The politics of losing when you try your hardest

Practical Politics

David L. Horne OW oped | 9/5/2019, midnight

Roger Federer will not win the 2019 U.S. Open Tennis Championship. 

This is in spite of the very boisterous crowd support from a sellout 23,000 fans in Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium, New York, Tuesday night (the largest professional tennis stadium in the world). This is in spite of the fact that when he finally retires from the game (which will be sooner than later) somewhere north of his 37th birthday, he will have amassed the greatest record of winning professional tennis matches of any man who has played professional tennis before, and most, if not all, of the professional men’s tennis players who will follow him. Currently, he is second only to Jimmy Connors in total matches won and it is a close second.

Federer currently has won more Grand Slam matches (the real measure of a tennis player’s greatness)—20—than any other male tennis player living or dead. Rafael Nadal may eclipse that one record, however, given he’s only two Grand Slams behind Federer, is a few years younger than Federer, and still has a real chance to win the 2019 U.S. Open. Federer has been ranked number one in the world consecutively longer than any other male tennis player (237 weeks), and basically, he can still really play.

Besides, the opponent across the net from Federer Tuesday night—Grigor Dimitrov—had been vanquished seven straight times in previous matches by Federer and had previously appeared hapless in those contests.

Yes, Mr. Federer looked to all the world as the probable winner Tuesday night with his ticket already punched for the semi-finals on Thursday. The betting crowd in Vegas and elsewhere had him as the almost certain winner.

But that’s why the games are played and not just prognosticated. Mr. Federer lost. Like Mighty Casey at the bat, the sure thing got outplayed and outlasted. 

Sure, he was a little banged up, and he’s certainly old by professional tennis standards. Very few men at 37 are still playing pro tennis—or virtually any other professional sport—at such a high level as is Federer. He struggled with his back by the fourth set, and reliable forehands failed him. 

His conqueror—Demetrov—now has his best chance to finally win the U.S. Open major tournament this weekend for the first time (Federer’s already won it five times), but more than likely he will not. He’ll probably be beaten by Nadal.

The point is: Life always provides us chances to change our fate, in spite of the odds. We must keep at it and stay in the game.

African-Americans, and global Africans themselves, will eventually rise to the top and see the horizon from a completely different perspective, but only if we keep at it. Only looking at our recent past history and letting that be our guide will not get us to or over the mountaintop, as Dr. King said we surely should.

Yes, we can quit. We have plenty of reasons to justify that. It’s a lot harder to keep trying to get ahead when you’ve only seen and felt the tail end, when you only know the mud being kicked in one’s face.

But we must know we deserve better. We are worth better. We will be better and we will do better. Against seemingly impossible odds, Federer’s opponent could have simply mailed it in. He didn’t. And he won.

We will win too. Things right now are not where they should be for Black folks in the world. But they are also certainly not where they were. 

To us all: Forward and never quit!

Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.

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