The French Open is in full force, and the number 2 ranked player, Roger Federer is not particularly happy with the security in place at the tournament, on and off center court. On Sunday, a young man approached Federer as he was leaving the court, and snapped a selfie with the tennis titan. Federer was very vocal following the incident, and has complained to the tournament organizers as well as the media.
Federer, calm and poised both on and off the court, has exhibited little sense of entitlement, and has funneled over a million dollars to his charity which aides under-served youth. The media in general has found him boring, and perhaps this is why they have focused in on this issue, hoping to uncover a narcissist under the cool and collected surface. In some sense, it is the perfect media trap, a young teenager who made a rash decision (and what teenager doesn’t) trying to get a picture with his tennis hero, combined with an unusually outspoken and complaining Federer.
Fans of course are an integral part of any sport. The people who pay for the tournaments, buy the endorsed gear, and contribute to Federer’s tourney purses are the spectators and fans. Without them, a player may be great, but would have little opportunity and/or motivation to compete. Not to mention such a career would be economically unfeasible. At some level, we look to the players to acknowledge this relationship, an expectation that goes beyond simply allowing fans to observe from afar.
With all things though, there must be balance. Players cannot be expected to spend every free moment signing autographs and making themselves personally available to the fans. The expectation of simple courtesy towards the players should not be forfeit. In the big picture though, a single fan breaking the rules to take a picture, while inconvenient, is hardly a issue worth addressing publicly. In doing so, Federer, regardless of the nobility of his intent to address the personal safety of the players, has provided the media with what they have sought for during his career. A reason to question his character.