A name for the game: humble acknowledgement

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.




Photo Credits

Alfredo Compos (Twitter)

Federer Fan website


Mark Upton has extended this story … delightfully.

View at Medium.com

Game, Set, Match: IBM Slamtracker Data Wimbledon 2012

The Wimbledon Championships concluded on Sunday with the Men’s Singles Final between Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

Before the Championship I posted about the data to be provided by IBM.

At the Championships as a whole in the Men’s draw the following events were recorded by IBM’s Slamtracker:

Of these, Roger Federer:

and, Andy Murray:

The result of the Final was:

The match details were:

The IBM Slamtracker offered Keys to each match.

Overall the Keys offered for the Men’s Final were:

By set, these Keys were:

Set 1

Set 2:

Set 3:

Set 4:

IBM provided Momentum graphs too.

In Set 1 this was the pattern (Andy Murray in purple):

By Set 4 (Roger Federer in green):

I am really impressed by the amount of data available for secondary analysis through IBM Slamtracker. As the data progresses in its detail it will be interesting to see how the visualisations of the data change too.

I could not find any link to IBM’s SecondSight data from the Centre Court.

That Shot!

Sometimes you are in the right place as a player and if you are fortunate as a spectator.


This morning (Australia EST) I had the great good fortune to see live Roger Federer‘s shot (6-5 third set, 30-0) to take his US Open semi-final to match point. He described his shot in the immediate after game interview as his greatest shot ever. (See AFP story here with image, and an early example on YouTube.)

What was wonderful about the shot in real-time was that it looked possible. He created time to execute a shot practiced many times in training. I think it will become an iconic moment in tennis history and the slow motion replays of the stroke have some great spontaneous moments of recognition. Novak Djokovic, the crowd and Roger Federer have wonderful reactions.



In one moment it brought back Johann Cruyff‘s drag of the ball and gave a great opportunity to celebrate virtuosity. This virtuosity redefines and transforms what we think a game is.



These moments leave you happy that you were around and for coaches and athletes offer new possibilities.