Andre Agassi talked to us this morning, and while I generally have little or no interest in what memoir-hawking celebrities have to say, he talked about something that surprised me. Yes, his life story is all about his tough father and the agony of being a tennis prodigy urged on by an ambitious parent. He told a great story about how his dad put 9-year-old Andre up to a game against sports legend Jim Brown years ago on a ten thousand dollar bet, the family’s life savings.
I asked Agassi whether the frustration over his own life has parallels with grown up golf prodigy Tiger Wood’s current struggles. Agassi guardedly said that he understood how living in a bubble created by stardom can lead to bad choices. Then a few moments later, while talking about the boarding school he created in his hometown of Las Vegas, he said that the most important thing in life is choices. “Education is about choices,” Andre Agassi told us and he openly wished he had made more conscious choices in his own life. It made me think about my goals as a parent.
This idea of choices, how to make them, and understanding that choosing one paths means other roads will not be taken and that there may be no going back to what has been passed by, was a deep insight. Anyone who has ever felt a thrill from playing or watching tennis has dreamed of being where Agassi has been: one of the greatest players of all time. In just a single remark though, Andre conveyed that his experience as a legendary athlete will always be devalued by the reality that his tennis career signified his father’s choice, not little Andre’s, back when he was blowing people away with his forehand and drop shots.
I think that Andre Agassi doesn’t really hate tennis, as he’s been saying in his media interviews. He just hates the fact that he didn’t choose it.