Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Dressing Roger
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Dressing Roger 06/22/2009 - 4:06 PM

Weenie by Pete Bodo

Mornin'. Wimbledon is underway, right? Everyone is getting back into 14-days-in-the-tennis-hole watching mode, warming up that right-handed move to the bowl full of orange food (How can Cheetos be bad for you if they're just crunchy air?), the faster-than-Twitter skitter on the keyboard or (if you're lucky enough) the remote. . . It's time to warn the neighbors - that scream or bellow they're going to hear is not you killing the cat, it's you agonizing over the fact that Agnes Szavay just had her serve broken to go down a set and a break!

Given all this, it's really strange to recognize that for a handful of people, Wimbledon isn't just beginning - it's already over. The Wimbledon website doesn't provide scorecards (although you can find those ever valuable if not entirely convincing match stats), so I'm not entirely certain I've got this right, but judging by the scores I believe that the first player to lose at Wimbledon was Petra Cetkovska, who was beaten in an hour and seven minutes in the first match of the first day on Court 5 by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-2, 6-2.

A moment of silence for Petra, please. Her Wimbledon of 2009 is over before it ever really began, and certainly long before it began for most players and the lion's share of tennis fans. I've often thought it must be an awful bummer to be out of Wimbledon an hour into it, and that's probably one good reason to keep doubles and mixed on the program. It affords downtrodden players the opportunity to hang around and savor the unique atmosphere at Wimbledon, and to bask in their glory as top tennis professionals in tennis's equivalent of the fur trade's legendary Rendezvous. If it weren't for doubles, all of Monday night you might be hearing the plop-plop-plop of bodies falling into the Thames from any of London's picturesque and historic bridges. Fog or no fog.

Cetkovska is a 24-year old Czech, and she's only escaped the first round at a major twice in eight attempts, although one of those occasions looks almost like a career run: She got to the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2008, which makes you wonder if those were all live bodies she elbowed out of the way - especially because her favorite shots are the volley and serve, and her surfaces of choice are hardcourt and grass. Hmmmmm. . .  you could forgive Cetkovska if she went home, looked in the mirror, and hissed, "Petra, I don't even know who you are anymore."

But while it's fun fooling around with these details, let's remember that Cetkovska is (or has been, according to ranking) one of the best 50 women tennis players. . . on the face of the earth. Which gives her a degree-of-distinction I certainly can't match, even if you can. So I'm glad she still has doubles, although it isn't what you would call major comfort - she has yet to win her first doubles match at a major.

But hey, the doubles doesn't really get going for a few more days and, given the customary Wimbledon rain delays, Petra might have locker room privileges for at least two or three more days - plenty of time to for her to take advantage of the perks offered to main draw players, and to be accosted by giggling school kids with their autograph books as she makes her way through the crowds jammed into the walkways while carrying her giant racket bag and looking tres cool in her predominantly-whites. She may also get to rub shoulders in the player's mess with her favorite player, Roger Federer, whom she likes because, in her own words, "He's a great player and a good person."

Federer may be a great player and a good person but his latest fashion statement once again suggests that he wants to be taken for some kind of a swell - which is probably not even remotely close to the truth, but if Roger can't control the message, who can?  This latest get-up is something you expect to see on a cruise ship host - check that - someone playing the part of one in a campy television show. It's distressing that Federer, who (admirably enough) claims to love "tradition" should be party to what amounts to a grotesque parody of it. Who's he trying to be, Big Bill Tilden - or some Don Ho cut loose on the greensward?

What's most surprising to me is that Roger doesn't seem to get it. I suspect that the Nike designers and marketing folks must come to him and fill him up with a bunch of hooey about what an "ambassador" he is for all things traditional and he goes all weak in the knees and capitulates to one cockamamie fashion disaster after another. The 14-time Grand Slam champ and budding fashionista turns commercial chump and, like some unsuspecting kid brother, lets his sister and her friends play dress-up with him. What next, lipstick and mom's pumps?

I bring this subject up partly because it has deja vu written all over it, and I'm not just talking about the ongoing process of Roger's dandification. Remember Andre Agassi's early years? Nike dressed Andre up in a series of Bozo the Clown outfits, driven by what probably was a similar urge to overstatement. In context, this goes by the name of client positioning and identification, and unless the client in question is very savvy, the drive to secure him in a niche - and the existence of a niche takes over the process.

In Andre's case, the niche was colorful young rebel, wreaking havoc on a game for old men and ladies prancing around in white. We saw where it led (hot pink spandex running leggings under charcoal gray shorts, among other things) The only thing Nike didn't do in its effort to capture "market share" among mall rats was pass out a free pack of cigarettes with every shirt they sold. And all that hurt Andre among those who didn't see through the ghastly commercial realities of it all.

In Roger's case, the niche is proud and unapologetic snob (or what that talented rebel caught and re-educated early enough could become, kind of like Bob Geldof). And in any event, it's a different, older and wealthier demographic. Roger seems to be standing up to be counted as a lucky, privileged Porsche-driving, mummsy-loving, polo-watching, country club dandy.

Why would anyone want to be portrayed as either of those creatures, you might be inclined to wonder, and are there enough of either type to warrant dumping so much Big Money into these campaigns? That's where it gets a little tricky, but also strategically nuanced. I noticed in the comments the other day that someone remarked that you can't even buy half the stuff you see Roger swanning around in, so what's the point?

I have to confess that I personally never went out to try to find an R/F manpurse, or a blazer with the astrological signs and laurel wreaths all over it, but doesn't it make sense that the stuff isn't available? I mean, if every Tom, Dick and Harry could go out to Target and pick up a Roger Federer Wimbledon blazer, what would that do for Roger's snob appeal, or the underlying theme of these campaigns, which is that he's Roger Federer and you're not?

On the other hand, if you really identify with The Mighty Fed, and have made your peace with the idea that you are not now, nor ever will be, be mistaken for a guy as classy and steeped in tennis tradition as Roger, you can express your fan-love and low self-esteem by scurrying off to the Nike store to buy a really nice $40 white t-shirt with the RF logo on the chest (and it's even bigger than that annoying polo player on the Ralph Lauren shirts, woo hoo!). That ought to be good enough for you, because like we said - he's Roger Federer and you're not.

To some degree, Nike must have been paying attention when its prized tennis client was hobnobbing at all those fashion shows with Anna Wintour. Nobody wears those bizarre costumes you see models parading on the catwalks either, right? They're "art", right? None of you regular folks need to buy or wear that stuff; the t-shirt or, if you must put on airs or want to get closer to the flame, $65 tennis polo ought to be just fine.

Tiger Well, I think it's great that Roger is trying to be mindful of tradition and all that, but we've passed the tipping point on that one. And while I'm not a big golf fan, it seems to me that Nike came a lot closer to getting it right with that other budding immortal, Tiger Woods. Every time I've caught a glimpse of Tiger on a golf course, he's been dressed in really appealing and completely appropriate gear - stuff that's elegant in a streamlined, sporty, functional way. How come Nike declined to dress Tiger in Bobby Jones-style knickers, with a cabbie cap? Could it be that Tiger just said, "No way!"

Roger may enjoy all this elaborate role-playing in a harmless way; down deep he probably thinks it's really cool that he can go out there looking so Brideshead Revisited and still leave opponents bleeding from the eardrums. But I think these costumes really send an awful, reactionary message, and can't help but think that Roger's being naive. It may be cool to look like an utter weenie and then kick buttski left and right, rubbing the dirt of your greatness in everyone's face. But at the end of the day, too many people are going to see Roger's kit and think: Guy's a heckuva tennis player, but he looks like such a weenie. I guess that's still what tennis is all about.

In the big picture, Roger Federer deserves to have a better image than that, and tennis certainly could be better represented as a sport that transcends all the socio-economic associations and stereotypes Federer's recent costumes conjure up. Roger, you're being used. Man up, call and ask Tiger about it.

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Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 11:49 PM

"I kept waiting for a litter of poodles to emerge from that murse."


Posted by Peter_BOZO 06/22/2009 at 11:54 PM

What a dumb post. You should be ashamed of yourself for calling yourself a professional sports writer. Go find a gig in US weekly or something.

Posted by jbradhunter 06/22/2009 at 11:55 PM

Pete- You've given me reflection on Image and its Effectiveness- I agree, Roger's outfit could work in Vegas... with Pia Zadora on backup and a Cher/Celine Dion duet
excess Squared! Roger is just embracing the Gold-Plated reality that is the Most Revered (and known by Non-Tennis Fanatics) Tennis Tournament in the world

Wimbledon tickets on Centre Court cost near $1000 on Day 1
the the Mens' and Ladies' Trophies are the most Ornamental, Garish pieces of metal in the sport... The Mens' Roland Garros trophy is like a beautiful marble-sculpted Michelangelo

But should/can Roger be held responsible for Changing the Image of Wimbledon (on a larger scale the image of Tennis)? Could Roger get the AELTC to lower its ticket prices so that more middle-class/lower-class people could watch live matches? Is that even possible?

Posted by Matt B. 06/22/2009 at 11:56 PM

I din't read your article and I'm not going to because you are looking foolishly far into a non-issue. Roger Federer is a classy, stylish guy and it's awsome he has the sense to wear clothes like he does. and you are you to so anything about the best tennis player in the world?

Posted by KP 06/22/2009 at 11:57 PM

"Rafa is not a real man" until he has the guts to step on to court as defending champion and have a go, instead of dipping out because he thinks he can't win

Posted by Carrie 06/22/2009 at 11:59 PM

*What do Americans know about fashion and being stylish anyways?*

Awww- thanks for the generalization. Yes since I am American I must have a wardrobe consisting only of Crocs and sweatsuits.

It is funny that two of Pete's recent articles that have gotten the most fevered responses have been about Rafa and Roger's clothing.

Although these have been fun- I frankly am more interested in Verdasco's abandoning his hair gel for Wimbledon. I mean- who knew that his hair was so soft and fluffy. I want to pet it!

Posted by Corrie 06/23/2009 at 12:01 AM

My first reaction when I saw Rog's togs and gold stuff, was to hate them and shudder, as Pete did, at what the ordinary folks out there would think of such effete show-off-ness.

Now I've totally changed my mind. It's impossible to appeal to all markets. He's never going to appeal to the tough jock sporting types, even though he's a better athlete than any of them.

If he came out wearing dull, conventional garbs he'd be told he was BORING. So he might as well give in to his quirky prankster side, which is very strong, and just have some fun.

The moral of all this? If you're a top star, you simply cannot win. You're either boring or an arrogant prima donna.

It's exactly the same in any verbal spats the media is goading him annd Murray into. Someone will damn you, no matter what you say. If you say nothing much you're evasive. If you say honest stuff, you are, once again, arrogant.

Posted by VC 06/23/2009 at 12:03 AM


God, I hope Federer goes out and wins Wimbledon yet again (hopefully without dropping a set) and shuts all these amateur fashion critics up...

Posted by Carrie 06/23/2009 at 12:03 AM

*He's a reel man like Pete always says! LOL*

Per Bodo and some posters here- Rafa's pink is unmanly.

I think Oases is having a laugh.

Posted by jbradhunter 06/23/2009 at 12:03 AM

I didn't read the reference to Big Bill Tilden as a negative, because Pete structures Big Bill as the opposite of Don Ho in his comparison... or so it seems to me.

according to wikipedia and ironically, Big Bill Tilden is credited as changing the image of male tennis players from Sissy and effeminate to "Robust" and "Athletic"-- and Big Bill was considered the GOAT for a long time

Posted by Cosi 06/23/2009 at 12:04 AM

As I look at the photos of Fed in his stylish, clean white clothes and Tiger woods in his clothes, I think Federer looks like a royal Prince Charming out of a romance book and Tiger looks like any man, not elegant or fashionable, just really safe and regular.

Posted by knut smavik 06/23/2009 at 12:05 AM

come on.. have you ever played any kind of sports bodo???
he dresses to get money from nike, not to score point with you or anyone else. roger wears what they tell him to, then goes on the court and takes it off. then the focus is on tennis. he is smart. nike is smart because it attracts new audiences to tennis , dummy..
bodo, why dont you write for a fashion magazine instead. you are a fantastic writer, but you are rarely right about anything concerning tennis

Posted by banti 06/23/2009 at 12:07 AM

Pete he's into this stuff. Every genius, even the one you love has a flaw:) What did you think of Rafa's flaming pink outfit in the French? With TMF's outfit, I think the Jacket is a bit to much, the bag was horrible, but felt everything else looked really good. The cutoff sweater and the white pants was very traditional I felt.

Roger doesn't know where to stop, thats his problem. And yes his friendship with that fashion lady is not a good thing for him.

Don't let this get to you though. He's still incredibly level headed and even down to earth I'm sure. No? You should no?

Posted by sam hill 06/23/2009 at 12:07 AM

We can't criticize people for noticing and commenting on Federer's duds. If he didn't want to be noticed and commented upon, he would dress like Roddick. Yes, it's the results that matter. But that doesn't mean we aren't allowed to look at the trappings, too. Besides, I don't remember anyone being offended by comments on Hrbaty's holey-shoulders shirt, or any number of Stepanek's abominations.

As for the get-up: what bothers me is the "look at me" aspect of it. He doesn't need to draw attention to himself. We ARE looking at you, Roger. Everyone is already looking at you.

That's why it reeks of arrogance rather than "fun" to many.

And it's also likely true that he doesn't care what we think.

Mainly, the sneakers with the jacket? They just don't go together. He needs boots or something, not sneakers. Total disconnect.

Posted by Joseph B. Stahl 06/23/2009 at 12:11 AM

When a takedown is this good it ceases to make any diffrence whether it was right. Anyway, as to Federer's "costumes": Agreed; they're ridiculous.

Posted by MikeA 06/23/2009 at 12:14 AM

The guy who wrote this article looks like my refridgerator repair man. He should leave fashion critiques to others.

Posted by Vishal 06/23/2009 at 12:19 AM

@sam hill,
Criticizing/making fun of the outfit is one thing (Personally, I myself am not a big fan of Roger's ensemble this year). But insinuating that turning up in that outfit projects a "wrong" image of the sport (if you read between the lines, Bodo is hinting that it is too sissy an outfit for a top notch pro male tennis athlete) is what is objectionable about this post.

Roger can turn up looking like Boy George tomorrow. But that will not change what a great asset he is for tennis, and what he a genius he is on the court.

Posted by Andrew Miller 06/23/2009 at 12:19 AM

I agree - Roger Federer's tennis wardrobe is awful.

It's kind of amazing to me, for a guy who dug in the trenches and pulled out an enormous victory as French Open champion, wears the stuff he wears on court.

Federer has revealed a lot more blue collar in his big win in Paris, and I think that was really good.

At least the paris wardrobe was better.

Posted by lois 06/23/2009 at 12:22 AM

I don't care what I write, I try to obey all your rules. I have read on this forurm where mpeople have actually insulted all of you, but what ever I write and I grew up in the right Time where I was taught RESPECT EVERYONE. I AM SORRY YOU DON'T WANT ME TO WRITE HERE. I have even tried to ask what I could do to avoid all this, no answer, Thanks but no Thanks-I will not bother you again.

Posted by Carrie 06/23/2009 at 12:22 AM

I do have to say that I don't like the outfit as a whole. The jacket by itself in gray could look neat with jeans or a dark pant. The vest is fine- but not really keen on it for a tennis warm up. The murse is a big fat no.

But just because someone doesn't like the outfit means that they have no fashion sense or homophobic. They just may not like it.

If Roger were to wear a vest I would like to see it with an Andre 3000 type of feel- kind of geek chic. But the vest and the 1980s new Wave jacket and the murse- just don't go together to me. But what do I know? I am American- which for some means that I can't have any fashion sense or style.

Posted by Andrew Miller 06/23/2009 at 12:25 AM

I also really appreciated the day in the life of the Czech player.

We spend so much time talking about James Blake. I appreciate the insight into Agnes Szavay.

Posted by Carrie 06/23/2009 at 12:26 AM

*hugs lois* Sorry you feel so bad.

I wish this board had been up when Serena wore her catsuit. Those would have been good times....good times.

Posted by Pete 06/23/2009 at 12:26 AM

Matt Z: You're a very kind man, and that means more to me than most anything else and I would be remiss not to thank you for going to bat for me so zealously. You also are far closer to the truth of what I wrote this post than most anyone else has been, and while I understand it irks some that you "interpret" me, and so diligently, I feel fairly interpreted. I wrote this post for one reason only: my train of thought this morning when I connected Nike, Agassi and Federer.

And Pspace, I never tweak Federer fans just for the perverse pleasure of it. It's just not me. Everything I write I write for an reason.

Now excuse, I've got to make a house call for some lady whose Sub-Zero refridgerator broke down!

Posted by JohnC 06/23/2009 at 12:27 AM


You are correct about Tilden, but that just means Boda's being ignorant, as well as homophobic.

Posted by yuck 06/23/2009 at 12:34 AM

Annnnd ... the Matt Z/Peter B love-in has finally gone over the top. Shocker. Mr. Bodo chimes in to retroactively agree with those promoting a benign "interpretation" of his writing. (The fact that one requires others to interpret a blog post in his absence says what about the actual writing?)

I stopped reading these comments way back in the Bob days because of his pendantic and overbearing posts. (Remember the Justine love-ins he would promote?) I thought it was safe to come back.

Who knew that I'd now abandon ship again? Thanks, Matt Z!!! Please feel free to interpret to the masses as necessary.

Posted by arjun 06/23/2009 at 12:34 AM

I find it a bit annoying that there's a Peter Bodo post nagging about the clothes Federer wears.....Really? I mean do you REALLY care THAT MUCH to have to write about it that much? Is there nothing else in the world of Wimbledon or Roger Federer that you can write about? I find it a bit pathetic. Okay, maybe he went a little over the top. You know what though, it obviously didn't prevent him from a straight set win. And, there are obviously PLENTY of people who did like it at Wimbledon based on the applause he got and reactions from others in players locker room.

Posted by daniel 06/23/2009 at 12:37 AM

you all suck!!!! talking about fashion when there is so many things happenning in wimbledon, we are seeing history watching the greatest tennis player of all times, federer is about breaking the most important record, which is the 14 grand slams of pete and this boodo guy is talking about his jacket jajajaja!!! go to and write posts there ignorant!

Posted by vetmama 06/23/2009 at 12:40 AM

Come on, Pete!

You COULDN'T work for Sub-Zero, which we all know is an elitist refrigerator brand, such as the Federer's might have in their very own kitchen.

We know you're REALLY going out to repair a plain old, blue-collar Kirkland fridge.

Posted by sam hill 06/23/2009 at 12:43 AM

Vishal, I agree with you. I was not really addressing the deeper meanings of all of it, and/or Bodo's article, except in my second paragraph where I was giving my own take on it.

Though I do kind of agree with Bodo that something this ridiculous probably won't be good for the sport, overall. But then I guess we parse "why" we think it's ridiculous, which is where the controversy lies here on the blog.

I think he's putting too much emphasis on his looks. He isn't the only player who does it, and I don't really know why I don't like it, but I think most (not all) of America agrees with me. I won't speak for Europe or Asia, et al.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 06/23/2009 at 12:53 AM

If the worst thing that can be said about Roger when his career is over is that he wore some questionable/silly/goofy/ridiculous (fill in the blank with your own word) clothing to walk onto the court at Wimbledon, I bet he'd be OK with that.

I also bet that the commissioners of the NFL, NBA and MLB wish that the worst thing that could be said about some of the stars in their leagues had to do with clothing, as opposed to arrests for dog fighting, sexual assaults, carrying a weapon illegally, steroid use, etc.

Posted by Arun 06/23/2009 at 12:55 AM

Awesome post, Tangi..

Posted by Russ 06/23/2009 at 12:55 AM

Sam Bill: The day Roger defaults a match because he didn't get a haircut or his manicurist canceled on him, I'll give it to you-- he's putting too much emphasis on his looks. As long has he's beating Nadal on clay at a MS, making 20 straight GS semis, winning the French Open, and tying Pete Sampras's GS record, I think his emphasis is right where it should be.

Posted by sam hill 06/23/2009 at 12:55 AM

That is true, tangi! I don't think anyone said differently. Some of us just don't like his fancy Wimbledon clothes.

Posted by jbradhunter 06/23/2009 at 12:56 AM

tangi- I think you're forgetting that Red faux Snakeskin polo Fed wore earlier in his career- that was worse than this

Posted by streams 06/23/2009 at 12:58 AM

Pete this is hilarious .. whether I fully agree with you or not on Roger's fashion (which I dont' give a big deal about either way) I gotta say your writing in this piece is brilliantly funny and I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for the entertainment.

Posted by Cosi 06/23/2009 at 01:02 AM

Posted by Andrew Miller 06/23/2009 @ 12:19 AM

I agree - Roger Federer's tennis wardrobe is awful.

It's kind of amazing to me, for a guy who dug in the trenches and pulled out an enormous victory as French Open champion, wears the stuff he wears on court.

Federer has revealed a lot more blue collar in his big win in Paris, and I think that was really good.

At least the paris wardrobe was better"

Why is only blue collar "good" and any other type of collar "bad"?

God I'm sick of class envy, we even see it projected now on to a tennis players choice of clothing.. arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Posted by Vishal 06/23/2009 at 01:07 AM

Dear Pete,
I do believe that Roger enjoys this display of style (which happens only at wimbledon). Even if you dont happen to have the similar taste, i dont think there is a reason to make FUSS about it because (I may sound rude) i am not sure that you are a GREAT judge of fasion/clothing and even more importantly this has nothing to do with his tennis.
Dear Pete, while you should be able to express your opinion freely on this blog (its your right and choice as well) those of us who have been a TREMENDOUS fan of your insights may perceive this part of the post as a waste of space time and energy.
I must add that many people do believe that Roger looks great with these innovations and while many are not able to (like Agassi of yesteryears) he is able to carry it off very well.

Posted by sunnyrose 06/23/2009 at 01:15 AM

You really seem to be frustrated that Rafa dear is out of wimby and the favoutrite AM doesnt stand a chanc. Post FO you do not have a thing to say about RF. Don't know when you guys will appreciate this magician !!
Horrid post !!

Posted by potato starch 06/23/2009 at 01:21 AM

What bothers me most is actually not Roger's clothes but the terminology Pete uses;like 'weenie' which is very derogatory slang used in the military and also by writers like Tom Clancey whose prose style is very similar to Pete's . I just wish Mr Bodo would not take his fear of homosexuality out on Roger Federer since Fed is clearly heterosexual. You don't understand the European culture Pete,which is understandable. But its based on men feeling so secure in their masculinity that they don't have to worry about possible homosexual tendencies;much like when you know you're a man you don't have to prove it.

Posted by IK 06/23/2009 at 01:27 AM

"much like when you know you're a man you don't have to prove it" Exactly. Fed's comfort with who he is is sexier and stronger than the macho cr** that journo's like Bodo would have us swallow.

Posted by sports_not_fashion 06/23/2009 at 01:28 AM

Oh please... Mr. Bodo, this is the reason I seldom enjoy your articles (though once in a while you surprise me with a really good one) -- odd, biased and off topic. Why on earth are you devoting a whole column to the clothing choices of a great player when you have an entire tournament full of matches to talk about?

It's bad enough that the the outfits worn on the women's side garner as much attention as they do. (And what's with all the flouncy, diaphanous stuff that Sharapova and Ivanovic and the like wear, anyway? I was loving the Sam Stosur-Kuznetsova match at the French Open. They looked like superb athletes in sporty clothes, not runway models obsessed with their looks!) Now we have to start endlessly analysing Rafa's pink shirt and Federer's jackets. Give it a rest! Be a credible sports journalist and give up the fashion babble. We all have "what was I thinking" photos from our youth. We just didn't have some journalist covering our movements all day and talking to the world about it.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/23/2009 at 01:31 AM

And Pspace, I never tweak Federer fans just for the perverse pleasure of it. It's just not me. Everything I write I write for an reason.

Hehe, Pete. I didn't say that you did. It's just a question of degree, imo. How much reason vs how much provocation. Once we start balancing these two factors, there's about a 100 different ways to interpret the piece. I imagined this was intentional in your way of writing. Perhaps not.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2009 at 01:32 AM


CC: CL, Pspace, Evie

Hmmm, I thought that our earlier exchange about the Federer-Andreev match cleared things up.

Here's why I throw myself into the threads where Pete gets (in my mind, excessively) attacked.

First of all, I've been on the receiving end of strongly-worded correspondence as a sportswriter (college football), so right there, I can identify with what Pete's going through. To a certain extent, yeah, I'm expressing a bit of solidarity with Pete, but that's only a small part of the story.

The bigger part of the story is that as a columnist, and as someone who has experience putting his ideas out in public, I can't tell you how many times I've received the kinds of criticisms that have come my way tonight.

If I say something to the effect that there's a need to explain concepts to some people who are not understanding arguments, I get labeled as "condescending." It has happened throughout my career as a commentator/writer.... not just in sports, but in the editorial pages of Seattle's daily newspapers, where I've contributed occasional opinion pieces on current affairs since November of 2002.

Saying that certain arguments/ideas are lost on some people is simply not a condescending thing to say, or--at the very least--if it IS condescending, it can't be viewed as such unless or until the person reveals him/herself to be condescending in subsequent exchanges.

Rafadoc, you and I have not understood each other at times, but as was/is the case with CL, I've never called you on the carpet for anything or viewed your perspective as deficient or somehow "not ready for prime time," or anything to that effect.

How, then, can you take offense at things I say? How are you in a position to feel condescended to, if I never took you aside and verbally roughed you up in an unbecoming manner?

Various individuals are feeling condescended to for the simple fact that they read posts of mine that possessed a condescending flavor. But if I don't talk to them specifically, one can't then say that an act or statement of condescension has taken place.

It is a plain reality to state that arguments get lost on people here. Hail, sometimes, the arguments of some posters get lost on ME, and I have no clue what OTHERS are talking about!!! It should not be controversial--not one bit--to say that human persons are always in need of explanation, elucidation, and elaboration, so that concepts and points of emphasis in debate may be clarified for the understanding and betterment of all parties concerned.

When Pete gets cross-roughed (in my opinion; others can have different opinions), I feel it is very important for me to at least attempt to explain what Pete was saying.

If that's condescension, well, then I guess no one should ever attempt to mediate/arbitrate/regulate/moderate a discussion in order to settle things down and lower the temperature in the (cyber) room. We might as well all pack up and go home.

Let's remind ourselves of a few things about Pete, on a purely logistical level:

1) He's preparing to fly to London to cover this tournament;

2) Due to No. 1, he has little time to police his own threads;

3) Due to No. 2, we--you and me and everyone else at TW--is a stakeholder in this community.

Therefore, if there's a severe misunderstanding or a collection thereof, it should not be seen as an act of condescension for me or anyone else to say that concepts need to be explained for readers who are missing certain points. All of us are, at one time or another, in need of explanation as Internet dwellers who are unable to communicate face-to-face and thereby benefit from facial gestures and other nonverbal cues that facilitate holistic communication.

On a moral level, all of us are in need of explanations so that nastiness, undue anger, and excessive antagonisms don't overwhelm this community, which--at some points--teeters on the edge of such anarchy, as has been the case in some Fedal wars. You and others might disagree with me about the value of trying to mediate, interpret, and explain, but to say--particularly in a reflexive and rather automatic manner--that it's condescending to explain is just not fair. Columnists are in the explaining business; the problem with a column is that it has a word limit, which means some concepts will go un-explained or under-explained. Further explanation tries to fill the voids left behind by writers of almost every stripe; condescension in a tag/label best applied to specific statements that drip with disregard for the value, integrity or dignity of specific persons or groups. It's a stretch (at best) to say that proclaiming the need for explanations sinks to the level of a condescending statement.

I'll conclude with a statement I often use with my college football readers during the season, after getting a batch of hate mail:

Allow me to be wrong. Allow me to be inexact and incomplete. Allow me to be a flawed human being. Just don't call me unprofessional (my outer self/identity) or mean-spirited/condescending (my inner values, ethics and morality) for doing my job (or, in this case at TennisWorld, for doing what I feel is my duty).

What I say is never Gospel truth. Just because I usually say things authoritatively, and sometimes in a very ornate manner, does not mean that I'm a condescending elitist or an arrogant know-it-all. I've been reading that kind of e-mail since 2001.

Pete? He's surely had to absorb similar sentiments for more than a third of a century.

If I try to defend him in this forum, allow me to be wrong when I do. Just don't call me condescending as a consequence.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 06/23/2009 at 01:34 AM

Thanks, Arun. :)


I'm not sure if I've seen the polo in question. Maybe I've blocked out the memory on purpose? :)

Posted by federer fan since 2001 06/23/2009 at 01:38 AM

I have to say that Mr. Federer looked fabulous when he came into the center court today. He looked active and sharp on the jacket. (On TV his look was much better than the photo on this page) Probably I have got used to his extravagant clothes for the past few years. I just enjoy and smile when he display his fancy clothes.

Posted by Adam 06/23/2009 at 01:39 AM

I don't get all the "man purse" comments. It's a freakin duffle bag for cryin out loud. Most profesional tennis players carry a bag for their racquets and a seperate bag for their gear (extra shirt, shoes, ect..). I've had a shoe blow out on me and had to finish the match with my pinky toe sliding out onto the hard court. It would have been awsome to have an extra pair handy. Although I have to say there is no way I'm carrying a bag with glittery gold sides..

Posted by Roger That 06/23/2009 at 01:42 AM

I love it that Roger's arrogance is giving some of you fits. I hope he reaches new levels.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2009 at 01:43 AM

For anyone upset or still unsettled by the Bill Tilden reference as a clear revealer of supposed homophobia, I give you JBradhunter's astute insight about how the Tilden reference was posed as an either-or relative to Don Ho. Contextually, the flow of the sentence suggested not that Federer was displaying Tilden-like gayness, but Don Ho-like softness that stood in contrast to Tilden's athletic prowess.

Thanks, JBrad!

Posted by onekingdavid 06/23/2009 at 01:45 AM

The new Jacket is a highy individualized fashion statement...just like the Darth Vader
threads of Fed's USO...but to be honest ONLY The Mighty Fed can pull off a jacket like
that...and he did it in splendor as usual at this year's Wimby....
Fed The Greatest Sportsman On The Planet....NO CONTEST !

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 01:46 AM

Hey everyone. *waves madly*

aw...Petra. Sorry, Sherly - but she really is very pretty in real life. :)

Haven't caught up on all comments yet, but I kind of agree about the message some tennis outfits are sending - the harking back to the bygone eras of the 1920s etc makes me feel slightly uneasy. Murray's new idea seems to be the same sort of thing. It all seems so ersatz, so pastiche-y, so unreal.

However, if anyone can carry it off, it's Roger. The military style thing looked jolly good on him, the waistcoat - odd, but also good. And the things that saved it from being cruise ship host were a) beautiful tailoring (cruise ship jackets never seem to fit quite right), and b) being worn by Roger, because he really could - and did - carry it off with elan.

I really do hate that gold RF logo though. *snobbery alert* I just hope he doesn't have napkins and curtains embroidered with it, too...

actually the discussion about marketing etc is an interesting one, because I'd imagine most players just want the money and comfortable gear so that they can go out and do what they do best. Roger seems slightly more interested than that, more actively involved. Which says something about how he wants to be perceived, maybe.

*off to read the comments*

Posted by moeycuz 06/23/2009 at 01:46 AM

Honestly what is with fatboy always writing about what the players are wearing? I doubt many people care. WRITE ABOUT THE ACTUAL TENNIS!

Posted by JohnC 06/23/2009 at 01:48 AM

@Matt Z

I don't know about condescending, but you are certainly horribly prolix for a journalist (and I say that as someone who has been in the profession since the late 70s).

Pete's post was, at the very least, gratuitously derogatory about a great champion ("weenie" etc). Piling on ever more words does not make the indefensible defensible.

Posted by Roger That 06/23/2009 at 01:50 AM

Yeah the high irony of Peter Bodo calling Roger a "weenie". What exactly gives Mr. Bodo the right to call Roger anything?

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/23/2009 at 01:50 AM

Just because I usually say things authoritatively, and sometimes in a very ornate manner, does not mean that I'm a condescending elitist or an arrogant know-it-all.

I don't know Matt. The point of this piece was to suggest that if Roger dresses like a dandy, he'll be seen as a weenie. And, that would not be good for tennis or whatever. In the same way, stating things with authority, when there is no proof is just begging to be called arrogance. Not that this is my view, as I don't mind arrogance in the least, just like I don't mind dandies.

Posted by I Rock Ice and It Hit Your Mama 06/23/2009 at 02:02 AM

Shut up! Roger is the best tennis player and athlete of this generation. he can do whatever the fu&# he wants. Just like Kobe Bryant

Posted by kyle 06/23/2009 at 02:03 AM

this is wayy overdone! get over the fact that roger federer is wearing preppy clothes and is a preppy sport. its a great sport but definitely a preppy one! there is nothing wrong with dressing like you have money ...because lets face it...fed has more money than the guy who wrote this article could ever dream of! jealous much? give fed a break. as for the comparison to tiger woods' wardrobe, you can go to a store and buy a pair of tiger's pants for 250 bucks. he dresses as snobby as anyone else so if u think fed and tiger are that different go out and buy a pair of tiger's 300 dollar spikes! at least fed doesnt dress like nadal. this guy is sporting shorts that are about 4 sizes too small for his huge ass.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 02:04 AM

Crikey...this is scary. Steroids and homophobic language - nice. Oh, not to mention a budding Fedal war...

on to page two...

I thought the point was to suggest that Roger's image perpetrated an exclusive kind of image for tennis. I didn't catch the "weenie" language the first time around - *slight frown* - but I thought it was more about presenting an image of moneyed-ness and class than anything else. And I guess the Brideshead Revisited image is the one that's most easily availabe to express that.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 02:12 AM

Ooh...Caroline made a good point about the humour of it. It was clear that Roger didn't take it too seriously and enjoyed the playing-dress-up aspect. I suppose if you looked at it as playfulness and part of postmodernism, you could see Roger as an iconoclastic rebel...

So maybe it's all in the perception, and who is doing the watching.

Posted by VC 06/23/2009 at 02:13 AM

I don't agree with the general thrust of Pete's post, but...

Matt Z must never, ever be accused of condescension. I've been a long time reader here, and he is one of the fairest, most knowledgeable, and gracious posters here (with the added advantage of being a Federer fan ;-)).

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 02:16 AM

Matt Z, if you're still around, could I email you?

Posted by L.Rubin 06/23/2009 at 02:23 AM

"Matt Z must never, ever be accused of condescension. I've been a long time reader here, and he is one of the fairest, most knowledgeable, and gracious posters here (with the added advantage of being a Federer fan."

Amen, VC! Matt Z is one of TW's gems, and I have never--ever!--detected a drop of condescension in his posts.


Posted by JohnC 06/23/2009 at 02:25 AM


Bodo's point is that Fed is projecting an image which is not only effete but also unmanly, and therefore somehow bad for the sport (at least among the red-blooded, real Americans).

This entire line of argument strikes the majority of fans (those who were born post-Paleolithic on the one hand, or are not insecure teenage boys on the other) as utterly preposterous, and the innuendo with which it is freighted as offensive.

Posted by Cosi 06/23/2009 at 02:28 AM

Posted by JohnC :(those who were born post-Paleolithic on the one hand, or are not insecure teenage boys on the other)"

The crux of the issue right there, thank you John C for stating it in such a succinct and effective way.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2009 at 02:31 AM


It's all about context.

Is the use of "weenie" some below-the-belt insult with larger offensive tones for gays and lesbians, or was it merely a well-chosen word--albeit a word with a lightning-rod quality--meant to convey a certain effect within a larger commentary on Nike/IMG/Federer Inc.'s marketing and branding decisions?

Another memorable dust-up involving Pete occurred last August, during the Beijing Olympics. Pete made some comments about the infamous slant-eyed picture involving the Spanish national basketball team, comments meant to make some sharp distinctions about the fine line between poor taste and (on a more urgent level) racism.

There's just no other way to say it: In response to what was a provocative but well-reasoned piece, a flood of outraged comments emerged that basically tarred and feathered Pete as some raging lunatic racist with a distorted, dangerous agenda.

The charge of homophobia is a serious one, but the evidence--i.e., the text--just doesn't stack up.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Bill Tilden reference was flavored with a homophobic bent. (I maintain otherwise, and presented a case to support my view, but again, this is a hypothetical here...) Even if one accepted that claim, it would still stand that the other metaphors/figures/references used by Pete were NOT laden with gayness or with any hint of commentary about matters of sexual orientation. If one is to make any kind of charge--in this case, a charge of displaying homophobia (and in the eyes of some, LATENT homophobia)--it would stand to reason that the preponderance of the evidence must be able to support that charge.

Clearly, the preponderance of evidence establishes the very opposite... EVEN IF one were to view the Bill Tilden reference as carrying a whiff of homophobia.

All in all, every author ascribes a specific meaning/place/value to certain words, names and phrases. To accuse a specific author of committing a specific and grievous sin or exhibiting some particularly ugly/nasty trait--the kind of sin/trait that gets a writer fired from a publication--one must then be able to determine that various words, names and phrases are offensive WITHOUT QUESTION or (at the very least) beyond reasonable doubt.

When Pete referred to Bill Tilden, then, does the context of the sentence CLEARLY and OVERWHELMINGLY indicate a whiff of homophobia (if not something worse than a whiff)? No.

To be perfectly candid, even I don't conclusively know how or why Pete evoked Tilden's name.

In virtually every other passage from the article, I'm sure Pete has/had a very specific idea/purpose/vision behind each of the words he used. If the context is anything less than conclusive in a given direction, Pete has the right to explain himself without being prematurely accused of being a homophobe, a grossly unfair charge.

Posted by englishwoman 06/23/2009 at 02:35 AM

I'm not sure I've ever posted on here before, and it's a bit weird that I feel compelled to do so now over something that I actually consider trivial. At risk of appearing narrow-mindedly nationalistic, I have to view this fashion stuff from a Brit/Wimbledon point of view.

I'm absolutely staggered that so much cultural, philosophical and ethical emphasis has been placed on what somebody wears on a tennis court for a maximum of about 10 minutes. The fact that it's Roger Federer makes it newsworthy, of course, but the idea that he (and/or Nike) is making some sort of profound statement - whether deliberately or otherwise - about tennis, virility, cultural divisions, the state of our world in general, strikes me as ridiculous.

Over here in the UK we're looking at this seemingly terribly important issue as a non-issue. We may do tradition with a capital T, but we also do quirky. We like quirk, especially when it runs in tandem with tradition. We also like fun, and we recognise fun when we see it. Roger's outfit fits all those bills. It's got more attention than the tennis, needless to say, but in a lighthearted way. There's no worried rumination about what it all means because, put simply, it means nothing. If anything, there's merely an appreciation that Roger likes to do something a bit different in deference to the home of tennis. Some people love it, some hate it, some think it's silly, some think it's great, some don't give a you-know-what either way. But nobody's looking deeper than that. Nobody's talking elitist, girly, thoughtless, impervious-to-world hunger type stuff. The TV reports this morning think it's just a bit of plain old simple FUN! We can be very sensitive over here about all sorts of things remotely concerning political and cultural correctness, but this matter goes nowhere near that particular debate.

You wouldn't think so, judging from the amount of words I've just written.......but I'm speechless.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 02:36 AM

Kitty Mac - I wish you posted more often, all your comments are wonderful. :)

Posted by misael 06/23/2009 at 02:38 AM

I gotta be honest, i thought that Rogers' outfit was a tap too much with the man-bag and everything, but is all part of the show. Does make him look a little stock-up, girly? perhaps but like bodo said he is roger federer and we are not? i would never walk into any of my matches with an outfit like that, but who i am? Not roger federer that's for sure.
In conclusion roger federer has the whole world watching him, not by wearing over the top outfit, but by being the best that ever was... just look forward to see what he's going to wear next year after the 15Th!!
Go Roger!

Posted by Or 06/23/2009 at 02:46 AM

**In virtually every other passage from the article, I'm sure Pete has/had a very specific idea/purpose/vision behind each of the words he used. If the context is anything less than conclusive in a given direction, Pete has the right to explain himself without being prematurely accused of being a homophobe, a grossly unfair charge.**

Matt - I think Pete knew very well how this post would be recieved, it's a harsh post even without the 'weenie'/Tilden connection. Sure, he can explain himself, but if he chooses not to, I think people who read his posts can't help but interept them in a certain way.

I mean, Pete can speculate and ponder Roger's desicions/behavior/choices without being completely sure what is the motive behind them, he still passes judgement, as a sport writer. That is his right. But it's no different with a writer and his readers, we can also speculate.

Posted by mcakron 06/23/2009 at 02:46 AM

englishwoman -- well said. couldn't agree more (and i'm on the other side of the pond). hope to read more of your posts in the future.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/23/2009 at 02:48 AM

You wouldn't think so, judging from the amount of words I've just written.......but I'm speechless.

englishwoman, thanks very much for that. I was wondering if I was starting to lose my sanity. Phew.

Posted by Cosi 06/23/2009 at 02:49 AM

Englishwoman, thank you for such a thoughtful post. It almost makes me cry to be honest. Yes, we are really really messed up in my country. Yes, something as trivial as a fancy outfit that a great tennis player wears for FUN and to get a rise out of people, is made out to have major implications of culture, class, gender,sexual orientation, I can't believe that somehow some way, one of my American countrymen hasn't injected race into this yet, but believe me, it will come now matter how ludicrous the connection will have to be to even be made , it will come. All over a jacket and some gold piping. It's insane. It shows how uptight alot of Americans have become, and it's sad. Too uptight to enjoy somebody putting on the ritz at Wimbledon of all places, geez.

Posted by Corleone 06/23/2009 at 02:50 AM

Posted by Cosi:

People in the USA SAY they want their sports stars to act like regular guys, but then when they do act like regular guys, people in the USA stomp their feet and say "That guy is BORING!" lol Americans never know what they want, trust me. If you are very fashionable, then you are a "snob" or elitist or "metrosexual", if you don't dress well, you need a fashion makeover, if you act like you have money and buy expensive things, you are a show off and insensitive to the poor, if you have a ton of money and don't spend it on expensive things and walk around in jeans, you are a cheap skinflint and ungenerous and look like a bum.... UGH..............

Cosi, i agree with you 100% on this one. We Americans just have to find the ways to criticize.

And Carrie, we get it, ok, you're an American. You don't have to repeat that in every post.

Posted by Huh 06/23/2009 at 02:50 AM

I always read a lot of columns here, and while I've always been pretty tempted to comment this is the first time I've felt compelled to. Without even reading the column title, I clicked on it only to be treated to a picture of Roger Federer wearing the most pretentious condescending outfit that I've seen anyone short of actual royalty wear (and I'm not sure I've actually seen royalty wear something like that).

All the connotations aside, the gold is just plain tacky.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 02:51 AM

It's interesting to compare this post and the comments to the recent post about Rafa's new clothes, anyway.

I know nothing about Bill Tilden or Don Ho (am rubbish tennis fan), but I thought the Tilden reference was just a throwaway reference to a great from a bygone era. But maybe not the most sensible one to choose, judging by the comments. *shrug*

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2009 at 02:51 AM


Thanks for a gracious and fair-minded post. I appreciate it.

You're helping me and, hopefully, all of us get to the heart of the matter, especially some of the things I just outlined with JohnC above.

YES--when I get immersed in a controversial debate/argument, I will acquire a professorial-sounding texture. Inevitably, it leaves me open to charges of condescension, etc., etc., but I employ such a tack at these times only because I feel the need to explain concepts a bit more structurally, which can lend more clarity to a discussion and wipe away multiple misperceptions (including my own on many occasions!).

You are indeed accurate when you say that speaking with authority "is just begging to be called arrogance." Yeah, that's true.

But the key distinction is this: Is an action inherently arrogant, possibly arrogant but subject to review, or (third option) begging to be called arrogant?

If an action is begging to be called arrogant, that hardly makes it arrogant.

Example: Lots of neoconservative political commentators have said that Sonja Sotomayor is racist. Does that mean she is, in fact, racist? Hell no.

There has to be proof.

This gets back to your comment, because you also said that it's begging to be called arrogant if someone (i.e., ME!) speaks with authority "when there is no proof."

I have submitted proof to defend and/or explain myself and my views. You are always free to disagree with my line of reasoning and to view my proof as thin or insubstantial, but you can't say that I don't support my claims. That's where (and why, and how) speaking with a professorial tone is meant to be mutually edifying for every member of an online community, in a forum where none of us can see the facial gestures or other nonverbals that are ideally present in human communication.

If Pete and everyone here were gathered around a campfire discussing this piece, charges of homophobia would be debunked--to the satisfaction of far more people than is the case right now in this online context--because Pete could intimately and immediately explain why he used all the words and phrases he did in fact employ in his piece.

But because this is online and therefore not a face-to-face interaction between author and audience, we're having these layered problems... problems that merit explanation and therefore demand at least some degree of interpretation. Pete can't be here 24/7. If I fill in the gap, I know I will be called arrogant by some, but that doesn't make me arrogant, ipso facto.

Posted by hen 06/23/2009 at 02:55 AM

Looks like a loonar bin attendant. Definitely something medically psychotic about this outfit. Numerous pockets are for numerous pills. Enlarged lady's purse proves that the all-white pockety guy is a patient rather than a staff member.

Posted by Eric 06/23/2009 at 03:00 AM

Since this is pg 6 of the comments, probably no one will really get to read it... but I do think RF is damaging the sport by dressing like a complete ninny. My friends around the office already think tennis is a country club, affluent, pansy sport, and RF's odd choice in fashion is detrimental in this regard, especially stateside. His tennis is beautiful and he seems like such a tasteful guy, how could he go so wrong with his choice of warm-ups? An utter atrocity, Roger! WAKE UP!!

Posted by rafadoc 06/23/2009 at 03:00 AM

Matt Z: I appreciate my exchanges with you. I am sorry if I crossed the line but when you step in and try to direct the argument and interpret a writer's words (and Pete says you were spot on so good for you) it will come off as condescending. Sorry...that is the way it is. We are talking about clothing/tennis fashion here. Let's just try to get back to having fun with the post. I refuse to think that Roger's gold murse should really generate this sort of animosity. Again, I apologize-just tried to point something out.

Posted by Tennis girl 06/23/2009 at 03:01 AM

oh come on people. I feel jealousy around here. Why do you all care about the outfit? When it comes to tennis, look at the game, not the looks please. Looks are just secondary. Hey Pete, I usually enjoy your articles, but please keep your articles balanced, not like this one. I feel that it was disrespectful to Roger Federer.

Posted by Or 06/23/2009 at 03:01 AM

Matt -

The question is, will Pete explain?

Doesn't have to be now, I get that Pete is busy. I don't mind waiting a week - but I'd love to hear that explanation from him, because what you've said so beautifully in your own posts regarding Roger and his marketing in the states, was said in a much harsher way in Pete's post. And I understand Pete's need to be provocative, but it has to serve what you really want to say, and I think Pete sort of dropped the ball on that one.

Whatever the idea behind it, I don't think the level of 'harshness' was justified. This is what I am curious about. Is Nike marketing Roger in the wrong way in the states is a legitimate question, but but the claim they are using Roger (who has proven to be a VERY mature independent individual, surrounded by trustworthy friends and family) and he is somehow blind to it should be presented in a more careful way, IMHO.

Posted by JohnC 06/23/2009 at 03:03 AM

@Matt Z

The Tilden, Brideshead, "weenie", "lipstick and mom's pumps" references collectively carry a pretty clear message, and you don't need to be Kreminologist to decode it: Boda's worries that tennis looks like a sissies' game which his imaginary Joe Public associates with *gay*.

Whether this is objectively homophobic is a judgement call that I am less worried about than clearly understanding the lineaments of this very backward and quite wrong argument.

Posted by Cosi 06/23/2009 at 03:05 AM

Eric, since you are worried about what your friends at the office think about tennis, do you ask them if they watch more than the few minutes that say Roger Federer comes out in his warm ups? Because, if they did, surely they wouldn't think it was a pansy sport. Now, if they aren't watching any more than to see a guy walk on court,obviously they aren't that interested anyway. There is room in tennis for all types of people, the elegant can take part too, the very dressed, the glam boy, the dandy, do you want them all to look like Roddick? And if they all dressed like Roddick, would your friends at the office watch the matches? Most likely not if they can be so easily turned away by Roger Federer's jacket.

Posted by VC 06/23/2009 at 03:05 AM

"Over here in the UK we're looking at this seemingly terribly important issue as a non-issue."

Englishwoman, this sort of article appearing in the mainstream media, with sportwriters taking the liberty to take pot-shots at Federer bothers me. That's why I'm hoping Federer wins Wimbledon convincingly and stuffs all this fashion analysis down their throats. I mean, on a blog like this, it's all very well speculating all day, and picking Federer's fashion choices (and associated ramifications) apart, but I don't like it when every man and his dog in the press considers himself a fashion authority and ignores the actual tennis.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2009 at 03:07 AM

Or -

Key distinction in your most recent post:

"We can also speculate."

You're absolutely right on that count. No dispute whatsoever.

But what readers do NOT have a right to do is pronounce Pete (or any other author of an article) guilty of a serious charge--namely, being a homophobe--before he has a chance to explain the reasoning/purpose/association of several lightning-rod-like words, names, and phrases.

Pete's focus--as he just stated in his 12:26 note--was socioeconomic and marketing-oriented. Yet, a lot of people are insisting on saying that Pete was attacking gay sexual identity. The charges lack--to use a favorite Pete Bodo word--"HEFT."

Just because he says, for example, "man up" at one point in the piece does not automatically mean that Pete thinks Federer is projecting fragile gayness or somehow inappropriate homosexual leanings. "Man up!" is a phrasing that can mean many different things beyond anything relating to homosexuality. If it were to have a negative sexual connotation, Pete's use of "man up" would have to be clearly and overwhelmingly linked to further (derogatory, explicit, unambiguous) commentary on the topic of sexual orientation.

Such a linkage simply does not exist, because Pete never did comment precisely about sexual orientation (and never even HINTED at commenting on it).

As something of a postscript, Or, I have to wonder exactly how Pete felt the piece would be viewed by readers. I'm sure he expected some of the reaction he's received, but the article was a lengthy one; there were so many specific sentences that have gone unremarked on. As is so often the case with sportswriting--because again, I've felt this same basic sting myself--a few words or references are given undue weight and are perceived as being far more incendiary and indicting than they were ever intended to be.

I will say that, in light of the history of this blogsite, yes, Pete could have been more careful in how he couched certain phrases and references. It would be not only fair, but accurate, to say as much.

With that said, there's far more of a burden on the readership to work/think in the opposite direction, and not charge Pete with being a homophobe without giving him a fair hearing.

All of this is a delicate balance. The key is for each of us to explain (there's that word again!) more and judge less... at least at the outset of arguments.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2009 at 03:08 AM


Check your inbox.

Posted by mcakron 06/23/2009 at 03:08 AM

I think journalists and professional writers who try to control interpretation of their words (post-publish) fight a losing battle. Reminds me of a traffic accident I was involved in years ago when the cop admitted he was going to cite the other party and thought the dude guilty.

Me: How did you know?
Cop: The other guy talked too much.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 03:09 AM

about Pete explaining further - I've found that he often tries to do this if there has been a misunderstanding, either in comments, by email, or in a subsequent post. It may not be immediate, but he does try if he thinks he needs to.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/23/2009 at 03:15 AM

MattZ, Well, as someone who does science for a living, my notions of "proof" are slightly different. Indeed, you provided arguments for your point of view, but with material as subjective as this, it is difficult, if not impossible to convince everyone. This is where (imo) tone becomes important at TW. Simply adding a qualifier "imo" dramatically changes the way people interpret a sentence. We've had Fedal knife-fights over this.

My posts were an attempt to explain why your posts were interpreted in a certain way. As far as I'm concerned, you're more than entitled to state your opinion any way you please.

Of course, I did indeed find the charges of "homophobia" rather unnecessary. And, good on you for sticking up for Pete in this regard. He doesn't need to be defended as far as I'm concerned.

But, I do feel that pointing out that this is "much ado about nothing" is a fairly reasonable opinion, which many of us have. It's not falsifiable, unless we go around taking a survey or something. But, you'd suggested that this was wrong, in no uncertain terms. Again, no biggie, but I can see why you were taken to task for that.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 03:17 AM

Nobody who was "arrogant" could have made that post at 2.51am. *shrug* Just my opinion, of course. :)

Posted by Eric 06/23/2009 at 03:18 AM

I don't mean to start a gender war in the comments section, but I find it interesting that most of the supporters of RF's fashion miscues are actually female. I don't always agree w/ Pete Bodo, and even he will tell you that I give him a hell of a hard time on some of his other meandering features. But he's dead on for this feature. True, the tennis should speak for itself. But I'm telling you, all the verbal defenses to the contrary, if you prance on the court like a ninny, you're bound to damage your sport. RF is doing just that. I'm not coming from a hateful stance, or even one that's remotely alpha-male or testosterone-driven, I'm just telling it like it is. While it will not ultimately bring him down, and it doesn't change my fandom, I do think that RF is damaging the sport and the aura of his own legacy w/ these fashion faux pas. It's incredibly distasteful.

Posted by rogi 06/23/2009 at 03:19 AM

he looks awesom in his stylish outfit.
he is really cute and fashionable.
don't be so cruel,man!

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 03:23 AM

Matt Z: check yours. :)

Posted by Cosi 06/23/2009 at 03:26 AM

you prance on the court like a ninny, you're bound to damage your sport. RF is doing just that. I'm not coming from a hateful stance, or even one that's remotely alpha-male or testosterone-driven,"

Eric, saying somebody is prancing like a ninny is pretty hateful.. and it's also just your opinion that wearing what he's wearing makes one "look like a ninny" differnet strokes for different folks, ever heard that? You know, Bethanny Mattek has worn some god awful outfits, and so has Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova has had a couple of bad misses in her choices of dresses, Andre Agassi used to wear some really strange attire, has the sport been damaged from that? COME ON for god's sakes, a couple of weeks this year that people may see Roger Federer in a jacket and waist coat is not going to damage TENNIS, if that's all it takes to damage tennis, then tennis is freaking weak to start with and too weak to care about. Dennis Rodman did all kinds of strange stuff and never ruined the NBA and he was much more over the top than Roger ever will be.......

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/23/2009 at 03:29 AM


Do note that the references to lipstick and mom's pumps emerged within a context of--and I quote Bodo directly here--"an unsuspecting kid brother, lets his sister and her friends play dress-up with him."


If the references to lipstick and mom's pumps were really flavored with homophobia, the connection Bodo would have used would have been as follows:

"willing kid brother eager to have his sister and her friends play a conspicuously stylish version of dress-up with him."

If we're really going to dissect words and phrases, the context needs to be taken into account.

I reiterate that the Tilden reference--being posed within an either-or framework, and moreover, as something that was quite possibly a reference to Tilden's virile athleticism, not his gayness--is hardly clear as an indicator of homophobia.

Weenie can simply be taken to mean a coward or a weakling. That's not a reference to gayness or to effeminate qualities that are often associated with homosexuals.

Women can be tough.

Men can be cowards without being gay.

Gays can stand up for themselves. Weenie is NOT inherently homophobic... people of all sexual orientations or identities can be weak-kneed at times.

Brideshead Revisited--upon looking up a Wiki reference page--is simply not viewed as representing anything centrally linked to a gay and/or lesbian literary canon. Perhaps one could say that sexual identity is one of a few underlying subthemes in the novel, but the larger foci of Waugh's story are Catholicism, theology, and class tensions.

Again, if you're going to point to the presence of homophobia in such unmeasured tones and in such nakedly plain fashion, the linkages--like the evidence needed to support and confirm them--must be airtight.

It's not even close to airtight. The airtight case exists in the negative, not the affirmative, on this point.

Posted by streams 06/23/2009 at 03:29 AM

englishwoman - thanks for your sane post. I guess like you I see Roger's outfit as a bit of fun .. and in fact I thought I read Pete's post as being a bit of fun and facetious as well, maybe he was being more serious than I thought. Boy lots of people are being really serious on here. I mean come on ... do we look at the women's tennis fashion on the basis of its deep and meaningful hidden agenda? No! Just see if it looks good or if its fun. That's how I looked at Feds too - don't think it looks good but did think it was fun. Can't we just let the guy have some fun without accusing him of hidden meanings and everything

Posted by pat 06/23/2009 at 03:30 AM

its not important what FEDEX wear and we all know he is the greatest player in tennis in history thats the issue here...GO FEDEX i know you can win 20 grandslam....

Posted by streams 06/23/2009 at 03:34 AM

by the way I really like the warm up sweat shirt whateverery things that Masha and Roger are wearing, ... nice

Posted by Cosi 06/23/2009 at 03:34 AM

Matt Zemek,

Just curious, why are you posting on this board as if you are some sort of hired legal counsel for Pete Bodo? he's not being sued here, people are just reacting negatively to some of his comments, nothing new is it? Hopefully if Pete has time he can respond himself, then we will really know what he meant by things he said, otherwise, it's nice that you want to defend someone, but you are not him so your attempts to answer for him and explain his mindset are rather unsatisfactory to those who want his response, I would imagine.

Posted by Or 06/23/2009 at 03:35 AM

Matt -

I'm trying to think of how to say it without offending, at those moments I wish I could write in Hebrew.

Even if Pete was a raging homophobe (and I don't think that he is, I do think he'd love to see Roger cry a little less, dress up a little less, and project a stronger image that would appeal more to tough American dudes - and I think those views are worth examining by themselves) - he'd never say it outloud, so your call for real proof is nice, but we'd never get it for a man in Pete's position.

Furthermore, and I'll try to say this carefully as well. A few months ago me and Pete had words regarding Pete's speculation (whether Pete speculated himself, or just supported the speculation - doesn't really matter right now) Roger isn't fit enough, and isn't working hard enough on his game.

A month later, Roger played two five setters and two four setters and took the FO title, looking as fresh as a daisy, and never during the tournament looked tired. Nervous - yeah. Tired? Nope. In the interviewed that followed, he told exactly how hard he worked, and what it took from him to regain his old - pre back injuty - form.

So, Pete speculated, and was proven very wrong, and I'm still waiting for the follow-up post on that.

So, what I'm trying to say, that it's the job of a sport writer to interept the actions and words of an athlete, even without hardcore proof (otherwise they'd never write anything) - but the same treatment should be expected in return.

Posted by jewell - Make tea, not war. 06/23/2009 at 03:38 AM

"do we look at the women's tennis fashion on the basis of its deep and meaningful hidden agenda? No! Just see if it looks good or if its fun."

*debates writing long post about sexism in tennis generally and the differences in how the mens and women's tours are perceived*

*decides not to on the basis that I don't know anything about it* - except that maybe all that fashion stuff detracts from actual tennis?

I can't see anything wrong with attempting to use something that is maybe meant to be fun as a springboard for discussions on marketing and popularity of tennis, or other, more serious issues.

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