The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The truth as I see it

Send Our Idols to Therapy

Roger Federer plays tennis because that’s what he was put on this earth to do.

It’s not that he likes to win or that the thrill of the match fulfills him; it’s actually less than that. Federer merely lives the rest of his life to survive between tennis matches, and wins matches because that’s how he can go on playing tennis.

There are two details that make Federer a daunting subject. Watch his head- it doesn’t change height. If you create a plane of air at just the right altitude above the court, his eyes will glide along it consistently throughout the match.

The second thing is clay. Federer loses to Rafael Nadal on clay, but Federer walks away with clean shoes. The brown stays on the soles of his feet. That’s like a mud wrestler walking away from her nine defeated opponents with Cosmo-perfect hair. It’s an anomaly indicative of a deep, instinctual sense of control.

Federer could smash his opponents. Instead he toys with them volley after volley, leading them on until they can taste victory and feel the weight of the shiny trinket he is about to snatch from them.

Now these are professional athletes, so self-control keeps this down, but that welling sense of victory is there, building as the ball rockets away over the net. Maybe this will be the next point, maybe the next one can be just as perfect, a green dart blurring down the court and burrowing into a corner before springing away and out bounds, like a gazelle just barely escaping the claws of the lioness.

But Federer is a predator, and his racket, tied loose to give him power, grips the ball sending it back over the net- another tease.

So the match goes, Mr. Federer sacrifices points, but it’s not a loss, it’s just a necessary factor to make the game last longer.

The best in the business do what they do, not because they can, but because they have to. It is a pathos, an instinctual development so heavily masked that the athletes themselves do not know it. Mike Tyson had it, a common thug-street-criminal-purse-snatcher who carried in his warped and corrupted mind the inherent predator instinct to drive his opponents into the mat. It’s not the will to see the enemy go down, it’s more than that.

Deep within every flurry of punches, every violent exchange with the opponent, one hand out of 50 will move beyond his control and awareness, snaking in under the guard and around ablative muscular protection into the opponents’ guts. That phantom hand will deliver the hit to end the match.

Fighting is probably the purest sport. There are refs and rules and equipment, but the bottom line of, “I bet I can kick your ass” gets to the heart of what sport is all about. But the best do not want to kick anyone’s ass, they just want the dream state that comes when the opponent falls to a hit neither of them saw coming.

Mike Zambidis and Buakaw Por Pramuk are kickboxers, and if you live in Thailand or have some kind of perverse obsession with YouTube, these men are familiar.

Zambidis is a Greek little person with a knack for getting his sneaky little hand right next to your chin. The guy literally has a ‘special move.’ Watch for it, Zambidis looks for a specific off button, the target he knows will end the match. He goes for the jaw. The same way every time, the opponent will make an attack, a straight or a clawing hook and it’s like the announcer booms aloud, “FINISH HIM” mortal combat style, so Zambidis does. It starts with a duck, the head swivels down or to the side, just barely grazing the oncoming fist of the enemy. Without even thinking, his own counter punch swings in like a satanic golden curse. The whip like countermotion of his whole body dodging gives the hand a special blend of death mustard and it connects at just the right time, zapping the chin alien death-ray style. He’s no knockout champion, but Zambidis has a special off button move that works so insidiously well that, even with all the refined variety of a champion, its that one move that he reaches for every time, its what he has to do.

Buakaw is special. Some strange mixture of child labor and enthusiasm have created a little brown killing machine that makes swinging your legs around like baseball bats look fun. Kicking is his thing; it’s what he has to do. His feet move in lightning fast acupuncture whip-cracks, putting perfect pressure to the absolute worst spot and controlling the momentum of the fight. He only uses his hands to protect himself until he moves to kicking range. More importantly, he also has a favorite target. He focuses on the solar plexus, the true center of the body. When he does knock out an opponent, which happens far less frequently outside of the boxing ring, it’s a body knockout, where the head wills onward but everything below it simply cannot follow orders. At least once a fight his legs pop up and bounce off someone’s chest like a rubber bullet. There follows a brief honeymoon wherein the opponent stays tall and strong, so much so that had you missed the kick, you would expect them to win, but then wind catches up, and they sink to the mat. It’s like watching a Jenga tower with only one safe block removed. You see it coming a mile away, even so, the destruction of another human being is a terrible thing to behold.

That doesn’t make it repugnant. I think we can all agree that the main reason all these brutish caveman sports sell out week after week is for the violence. Drunken rednecks stagnate under the hot stadium sun for a flash of twisted metal and the ripping scream of engines traveling far too fast for safety.

Football stadiums pack each week with beer swilling ruffians to watch Sean Taylor lay down the apocalypse for an unsuspecting wide receiver. Try as you might to enjoy the beauty and finesse of the sport, for every brilliant scramble or nail-biting kick, there’s at least one snot bubbler that left a helmet on the field and a scar on your brain.

So sport branches out, we add rackets, nets, balls and chess pieces to mask the violence. But it’s there, in the real athletes, there’s a twisted need to seek out the weak spot, to exploit and expand it for personal gain. Even in pingpong, and especially gambling, everyone is looking for a chink in the armor. So, when it comes down to the final score, and the new badminton champion of the world says, “I kick ass,” he means it.

Questions? Comments? Austin Rucker is a senior English major and can be reached for comment at

[email protected].

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