The only thing America loves more than a winner is an underdog. Andre Agassi has been the former AND the latter… twice.
Monday night, I had to stay up past midnight to watch him win a 4-set match in the opening round of the U.S Open tennis tournament. Years ago, I sat on a hill and watched him–at the time an ex-pro–play a Tier 3 qualifying match at McCambridge Rec Center in Burbank. This would be like Michael Jordan showing up at the local YMCA looking for a game. But Andre was there because the rules of tennis insist that a player win his way back to the pro tour. Michael just showed up back in Chicago. Andre had to earn it.
He’s played a tournament career spanning two hairstyles and then no hair. He’s been an underdog, then champion, then underdog, then champion… and again he’s now an underdog. Everyone (at least in America) wants him to win. Most of us think he’ll lose anytime.
I wonder what it is that causes us to root for someone who’s made more money than us, is more secure than we are, and who’s legacy will last longer than most of ours. Perhaps it goes back to the Garden. Perhaps it goes back to the Incarnation. Most everyone I know–including the networks, the United States Tennis Associatuon, and my friends who’ve flown to New York–just want him to go forward a little while longer.