Andre Agassi, Goran Ivanisevic, Tiger Woods, Michael Shumacher, Mika Hakkinen, Sachin Tendulkar, Leandar Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi. A list of sports guys I like. All champions. All flawed in one way or other.
Ok, with that list out of the way I will now let you in on a secret. This is not what I set out to write. I was supposed to write about why we like what we like. My explaination of the hard-to-explain phenomenon of liking something. It was supposed to be all-encompassing and insightful, looking at this phenomenon from all possible angles, from the uniqueness and randomness of human thought to the socialogical and communal influences that dictate what we like and don't. This was supposed to be my attempt at coming across as being wise and wordly and other similar stuff. So I started listing down those names of the sportsmen I like (it doesn't include everyone I like but the list is close to complete) and thought I'd take it from there.
Then came the realization. While the list lists my favorites, these were also the same names that feature in the all time hate-list of some of my friends because of their flaws. How could that be? Then it hit me that I didn't have the first traces of a clue regarding the what and why of liking something. Of course, I like lots of stuff and dislike lots more and I can give a passably convincing reason for both. But that hasn't, I discovered, equipped me to explain the reason(s) behind why people like and dislike certain things and why people differ in what they like and don't. I realised that the stuff about randomness of human thought and sociological influences was nothing more than me putting that sentence together because I knew the words. And that it sounded nice and educated when I said it out aloud.
So instead of trying to use research, more research, yoga, genetics and philosophical MJ (Mumbo-Jumbo for the uninitiated) to try and explain "Likes and Dislikes", I will just leave you with reasons why I like the guys in the list above and their flaws.
- Andre Aggasi - Bad boy gone good. Kept 'Pistol' Pete honest when he was at his best. Was a true character. Of course the fact that he is married to 'Fraulein Forehand' aka Steffi Graf also plays a major part in why I like this guy. Recently revealed that he had done drugs during his 'bad boy' days.
- Goran Ivanisevic - Untill I saw him serve, I used to think that a tennis ball could travel only in straight lines. He was the ACE, pun totally intended. The guy didn't know that the word 'consistency' existed except when he was serving those curve-ball aces.
- Tiger Woods - I now know that an Eagle, though definitely a bird, is not a birdie, which most certainly had nothing to do with birds! And this knowledge is because I started following golf after this guy came riding a huge wave of hype and publicity and went on to prove that every bit of it was justified. His clean-cut, nice guy image took the most horrendous beating this side of a boxing ring after the revelation of his numerous outside-the-marriage hook-ups (was it 12 affairs? or 16?).
- Micheal Schumacher - The Man. Formula 1 fed my need for speed during my formative years and I probably wouldn't have given even the first glance to Formula 1 if not for the fact that I started watching it in '94 when this man was beginning to make history. The guy has a ruthless streak which made him forget a couple of times that Formula 1 is a sport where people can get hurt real bad if you trip them up. Thank God that the only thing that got hurt those couple of times was his reputation.
- Mika Hakkinen - MS is a seven time world champion because Mika was there. Otherwise, MS' count might have been more. This guy had everything to be The Man. The speed, the skill, the ruthlessness, the car. Except for the fact that couldn't motivate himself, he got bored with it all and retired.
- Sachin Tendulkar - I wonder why they don't sign him for a Duracell Ad. Twenty years and he is still the (Demi)God of cricket he has been for the majority of the last two decades. Some say he buckles up when put under pressure. And that he plays for records. All we know is that he is the best we have had in quite a long time.
- Paes and Bhupathy - The Indian Express. An appearance in all 4 grand slam finals in a single calendar year and winning two of them. A career Grand Slam in doubles. Top ranked. An Indian tennis team which literally swept everything in front of them on the world stage was a dream come true for me. Untill they hit that shiny red self destruct button called EGO.