David Foster Wallace, one of the greatest contemporary writers, had this hypothesis: are sports champions not very intelligent individuals? When it comes to tennis, do you imagine idols like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and all others are like dazed apes? Or are they able to raise their spirits above all the bolts of the mind? Or, as Richard Ford – another great writer – argues, are they able to stay in a pleasant one-dimensional way? Honestly and personally, I believe that (at least talking about tennis), our idols are very intelligent, smart and prepared people, but let's see why there are those who claim otherwise.
David Foster Wallace was one of the greatest contemporary writers, a great tennis fan and also a practitioner. In his writings, the game was often the protagonist. He committed suicide in circumstances that are not yet fully understood in 2008.
Richard Ford, the author of Sportswriter, mentioned by TIME in their list 100 best novels written in English from 1923 to 2005, won the Pulitzer for fiction. David Foster Wallace wondered why sportspersons' biographies were so bad and why people kept buying them.
Wallace, however, had the answer: readers hoped to read as a sportsman could have all that success and become the best in his category. Measuring a tennis player, with the rankings and statistics is simple. Then in the collective imagination, a successful sportsman is beautiful and reading their feats satisfies the daily boredom.
Suggesting an answer to his query, Wallace said: "It could be that, indeed, the champions of sport are phenomena in their profession but, more generally, they dumb. Or, more benevolently, when they say in the third set I thought one point at a time, simply they have thought and done that, and that it is arbitrary, on our part, to judge them without (the) appeal of dumbs."
According to Richard Ford, professional athletes have been so accustomed since childhood, to focus only on the few things they do, that they have settled in what he calls pleasantly one-dimensional. Paraphrasing from him, he called it as: After all, would it make sense to think about the house purchase contract, the sick aunt, the meaning of life, the investment recommended by the broker while training, or playing, or preparing (for) a match?