anti-American". Hopefully Colin Powell's powerful words on that subject this past Sunday will help put that to rest.

I am most definitely not a member of the Church of America. We have a pretty strong history in terms of civil rights - a friend of mine believes that the US is the "longest continually-running civil rights movement in the history of the world" - but I still don't believe that to be American is to think that America is "better than the rest of the world". Especially not at the moment - ring me back in two weeks. I still won't think we're "better" - but I will hopefully regain my national pride.

We're certainly not better in tennis.

Posted by Syd 10/22/2008 at 11:13 AM

GV:

I agree that blanket condemnations of the Catholic Church are simplistic. But this might not be the best medium in which to defend the Church. Statements such as " At the same time they saved thousands of native Americans from cannibalism " might not go down too well with the native peoples of the Americas. Europeans, backed by their Catholic states and many of the conquistadors—Pizzaro and Cortes, good Catholics no doubt, are two that come immediately to mind— came to this continent to plunder wealth as well as to colonize— wiping out whole cultures and races of people in the process.

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 11:17 AM

CARRIE: thank you for reading my post and taking time to comment on it.

I believe that I said that JFK had to publicly state that his would not be a Catholic presidency. That he would not ,in effect, be a Catholic president. Of course, he never had to renounce his own Catholicism! It was not my intention to give anyone that idea.

( Obama has had to say that he will not be a Black president. In other words, that his will not a presidency based on his or anyone else's race. No white president has ever had to make a speech stating that he will not be a White president. A Hispanic presidential candidate would probably have to make the same statement of denial. A Jewish,Protestant or athiest candidate would not have to. An Islamic candidate? Forget it! Ain't no such thing.)

CARRIE: I was simply defending the point that in the history of the U.S. there has been a singular antipathy towards Catholicism. An antipathy that has its origens in the Anglo Calvinist roots of the country. I doubt that anyone can make the case that this was not so and that even today it continues to be the case (under many guises)although maybe not so overtly as previously.

A professor at a university can lose tenure and professional respect for publishing research about something which could be interpreted as being derrogatory about Israel but the Vatican and Roman Catholicism are fair game. As for Islam, anybody can say anything about they please be it false,defamatory or degrading,let alone do serious research.

This is not an attack on the U.S.(a country which is admirable in many ways too numerable to expand on here) but an attempt to clarify what the RCC has come up against many times.


Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 11:17 AM

CARRIE: thank you for reading my post and taking time to comment on it.

I believe that I said that JFK had to publicly state that his would not be a Catholic presidency. That he would not ,in effect, be a Catholic president. Of course, he never had to renounce his own Catholicism! It was not my intention to give anyone that idea.

( Obama has had to say that he will not be a Black president. In other words, that his will not a presidency based on his or anyone else's race. No white president has ever had to make a speech stating that he will not be a White president. A Hispanic presidential candidate would probably have to make the same statement of denial. A Jewish,Protestant or athiest candidate would not have to. An Islamic candidate? Forget it! Ain't no such thing.)

CARRIE: I was simply defending the point that in the history of the U.S. there has been a singular antipathy towards Catholicism. An antipathy that has its origens in the Anglo Calvinist roots of the country. I doubt that anyone can make the case that this was not so and that even today it continues to be the case (under many guises)although maybe not so overtly as previously.

A professor at a university can lose tenure and professional respect for publishing research about something which could be interpreted as being derrogatory about Israel but the Vatican and Roman Catholicism are fair game. As for Islam, anybody can say anything about they please be it false,defamatory or degrading,let alone do serious research.

This is not an attack on the U.S.(a country which is admirable in many ways too numerable to expand on here) but an attempt to clarify what the RCC has come up against many times.


Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 11:19 AM

abject apologies for double post. makes me seem even gabbier than I already am!! So sorry.

Posted by manuelsantanafan 10/22/2008 at 11:24 AM

GV, 8:56

As to those posters who sought fit to use Tío Tony's secularism as a chance to get a free kick at the Roman Catholic Church,they place their historical ignorance on display.
_____________________________________________________

GV, I could take a thousand "free kicks" at the RRC and not be providing support to that particular statement.

Having attended four RRC schools, including one in Spain, earned a history degree from an Ivy League school, and been the beneficiary of many of my Mom's diatribes against the "Black Legend" (part of which consist of arguing how the English treated Native Americans worse than did the Spanish), I've been provided the amunition easily and convincingly support my position.

That said, I believe you made many insightful points in your various posts today.

One can, however, question the accuracy of much of the historiography of the pre-Columbine and post-Spanish conquest American indigenous peoples encountered by the Spanish. They wrote most of the original histories, many of which reflected the biases of the conquerors. Were the Aztecs engaging in human sacrifice on a mass scale? Perhaps. Was a primary or secondary reason for the sacrifice to address protein needs? If so, sacrifice with the attendant ceremonies, temple building, etc., appears to be a very inefficient way to go about it.

Also, comparing Spanish and indigenous agricultural practices by measuring the ability of these practices to support the respective populations can be misleading b/c indigenous populations dropped precipitously shortly after the Spanish arrived due to diseases introduced by the Europeans to the Americas.

Anyway, the treatment of these subjects has put much bread on the tables of many historians; I'll now defer to those getting paid to address these topics and those who want to engage in pro bono discussions.
____________________________

Last year, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art had an exhibition on Spanish art in the Americas up until the 1820s. Very interesting. You might want to purchase the $50 book that museum is probably still selling concerning the exhibition.

Posted by Sherlock 10/22/2008 at 11:31 AM

Hey, ignorance is bliss, right? I take it as Toni was paying me a compliment. :)

Posted by Syd 10/22/2008 at 11:34 AM

manuelsantanafan;

Actually the RCC was not originally in this discussion. The discussion was about "religion"—whatever that is ; one that flowed from Toni's statements that the religions were borne of ignorance, or some such. At any rate, the introduction of the RCC was introduced by one of that faith.

Posted by the original tina 10/22/2008 at 11:36 AM

We're all waiting for a new Your Call thread, I think.

Murray beat Troicki in 2. Can't remember now what all the matches are today.

One more point about my RC parents: mom is Croatian. As we know, a lot of what went down in the Ex-Yu supposedly had a lot to do with the RC church v. the Serbian wing of the Orthodox church. That's not even taking into account the Muslim Bosniaks. Dad's Irish - a country that has had "Troubles" between RCs and Protestants. While in truth, these problems have less to do with religious affiliation and more to do with money and land grabbing, any idea of fighting WITHIN Christianity has always baffled me.

Sarajevo is absolutely fascinating, because it's got it all, including the Sarajevo Haggadah.

Posted by Marian 10/22/2008 at 11:40 AM

Wasn't Pete's question to Toni made out of context?. And once the answer was known why wasn't it published? Afraid what an honest answer may have on Rafa's performances? I really don't understand why it was made without explaining what the motive for asking it was or researching afterwards what the background for such an answer is.

I'm not surprised that Toni (and all the Nadal family) are not religious in the sense of attending church services because of the recent Spanish history. I was living in Spain around 1960 and it wasn't easy for children attending schools and whose families were not religious and/of were trying to speak their native language (catalá or euskera, for instance). Everybody was -compulsory- baptised catholic but everyone chose to be or not to be one. Most didn't or they pretended to be, just like the Jews in Spain did in the fifthteen century.
For the group of teenagers (Tony was 15 years old at the time I'm talking about) these circunstances have made an imprint on their lives forward and though people generally don't talk about it anymore if asked you get this sort of answer. Of course this means that Rafa and his cousins are also not religious and they will never be. This doesn't take away that his moral standards are at least pair to those of people who are truly religious or think that they are because they don't miss a service.

Toni's spartan regime towards Rafa is a projection of his own and I don't find a fault in it. Rafa has a whole life to become "soft" with his money and fame but I doubt that this will happen.

Posted by jewell 10/22/2008 at 11:40 AM

gabriela?

Posted by GV (the artist formerly known as Prince..oops,I mean Gabriela ValentinaGV 10/22/2008 at 11:45 AM

SYD:

Only God(if you believe in him) is the judge of whether Pizarro and the other "conquistadores" were good Catholics.

I fail to see why the original inhabitants of the American continent would not take kindly to the statement about cannibalism. It happens to be true. It is not a moral condemnation of cannibalism. They were cannibals because homo sapiens in the pre technological world needed an unending source of protein not because they were wicked and savage. That is a moral judgement that I did not make but that in your own mind you did.

We Europeans in turn learned an immense amount from them about agriculture and climatology . To the credit of the Catholic(Spanish) men of religion,they never despised the source from where they gained this new knowledge which was to save countless Europeans from death by plague and starvation.

The people of pure or mixed original native descent far outnumber the people of pure European descent in all of Central and South America. The idea that whole races were deliberately wiped out is a falacious myth. (Recent arqueological findings by scientists from US universities has proven that in Peru,for example, wholesale carnage once attributed to the Spaniards is now known in fact to be the result of internecine fighting of warring native kingdoms. )

The same can not be said for the upper half of North America where the Catholic Church did not hold sway. Even though it was proven that the tribes were no longer a threat to anyone or anything,the settlers continued to demand that the US government erradicate them completely in a genocidal war. This occurred in the far more enlightened times of the very late 19th century.

This is not BTW,a discussion of religion or morality. I am just trying to set History straight and ensure that the RCC gets a fair hearing. I am sorry if it upsets a lot of people's preconceived notions of its role in the meeting with the American continents and its peoples.

(incidentally,the people of the magnificent Aztec Empire(and it was truly magnificent in many ways) did not care a fig for the sensibilities of any of the hundreds of other native cultures that they most effectively obliterated and subjugated into slavery. Of all the conquering empires of the world,only Spain ,Catholic Spain,had issues of angst about what they were doing and whether or not they had a right to do it. That's not bad for 15th and 16th century man. )

Posted by jewell 10/22/2008 at 11:48 AM

gabriela????

Have you gone over to the Dark Side too? :)

I can see why everybody is annoyed, to be honest. Toni has a perfect right to say what he likes, and everyone else has a perfect right to disagree. I agree with anon above who thought it was meant as a reference to general human progress, but that's just my personal opinion.

Sherlock, I love your take. :)

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