Many years ago (1978), I enjoyed reading Fred Inglis’s book The Name of the Game.
In it, he described how sport connects us. He says of his study of sport:
I tried to select and analyse aspects of the cultural life in question in such a way as to discover why men and women gave their energies to these activities, … and how their efforts conduced to shaping a tradition within which people might live good lives.
In a subsequent discussion of culture (2004:7), Fred notes that culture:
makes it possible for both the individual performing an action and a spectator interpreting it to characterize the action for what it is, and to perform it as such.
The wonderful Men’s Australian Tennis Open 2017 Final sent me off to revisit Fred’s work.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal embodied all that I hope for in sport (and in life). Their humble acknowledgment of each other and their sense of their place in the game has set a standard embedded in excellence (technical, tactical and ethical).
Watching the game gave me a profound sense of warmth.
As Fred would say, we have memories to share as we craft our own stories about the final.
He concludes his discussion of culture with this working definition:
Let the study of culture be the study of enacted values as each assumes its place in the narrative of the day. (2004: 163)
I hope we are open to the narrative of humble acknowledgement that developed in Melbourne on Sunday evening. Sport could be very different.
Alfredo Compos (Twitter)
Mark Upton has extended this story … delightfully.