Symbolic Interaction &The U.S.Open

Bill Dwyer’s article”Blake,Serena and Race Issue” in the sports section of the August 11th L.A Times, drew a tight circle around Serena’s quest for the calendar year grand slam and her pursuit of the other Graf record of 22 total grand slams(3rd best in women’s tennis)with the forcible detention and slamming to the ground of James Blake the black former tennis star on the previous Tuesday on his way to Arthur Ashe stadium.Blake’s treatment while standing in front of his hotel ,waiting for a car to take him to Arthur Ashe stadium was yet another case of a person of color being brutalized by law enforcement.The stadium was named in honor of the late Arthur Ashe,black man, a model of behavior and restraint who was also a great tennis star(defeating Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon in that famous 70’s match. If Serena thought at all of the symbolism of her ultimate victory in terms of race, the task of winning through would have been intolerably difficult but not likely to surface as such against the 43rd ranked player in the world,Roberta Vinci, who at 5’4″ had never gotten to a majors semifinal.The odds were 300 to 1 against the Italian doubles player.Adding the symbolic meaning did not reduce those odds significantly.Symbolism is powerful. In the previous women’s semifinal the number 2 player in the world who had embraced her Romanian origin,dined with and posed with Ion Tiriac and Nadia Comaneci the night before her semifinal match with Flavia Pennetta the 23rd ranked player in the world also an Italian and a formidable doubles player, flamed out.Simone Halep was handily defeated.
One might conclude that the symbolism was too much for the 23 year old; one might also say that she was simply outplayed.Additionally Serena was the last American left in our own tournament.Bethanie Mattek Sands an American doubles player gave Serena a good scare before bowing out to her in the third round so the world knew that there was something about the speed and agility of the doubles players that could give Serena trouble.
The unthinkable happened! Serena pounded her way, not without difficulty, to victory in the first set and then the roof collapsed with the agile Italian volleying masterfully and charging the net to be passed only by Serena’s best shots.
One could conclude that the weight of the symbolism was just too much for Serena and she had to lose.Serena is thoughtful(perhaps not so thoughtful as Venus) but her sentiment will probably suffice.” She(Vinci) played the best game of her career…she played out of her mind…”
In the world of tennis such victories by low ranked players are usually followed by their elimination in the next match.with 2 such victories to ponder, the tennis experts would give the next match to the higher ranking player.PENNETTA DID DISPOSE OF THE FEISTY VINCI IN THE FINAL.WAS SYMBOLIC INTERACTION AT WORK EVEN HERE? ISN’T IT ALWAYS…?



  1. I like it. Daedal2207 observes symbolic interaction at work – “isn’t it always?” (By the way, of many talent options, it looks like Daedal2207 could have been a sports writer.) Refined blends of psychology and the proper mix of ingredients that make up the essence of psychiatry are apparently on pragmatic display at high levels of sport competitions. As Dumbo believed that he needed a magical feather in order to fly, we humans exhibit a great ability to invent myriad forms of performance-enhancing idea-magic. Status ideas that are devoid of substance can be enlisted for this service. Fictional beliefs that skin color will make a given individual better (or lesser) is just one example of our use of magic feathers. It must be the belief, not the feather that provides (for both good and ill) the winning (or losing) edge.

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