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LaRosa's Sweet Spot: Nov 4, 2009

11/4/2009 12:00:00 AM

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Nov 4, 2009


Someone needs to light me on fire and push me out of the back of a truck, because I'm so over this whole Andre Agassi thing I could yack.

Now, don't get me wrong. The story itself is actually pretty entertaining. You know, minus the meth, the child abuse and the lying. Which really only leaves the wigs and the gall. But oh the wigs and gall! That and the incidental stuff really has me by the shorthairs. Like Brooke Shields putting a picture of Steffi Graf up on her and Andre's fridge as inspiration to get in better shape before their wedding day? I mean come on, if you saw that in a Lifetime movie you'd call the bad writing police (they exist – when I was writing TV movies, they'd show up to my house 3, 4 times a night). But in real life it's hiiiiilarious. "My wig was like a chain and the ridiculously long strands in three colors like an iron ball which hung on it." This is comedy gold people.

No, what I'm over is all the moralizing about it. Not the "oh, lying is bad" stuff. More the torches and pitchforks of people so aghast that Their Trust Was Betrayed. Or even more ridiculous, He Betrayed Our Sport!

Now, some of that is just sour grapes. Perhaps the most confusing and personally affronting headline to come from this whole debacle is how much Andre Agassi hates tennis. Which, in our eyes, places him in the role of a lover we did nothing but support and cheer for until we were blue in the face who then suddenly turns and says 'Oh hey baby, real quick, I never loved you.' Now we're hurling his promise ring back at him in a huff. "My mother was right about you, you're a cad and a cheat and I hate you Andre Agassi!"

No one threw her ring harder than Martina Navratilova. She dedicated her entire life to tennis, playing her last match a month shy of her 50th birthday. So it shouldn't be too shocking to hear her compare Andre to Roger Clemens. Okay, it's a little shocking. Meth or even speed is hardly performance-enhancing (and I'd like to hear from one reader who's actually done either drug to convince me otherwise, because the armchair pharmacists are just that). Boris Becker and, to a degree, Federer and Nadal, were also none too pleased with the news. (And when Boris Becker tells you, you went too far, you know you're in trouble.) No one who dedicates their life to something wants to see it get pooped on.

And tennis fans, haven't we dedicated our lives in much the same way? Minus those pesky years in the gym and blistering hours on the practice courts? Aren't we slaves to the same stats, passengers in the same emotional rollercoaster as the players playing the matches, day in and day out, month after month, year after year?

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

But to be so outraged by something that happened 12 years ago, I mean really? A 26-year-old kid did drugs and lied about it. We're calling out the National Guard for this? Was it wrong? Duh. Does it go against our very nature as tennis junkies, hardwired to demand order and rules and fairness, who live and die by Hawk-Eye because the world exists only in black and white with not so much as a shade of gray? Oh, absolutely. But unfortunately life, unlike tennis, isn't an easy in or out call.

Not every player has Piotr Wozniacki or Sebastian Nadal for parents. Andre had someone much different. Mike Agassi was a violent guy who put results ahead of everything else, including (or more disturbing, especially) the emotional and physical well-being of his own child. So when it comes to Andre's state of mind back then, forget Who are we to judge, how about How are we to judge? (Again, I'd like to hear from one reader who's actually been raised by Mike Agassi to convince me otherwise.)

While we're on the subject, how about the people aghast Andre would talk about it today? Again, really? What kind of a WASP mentality is that? Isn't the truth supposed to set you free? Whether or not it's convenient for other people? And you can't tell me the guy needs book sales. Mr. Graf is doing just fine.

With his book OPEN, Andre's saying, look, you want to know me? Here I am. Like it? Great. Don't like it? Well, that's the risk I'm willing to take. Is it a risk? Oh hell yeah. As a wise man once said, Image is Everything. People are vicious, especially in this politically correct day and age. Step out of line and get squashed for it. And he is most definitely taking heat.

I sympathize with those upset by the news. I really do. There's no bigger bummer than a fallen idol. But life isn't black and white. People make mistakes. If we ditched everyone we invested in for screwing up, we'd be all alone. If for no other reason than everyone else ditched us. The true barometer is how we handle our mistakes. How we learn from them. While I was never a superfan of Agassi or a big ole believer in the Zen-master persona (sorry, Andre, I know you were lulled into thinking I was to this point), I am a superfan of his charter school in Las Vegas. Those kids are 100% better off having him in their lives. And I don't need anyone to convince me of that. Honestly, that's enough for me.

So, you know, sorry if you feel you got your sport pooped on. I guess I can just stand the smell.

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How many jokes can I make about a wig? Follow me on Twitter, at twitter.com/JamesLaRosa.