Bernard Tomic’s recent comments have many hot under the collar, but once again do they come as a surprise?
Tomic is simply another example of a modern athlete receiving all the rewards before they have actually achieved anything. Tomic may have all the potential in the world but as yet he has not shown the application or desire that the players he is being compared to, like Djokovic and Nadal, and that is why he is constantly an also-ran in major tournaments.
Not too long ago we featured on the show a young footballer involved with a major club in England. The player in question was not in the first team. He had been in the system for over five years and had received limited opportunities playing in the first team. When we had stopped recording and chatted casually he revealed that he too had no passion for the sport. That it was simply a job and a means to secure his future and that of his family.
As former Wimbledon Champion Boris Becker stated there are hundreds of players who would have given their right arm to play in the opening round of Wimbledon. Just as there are thousands who would have given anything to be a part of a major football club in one of the top competitions in the world.
The truth is professional sport, or sport at the highest level is tough. It is also a lonely place. As Scottish great Ally McCoist said “In football you don’t make many friends, but you have a lot of acquaintances.”
There are plenty with talent but there are only a small percentage who use that potential to the maximum and reach their fulfil their talent.
People seem to be upset that Bernard Tomic was paid tens of thousands for a game in which he admitted he was “bored” and in which he faked an injury. That anger is understandable, but what are people most upset about?
Are they upset that he threw how much money he has made and how that is the only motivation in our faces? Are they upset that he admitted that he is not driven like the greats to win major tournaments and then be ranked amongst the greats of the game?
Or is it that here is a player with immense potential who looks unlikely to ever fulfil the potential he has, when so many dream of simply playing at the level he is at? They say there is nothing worse than wasted potential, and any coach, player, fan or journalist will tell you that wasted talent is one of the saddest things to see.
Sadly it is a fact of human nature that some players, often talented ones, do not have the same drive to succeed as other less talented players. Sometimes it is because it has come too easy when they were young and they have blitzed everyone they have played. Then, when they find themselves amongst equally talented players they realise that they do not have the hunger for the fight. However for many it is then too late to get off the gravy train. They already have people around them pushing them forward, sponsors, coaches, national federations who have invested in them. It takes a big man or woman to stand up and say, “No, This is not for me.” It is an even bigger man to do it in this day and age when there is so much at stake financially.Why do many try and hang on and gain another year’s contract when deep down they know that they are finished. Going out at the top is now an outdated idea.
Just like the footballer, who was a little older than Tomic, he has confessed the same feeling that Tennis is simply a job. A means to earn money, very good money.
How many ordinary people go to work every day to a job they hate. They do what is necessary and do it without passion, and have no desire to be promoted. What is so different to an athlete doing the same?
Sure, most will say the money, but deep down is it simply that we expect every sports person to understand the privilege that they have living a life that many of us could only dream of?
Maybe the reason Tomic’s words stung so much amongst the average fans was the fact that he revealed that even in sport doing the same thing every day can become boring. That it is hard to be motivated. Maybe he made us realise that deep down it is not quite as glamorous as we would like to believe. Many would have felt that if a man with such talent has given up, and is simply going through the motions, what hope is there for the rest of us.
One thing that his comments made clear is that we should respect those who do make it to the top, who manage to keep that desire burning inside, and those that continually strive to be better yet may not ever make it to the top. For it is these athletes that keep the romance alive when they topple a giant. They are the ones who give us hope that every now and again the underdog can come out on top. Passion is what sport is all about. Frequently we see it suppressed by the powers that be, but without it, as Tomic has shown sport means nothing.