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The Year of the G.O.A.T., or CAT?!

Wow, what a time for sports fans! Between the Australian Open in tennis, the football playoffs, and college basketball, there was a lot of action for the sports junkie this weekend.

And the Olympics start later this week, controversial as they may be with the political discord between the US and China. Highlighting the sporting news stories was Tom Brady. You may not like him, but many consider Tom Brady the G.O.A.T. (the greatest of all time) of football.

And the news went wild when the story broke on Saturday that he was retiring. Then, on Sunday, Rafa Nadal won the Australian Open, making him possibly the G.O.A.T. in the tennis world as he surpassed the grand slam wins of Federer and Djokovic.

You may disagree that Tom Brady and Rafa Nadal are the G.O.A.T.'s in their respective sports, but you have to at least admit that they are unbelievable athletes and competitors.

Their successes exemplify the rewards of extremely hard work, perseverance and grit. One of the announcers (John McEnroe) for the men's tennis final yesterday explained that hard work is something we preach to our children or junior players, but that a drive like that possessed by the G.O.A.T.'s is something innate, and cannot be taught.

Just when you count them out, they are able to seize the win because of their drive and determination. How many really thought that Tom Brady could bring a Super Bowl title to Tampa Bay? And when Rafa Nadal, at the age of 35, was down 2 sets to love against a champion 10 years his junior, the announcers were writing him off, but not so fast.

Medvedev fought until the bitter end, and I give him a lot of credit since the entire stadium seemed to be cheering for Nadal.

Tennis, unlike football, can be such a lonely sport since you are out there alone in the spotlight, solely responsible for every stroke of brilliance or weakness. When people have asked me about my own daughter's tennis endeavors, I have remarked that I love tennis since a tennis match mimics life's lessons, from the "agony of defeat" to the exhilaration of the win.

Sports in general are a microcosm of life. An athlete's career is full of highs and lows, luck and unluckiness. While most of us will never know what it is to be the best in our field, or be ranked number one, it does not mean that we should ever stop trying.

And for as much as tennis is an individual sport, each of the players gave thanks to their support team in the post-match interviews yesterday and emphasized their gratitude for the support their team provided during those low points. Another comment made by Medvedev in his post-match interview struck me about the humility necessary to be a champion.

Admittedly, champions possess a necessary self belief which can be viewed as arrogance. But while thanking his team, Medvedev also made a commitment to his team to "do better" next time. No matter how good we may think we are at something, we can always be or do better.

The importance of a village or a support network is applicable to all of us. That's why Covid has been so destructive, beyond the pneumonias and cardiopulmonary complications caused by the virus. The loneliness and isolation created by the lockdowns, mask wearing, and quarantines have taken and continue to take their toll.

Fortunately, people worldwide seem to be aware of this; it was wonderful to see the packed stadium in Australia, and the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd. Maybe a return to normalcy is truly coming, despite reports over the weekend that the next Covid variant, called Stealth Omicron, has emerged.

This normalcy will involve an acceptance that Covid is here to stay, but we are learning to adapt to its existence. I hate the term "new normal." I like to use the word "adaptation," instead. I was struck, though, by the ironies of seeing huge crowds and the fact that Novac Djokovic was deported and banned from playing in the Australian Open.

I have mentioned this news story in prior blogs, and the story continues to get more strange. I saw a BBC report yesterday that suggested that there may be something irregular in Novac's test results

The Covid test serial numbers seem to be out of sequence, as his second, positive test (the one that was used to justify his exemption from vaccination), actually had a lower serial number that one taken earlier, which was negative. Very strange indeed. I suspect that forgeries of test results and vaccine cards will become more and more prevalent as people try to circumvent the rules in place for Covid.

In fact, a recent tournament my daughter played in required an electronic submission of her Covid test results from the testing facility; paper copies were not accepted, and I'm assuming the reason was to prevent forgeries.

Sadly, I guess it's human nature to circumvent the rules, but it is not surprising, especially when the rules do not seem to make sense or are inconsistent.

Regardless of whether you think Novak should or should not have been allowed to play, players at these pro tournaments are typically tested frequently to ensure their health, yet thousands of unmasked fans watched the tournament.

I hope everyone has a great week.

I have titled this blog, "the year of the G.O.A.T.", so I have chosen the song "Year of the Cat" in keeping with this theme for my "song of the day." The link and lyrics are listed below.

The song is a classic by Al Stewart from 1976. The song also seems apropos given the fact that like the seventies, we are facing high inflation, rising gas prices, food shortages, and international turmoil.

But I hate to end my blog on a downer note so here's a little upbeat fact. I have to take Al Stewart's word on this, but the year of the cat is also known as the year of the rabbit according to Vietnamese astrology (not my area of expertise), and the year of the rabbit is supposed to be a year free of stress.

Wouldn't that be great? Here's hoping better times are coming soon. After the flurries and frigid temps this weekend, at least the weather looks like it will be warmer. And Valentine's Day is right around the corner.

Keep a look out for a tantalizing special or two!

Dr. Heidi Williams

Lyrics On a morning from a Bogart movie In a country where they turn back time You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre Contemplating a crime She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running Like a watercolor in the rain Don't bother asking for explanations She'll just tell you that she came In the year of the cat She doesn't give you time for questions As she locks up your arm in hers And you follow 'till your sense of which direction Completely disappears By the blue tiled walls near the market stalls There's a hidden door she leads you to These days, she says, I feel my life Just like a river running through The year of the cat While she looks at you so cooly And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea She comes in incense and patchouli So you take her, to find what's waiting inside The year of the cat Well morning comes and you're still with her And the bus and the tourists are gone And you've thrown away your choice you've lost your ticket So you have to stay on But the drum-beat strains of the night remain In the rhythm of the newborn day You know sometime you're bound to leave her But for now you're going to stay In the year of the cat

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