Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sports and Women in Strawberry Land

1. 'Sharapova is in town' - reported the local media on February last year. The russian born , blonde tennis player Maria Sharapova (currently living in USA), number 5 in the world classament , made her glamorous appearance at the tennis stadium of my hometown as leader of Russia's Fed Cup Team against Israel. The stadium which hosts international and national tennis tournaments was built in 1975 on a patch of strawberry land. (Strawberries are the icon/visit card of the town which was in its beginning a rural place with vast strawberry fields. Click on the above Wikipedia picture to get an idea of the stadium).

There was a lot of emotion involved. The first match out of two, was to be held on Saturday and that made the religious circles very angry. These circles protested and also prophesized that profanation of the holy day of Sabbath will assure defeat of the israeli team. Well, defeat it was.

The stadium was packed with thousands of male tennis fans who were quite rude towards the diva. They shouted at her sexist remarks , and imitated her screaming everytime she hit the ball. When interviewed , she said that this kind of crowd behavior drives her to play better, and leads her to victory.

On Sunday, at the end of the decisive match, when the two finalists shook hands, people overheard Sharapova telling the defeated israeli player, Shachar Peer: 'You deserved it' . Apparently she said that in revenge for something that had happened on a previos match . Not very nice and not very sporting, coming from someone at the top of the tennis world like Sharapova.

2. My home town has a successful women basketball team with a woman coach that is an interesting and tough 'strawberry' herself . The initial name of the team was Lachen , the next Anda, and the present name Electra. There is a story behind the change of names and it's called Sponsorship.

A certain millionaire whose young wife , Anda, had died of cancer wanted to immortalize her fighting against the disease. He thought that the fighting spirit of the Lachen women basketball team would do nicely, so he offered sponsorship on the condition that the team bears the name of his beloved wife .
A few years later, the millionaire remarried , the sponsorship ended, and the team adopted a new name, that of the new sponsor Electra, consummer goods company.

I know very little about sports or sponsorship, but I felt something was wrong here.
Life goes on, the husband gets a new wife, the team gets a new sponsor, but what about the memory of the deceased woman whose name has been removed from the team? There's probably some answer , I just don't know what it is.


  1. That is a wonderful observation. Memorials should be forever.

  2. I agree Duta - a person's legacy shouldn't change just because the people who remember it do...

  3. Autumnforest, The Bug,

    After publishing my post, I decided to google the name and came upon a website: 'Anda's spirit'. It shows a young beautiful woman, her husband and their four boys.

    Being a millionaire, and because of the boys, I suppose (and there's some mention of that) the husband did some other things to preserve her memory such as donations to cancer research and writing a book. Perhaps, the basketball team had demands that made it difficult for him to continue with his sponsorship.

  4. Certainly makes one stop and think about honoring a memory...

  5. i know absolutely nothing about tennis, or sports in general, but i do know bad behavior when i see it.....the male tennis fans were rude and sharapova was rude as well. most time bad behavior comes back to kick you.

  6. Yes, I agree the least that money bags husband could do would be to continue the sponsorship in his deceased wife's name. Probably the new wifey-poo through a fit.

  7. You always write the most interesting things. I learn so much about other parts of the world from you.


  8. I am so often disillusioned with these so called sporting heros. She Had a brilliant fighting approach to the game by channelling her anger because of the crowd into beating her opponent but then ruined the effect by stooping to the level of insults herself. My favourite sport of football was recently smeared by cheating when a well looked up to 'hero' of the game handled the ball resulting in a goal which knocked my country (Ireland)out of the world cup.

  9. Cheryl,

    It sure does. There are lots of ways to honor a memory; this one was perhaps, not the proper one.

    Angel Mc,

    I'm with you on this. "I do know bad behavior when I see it". Both the tennis fans and Sharapova behaved rudely.

    Ronda Laveen,

    Indeed, he should have continued the sponsorship. Whatever the circumstances, removing the name was shameful.

    Sue(Someone's Mom),

    I'm glad you think so. Thanks for the kind words.

  10. Îmi plac lucrurile profunde şi aspectele analizate în această manieră. Poate dacă am cântări întotdeauna fiecare situaţie şi am proceda în consecinţă am trăi într-o lume mai bună. Nu îmi plac oamenii care uită de unde au plecat, care devin snobi şi calcă pe cadavre, cum s-ar spune.
    Nu sunt de acord nici cu ideea de a face un sacrificiu cu orice preţ.

  11. Rainy West,

    You're so right, about Sharapova and about 'heros' like the one who knocked Ireland out of the World Cup. Of one thing I'm sure: you wouldn't be among rude fans; you sound to me the perfect well mannered Irish gentleman.

    Bianca Popa,

    Imi place felul tau de a te exprima.

    Intradevar, traim intr-o lume cam rea. Oamenii se comporta superficial ,si nu analizeaza fiecare situatie in profunzime;cei ce ajung la ceva in viata devin snobi si nu se mai uita inapoi;se inmultesc cei ce 'calca pe altii in picioare'. Din pacate.

  12. It must have been very difficult to have staged this tournament on the day of the Holy Sabbath,you would have thought Sharapova would have considered this and shown some dignity,after all,she did win.
    Rude,is an understatement.

  13. Duta,
    Another wonderful, interesting and educational post! I won't write too much because my finger is still sore, but this was too good a post to not comment at all.

  14. I played basketball all through high school and there was a motto on our gym wall which our coaches always made us aware of (win or lose). It was:

    "It isn't if you Win or Lose, but how you Play the Game"

    In this case, I think the fans and the diva all played the game poorly. In an age where sports figures earn more than Presidents it seems little to ask that they have the decency to handle themselves with dignity and respect. After all, they are the icons our children look up to.

    It seems poorly planned to come to a host country and schedule a community function on their Holy Day. How hard would it have been to check these things out ahead of time.

    Looking at the stadium, my heart longed to see the Strawberry Fields...

  15. sports now belongs to business, not the masses. . .it's too bad that even the little league teams must run onto the field with sponsor names emblazoned across their chests. . .the cost of living has a price on even on child's play.

  16. matron,

    I think that ,in principle, it's the Sports Authorities that fix the day of the match, but Sharapova being a star does have a say in it too. She should have interfered asking not to hurt religious people's feelings.


    Thanks for your warm words. I appreciate your effort of typing with a sore finger. Hope it gets better soon.

    C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson,

    I like the moto; it should appear on every gym wall and stadium wall too.
    Your comment sums up perfectly the issue of 'how we play the game'.

    As for the strawberry fields, they were sacrificed on the altar of sport games. It hurts.


    Everything nowadays is business. This women basketball team has been struggling a lot to get funds from the municipality and from the Sports and Education Ministry, but it appears that without sponsors it's hard for it to survive despite its achivements.

  17. Growing up I remember watching John McEnroe battle Bjorn Borg and the incredibly different attitudes displayed by both men. One indicated the future of tennis, the other still displayed the controlled behavior of the past.

    I much preferred Borg, by the way. The antics of professional athletes may make for more drama on fields and courts, but I personally respected the contained, well-behaved athletes who not only had athletic prowess but decorous behavior.

    As for the lapsed sponsorship, perhaps the man in question had a fundamental disagreement with something, and felt it was no longer a good memorial to his late wife? I don't know all the facts, but perhaps rather than no longer memorializing her with the sports team, he felt something else was more fitting?

    I'm not sure. I do think it's awfully easy to judge him negatively, but I'd be doing so from what it appears to be, which may not actually be what it is.

  18. Land of Shimp,

    I also preferred Bjorn Borg for the same reasons you did.

    As for the sponsorship issue, I know only the dry facts as they appeared in the local newspaper; these are probably not all the facts, so I do agree with you that we mustn't perhaps judge the husband in a negative manner.

  19. Again you brought us an interesting insightful read that makes us stop and think about how we honor others. Great post girl!

    Have a wonderfully blessed day!!!

  20. Nezzy's back in town. Welcome! Thanks for visiting and for your kind words.
    Have a blessed day you too!

  21. This is a sad story...and unfortunately I've heard and seen similar ones. But I think that what's really important in our life is the way we know to enjoy every moment and our impact on others. I'd prefer to have my name mentioned by someone I helped or inspired in one way, rather than having it engraved on a building or something like that.

  22. Vert Ange,

    Welcome! Thanks for your comment. I do like your preference - having your name "mentioned by someone I helped or inspired...".

  23. Once people get to the top they think they deserve it and so it is sad that folks feel that way. Also, to the man with the bucks, he is a JERK to yank sponsorship just because he remarried. I think he has dishonored the brave lady who fought cancer. Better he had put up a memorial rather than sponsorship as it would have been a lasting tribute. Peace

  24. Well that's sad that he did that unless they had a contract on how long he would sponsor the team. Just seems strange to me.

  25. Lady Di Tn,

    I totally agree with you about behavior of people who reached the top.

    As to the millionaire, he made a mistake from the very beginning as it appeared sponsorship did not assure a lasting tribute to the memory of his brave wife.

  26. Kathy,

    Sad indeed, any way one looks at it. It's also strange, but no one can know what exactly goes on in someone else's mind.