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Thursday, June 5, 2014

MENTAL TENNIS


MENTAL TENNIS

Upon winning a tennis match, the Guardian reported the event as follows:

Petkovic, a deep-thinker who had entertained the media with her reflections on Nietzsche earlier in the week, wanted to talk after her best win in years and gave a press conference nearly as long as Götzen-Dämmerung oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophiert. But a little easier to understand.

“I have to say today I was in a real zone,” Petkovic said. “I didn’t think at all. I was just focused on what I had to do. Mentally I was really good.” Reading Nietzsche will do that to you.


It is difficult to judge who is more brainless, the tennis player or the reporter, unless one credits the reporter with a really clever pun with his last line – which I doubt. I am inclined to think that “Reading Nietzsche will do that to you” is meant to support Petkovic’s assertion that ‘mentally she was really good’, i.e. reading Nietzsche toughened her up mentally, for as we know from the common sporting mantra that in the top echelons of sports competition it’s the mental superiority that wins the game - top players all have the same skills.

Of course we (you and I) also know that this is a lot of nonsense, crediting brawn with brain. As such it is hilarious that Petkovic is described as a ‘deep-thinker’ (maybe writing this phrase with a hyphen is another inside-joke) when during the game ‘she didn’t think at all’! Does she ever think when not playing the game? I doubt it. Reading Nietzsche should not be equated with ‘understanding’ Nietzsche, for as the reporter indicates, reading Götzen-Dämmerung oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophiert (in German, no less) meets with little or no understanding on his part, and while Petkovic as a German tennis lass might well be better qualified in the language stakes, one would think that she would be able to articulate her witticisms accordingly, and not come up with the usual boring and brainless sports phrases like the meaningless “I was just focused on what I had to do”. Of course her English language skills may not be up to it but she could have tried a little bit harder at least.

In the end one cannot but help to credit her and the reporter with the Cartesian non-sequitur ‘non cogito, ergo sum’ – a motto many a celebrity sports star and their reporters will sign up to in the absence of the real thing ‘cogito, ergo sum’. I am arrogant enough to say that Nietzsche couldn’t have said it better himself, and BTW I do hope that Petkovic wins the French Open simply because she grunts less than Sharapova.