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Lost in translation

By Tom Toles


Not really about sports

Apparently I can't make a single assertion without having to take it back, many times over. I've promised multiple times now not to write about sports, a subject like all others that I know next-to-nothing about. I will evade my rule this time by saying this is about what happens AFTER sports. A while ago Hank Stuever wrote a great piece for the Post Style section about the Ugly Sports Face. The premise being that grace in victory has given way to an unseemly and unattractive facial triumphalism.

I'd like to extend his complaint to include the Self-indulent Fall-down. I don't watch a lot of (any) sports on television, but I do see the photos the day after, and I've noticed that, in tennis at least, winners seem to increasingly feel the need to LIE DOWN IN VICTORY. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, but humility it isn't. The meaning of this particular pose is "not only did I WIN, but THIS win was the absolutely most UNBELIEVABLE win in the history of winning!" Amazing how often that happens these days! The Ugly Sports Face just doesn't do it justice! I don't know about you, but Raphael Nadal winning a tennis game doesn't surprise me the way it apparently surprises him. --Tom Toles




By Tom Toles  | June 8, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Middle East  
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Oh, I don't know, Tom. If Rafa wants to celebrate in exultant missionary submissiveness, I wouldn't go so far as to say he is merely lying down. He's concluding his struggle.

Posted by: CarterNicholas | June 10, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

By the way, it's spelled Rafael, not Raphael. And with what he's been through, he so deserves to lie down in victory! It wasn't just one match, it was a journey that took over a year to complete. Congrats to Rafa on a "perfect" clay season, retaking Roland Garros and reclaiming #1. Vamos!

Posted by: ackack | June 8, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Busting your a55 for 4-6 hours playing top-notch tennis earns one the right to collapse in elation at winning... heck... you could collapse in disappointment too.

Posted by: Lalas | June 8, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

On another note, or calendar page for today...
"If civilization is going to invade the waters of the earth, let it be first of all to carry a message of respect---respect for all life."

Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Too bad "some" refused to listen...

Posted by: bertzel | June 8, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

You are my favorite cartoonist.
(The Washington Post has been my home page for more than 10 years.)
Your sense of humor is right up my alley.
I want to thank you for your enhanced site, here.
It's very enjoyable to read what's on your mind and a delight to be able to respond to some of your cartoons as a device to thank you for all your hard work.
And for your comments, such as this one about tennis match reactions.
When John McEnroe used to go ballistic over a service call, that's one thing.
This gratuitious display of aggression by these competitors as the match goes forward on each point is more than just distracting; it's childish and unpleasant to watch.
Look at photos of Nadal taken during the match; he completes a well-played point in his favor and he bares his teeth like an angry orangutan.
To me, this behavior is most unsportsmanlike.
Currently, we're seeing some behavior similar to this coming from Tiger Woods recently when he sinks a particularly difficult point in front of a large gallery.
Something tells me Tiger wouldn't act that way if his father were still at his side.
In my opinion, expending all this aggressive energy not only detracts from the view of the game, I believe it actually works against the athlete's quality of play and makes it more difficult for them to prevail successfully because they expend so much energy bleeding off emotion, rather than focusing on perfection.
Just sayin' ...

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | June 8, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Tom Toles! I love your witty cartoons, but this one actually made me laugh out loud!! "Episotomy?!"... which btw was recently reversed as SOP in delivery rooms...thank God as it actually CAUSED the tears! don't know how many people "got" that...but thanks, as I think you did.
Thanks for my daily laugh!

Posted by: sgoewey | June 8, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

if this is due to exhaustion, does that mean he couldn't have lasted five sets?

Posted by: Rudesan | June 8, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I would like to point out that Raphael Nadal freedom to express his self in this case is what is great about France, not the USA since this was at the French Open, though he would have been free to fall down at the US Open as well.

I would like to say that I always took the fall down as a combination of exhaustion, and perhaps a statement about how hard the victory was to achieve. That would make it the definition of sportsmanship if not dignity.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | June 8, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Lost in Translation brings to mind Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves. A story I read as a child from one of my favorite books, Tales from The Arabian Nights. Still have that book after all these years. Anyway, there is a lesson to be learned there isn’t there?
The Tower of Babel comes to mind also…I think I read somewhere, once, that when there is peace in the middle east the end of the world is at hand…maybe we shouldn’t be so eager to solve that problem, then again…
I have empathy for those who engage in sports and achieve their goal….they live, work, think, and breathe, for that moment…an appropriate “release”, in my opinion.

Now Toles, are not your daily drawings and commentaries your game of sport?
I guess I could be wrong. Not the first time : )

Posted by: bertzel | June 8, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Oh, contraire!!! All sports is about emotion. This was not just about "winning a tennis game" as if it were some foregone conclusion. This was about 2 weeks of intensity. There's potential risks of're playing the best of the best of the best. When you win, it's a release of all you've been thru to get to this point. The audience shares your emotion. That's why they allow it...that's why they clap...that's why they show up. Everything about our society is rooted in self expression. We are NOT about repression or low-balling our responses and it's evident in our culture...especially our politics. That's what's great about being in this country...YOU GET TO EXPRESS YOURSELF.

Posted by: SpiritQuest | June 8, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"Ms. Thomas said what many, maybe most, Americans are thinking."

Then someone ought to tell them the truth. We do have alies to protect and enemies to attack until they agree to peace.

What good comes from leaving before the job is done?

It would be a coward's exit.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | June 8, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

What the Middle East needs is Peace and it needs it now. Have no illusions. Time is running out.

With peace, we will see the natural interest of Jews and Palestinians coming to common purpose and a natural alliance. They will rule the region. No wonder so many Arabs fear peace. They want to win.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | June 8, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

On tennis: tennis games last for hours! I'd lie down too after one, no matter the result...

Posted by: YangMu | June 8, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Psst try---- too liberal to fail

Posted by: carbonhog | June 8, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Thomas said what many, maybe most, Americans are thinking.

Her exit was certainly spectacular.

Posted by: SuperGriz | June 8, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

You forgot one. "Obama won't succeed". Do you think maybe he should appoint Helen Thomas as a Middle East Peace Envoy?

Posted by: bobbo2 | June 7, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

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