Professional sport, like life itself, is full of wells in which one puts one's foot and immediately meets the water around the neck, struggling to survive. The road to glory is often uneven and treacherous, hence no big names are exempt from danger, quite the contrary. The high expectations, the level of self-demand, the rush or simply the weight of a shirt-even the amount of a juicy contract-are capable of wreaking havoc among the most distinguished members of the elites, those who only see the defeat as a painful prelude to withdrawal.
In a well of injuries, personal problems and distrust was Tiger Woods just a few months ago, he who had been considered America's boyfriend. Messi also seems drowned when the azulgrana changes for the albiceleste, main target on which to discharge the frustration of a whole country while Maradona, a god closed for life in its own hole, scrutinizes it, points and degrades to the level of simple mortal with every stumble The well is also the knees of Rafa Nadal, the indomitable character of Serena Williams and Jordan Spieth, the solitude of Bojan Krkic, the dispersion of Garbiñe Muguruza and even the apparent simplicity with which Simon Biles executes the impossible because it does not exist, you know , load heavier than exceptionality. Also age is a well; sometimes due to lack of maturity, others due to excess gray hair.
"We created a monster, René," wrote the Brazilian journalist Leandro Pereira to refer to Neymar Jr.'s childhood behavior during the last World Cup in Russia. In his newspaper column, Lance referred to René Simoes, that Atlético Clube Goianiense coach who, in 2010, alerted Brazilian football to the tragedy of his new star's infantile behavior. On the other side of the coin we find the boxer who starts to look older when he gets into the ring and we discover a shiny crown on his head. "It's hard to be interested in your own shadow for more than twenty years," anticipated A.J. Liebling of Joe Louis days before seeing him fall defeated, destroyed by a young boxer of Italian origin who responded to the name of Rocky Marciano. The wells can hide behind a mountain of dead leaves but also enclose roots that will never go back.
The fan, as a devourer of myths, is also part of that well in which every little time we see one of our heroes submerge. I thought about it the other day seeing the whistles of the Santiago Bernabéu to Sergio Ramos and the little patience of my father with Ousmane Dembélé. One seems to demand that he become the new Dorian Gray while the other is required to behave like a war veteran. I remembered, then, a certain scene in which a child dreams of his mother, killed during the war, who returns to his side to teach him that also in the deepest wells a star can always be seen. In the specific case of professional athletes, it would be advisable to do more than look.