When I turned on Breakfast at Wimbledon this morning I was prepared to cheer for Roger Federer because he is so good. Then I saw that LeBron James had tweeted best wishes to Andy Murray. Don’t tell anyone but I cheated and decided to watch Andy Murray’s game. I was impressed during the first two games as Murray beat Federer. During the third game of the first set I started to feel my energy going down. Can’t explain it, but I felt drained. I love tennis but I was not enjoying it. The more I focused on Murray, the greater became the pull on my energy. As the intensity increased, I noticed that it was not just me. There was a drain on Andy Murray’s energy too. I am not talking about low energy, I mean a definite forceful pull against him. I could feel it like the force of a firehose, but nothing that you can see. Even when Murray won a game I still felt the pull of opposing energy. I studied Murray’s fairly consistent level of play trying to understand what was going on. With the exception of several missed first serves Murray was playing fairly well.
Then the rain came and stopped the match. Secretly I hoped it would rain for 7 days. I was sure that would give Murray a chance to regain and balance his energy. After the rains stopped and the match resumed, I watched as Murray slipped once, then twice. At first I couldn’t understand why Roger Federer was not slipping or falling. Then the answer came. I got it. It came to me in the fourth set as I watched Murray fall a second time. He not only fell but he flipped 360 degrees upside down on the ground, feet went into the air and over his head. As he flipped I saw his black underwear beneath his white T-shirt and white shorts.
I realized that the drain of energy against Andy Murray was a pull against an entire culture. Andy Murray was raised in a British culture in which you never show your underwear, not even accidentally. Yet, he was playing a game that forced him to get dirty and sometimes show his underwear.
My limited knowledge of history recalls that in 500 a band of Anglo-Saxon’s landed in Southampton Water and for the next five centuries created a unified culture in Britain, which they called England. It had a remarkable vernacular literature, a standardized language, sophisticated forms of taxation, coinage, and chancery. The aristocracy played a significant part in Anglo-Saxon England. Codes gave allowances for the privilege of noble birth. A tariff computed a fixed value of a person’s life. The hereditary aristocracy was later merged into a middle-class who had risen to power under the King. Lords and the landed gentry shared in the King’s wealth. In the eleventh century England was old and wealthy, rich partly due to the wool trade and its military strength.
While Britain’s culture is formal and proper, Murray was playing a sport that forces you to get dirty and sometimes show your underwear. Then I knew that Murray would never win unless the force within him could pull against his entire culture and get down in the mud and get down-right dirty. As I watched Murray in the fourth set dig from his soul, I understood that Andy Murray was in a fight against himself. That was not Roger Federer’s dilemma. At Wimbledon today, Andy Murray had to fight the inner person who had been trained, molded under nobility standards, yet, Murray was trying to win a game that required him to get dirty. No matter how good his talent or performance, he could not win that fight from without. That was an inner fight. As Federer won each game, Murray pulled back against that energy like pushing a ton uphill. Murray became more aggressive in the fourth set. His serve was more powerful and calculated. That was Murray’s inner soul longing to win, defying gravity’s pull against him. Then Murray double faulted. That was the old culture inside of him pulling against his inner most desire declaring, “You can’t win. You can’t get dirty. It’s not you.” At that point, Roger Federer was not Murray’s opponent; Murray had an inner opponent that extended generations and centuries back in history. This powerful force fighting against Murray was the energy I felt earlier in the first set.
The energy shifted briefly in the fourth set. There was a moment when Murray had changed the force of gravity’s pull. I pondered that Murray may actually pull it off. I watched Murray in the fourth set desperately fighting to win. But he gave up some of his power through frustration. When he needed energy the most is when he gave up some of that power. Sabotage is what makes you give up just before reaching the finish line. Each time he took control and yanked his energy back, that rope around his neck tightened, that’s when his frustration showed. When Murray threw down the racket I heard a voice within him shout, “I won’t let you win.” The sad part is that he listened to it.
The tears that flowed after Murray’s loss were tears of the inner Murray fighting desperately to go against years of opposition, for Murray, it amounted to individual oppression.
My “innerstanding” of history is that when Martin Luther King said, “We shall overcome,” this is the real opposing force that I need to work on first before expressing frustration at an opponent in the outer world. When all is said and done, the inner stuff is what really matters. More powerful than money, color, or gender, is the will to win.
“Murray, you can’t win until you overcome that inner force against you. Sabotage is a powerful force, stronger than any competitor. Not until you resolve it, will you win. When you do resolve it, look out world, there will be no army that can withstand the force of your desire to win.