Appreciating greatness

Matthew Roberson | Sports Editor | @mroberson22

In the wake of Serena Williams’ startling loss in last week’s U.S. Open semi-final, now is a perfect time to discuss the concept of greatness in sports. At the pace she was playing at before being upset by Roberta Vinci, it looked as though Williams would never lose again.

Such a remarkable level of dominance makes it almost too easy for fans to build unreasonable expectations. The past few years have conditioned us to believe that anything short of a tournament championship for Williams is a “disappointment” or a “choke”.

The perfect case study for this phenomenon is LeBron James. After it became clear that James’ athletic abilities were on other-wordly, basketball fans expected 30 points and 10 rebounds on a nightly basis. James got that dreaded and unfair label of being a “choker”.

Rather than tearing athletes down when a performance fails to live up to their expectations, we should instead marvel at the fact that such a level of performance is even capable of being reached.

We are truly lucky to be able to watch once-in-a-generation type athletes such as Williams, James, Sidney Crosby and Lionel Messi. Are they perfect? Of course not, but they are among the most athletically gifted people in the world and should be respected as such.

Knowing that what you are witnessing will likely never be matched for several decades is like glimpsing a comet.

You wouldn’t complain that the comet wasn’t as cool as you’d hoped, or could have done more to impress you, you’d simply stare at it with your mouth agape wondering how you got so fortunate.

That’s how I felt when watching LeBron James in the Finals against Golden State. Sure, his team lost. But LeBron did everything in his power to will his undermanned team to victory while reminding everyone that he is one of the top 10 basketball players ever to walk the earth.

When a world class athlete is at the height of their powers, soak it in and fully enjoy the opportunity to see them.

Much like how I want to hear any new song that Drake puts out, or watch every episode of Broad City because they are in their creative primes, I want to use my sports fandom to treasure these giants of their respective sports.