Monday, May 4, 2009

Anna Kournikova Needs My Help

When I'm entrenched in a conversation regarding Anna Kournikova, I often find myself commenting on her breasts. And by "often find myself," I mean every time I've ever had a conversation about Anna Kournikova. I suppose this is because I'm heterosexual. But anyway, the conversation never stops there.

Being a maniacal sports fan, I need to voice my opinion of Anna Kournikova's athletic achievements.

And I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm about to pile on Kournikova. You're thinking I'm going to call her a lousy tennis player, mentioning how she never won anything. You're thinking I'm going call her a media creation that never earned anything with her ability.

And you're going to call her overrated.

But you're wrong, friend. You're wrong. Not only is Kournikova not overrated, she's the most underrated athlete in the history of underrated athletes. And really, I'm not sure she has any competition.

Consider the following four pieces of information:

1. She *earned* over $3.5 million in her brief professional career. Tennis doesn't hand out cash for having nice legs and pretty teeth, tennis pays its players for advancing deep into tournaments. So, while it's true she didn't win any of these tournaments as a singles player, she was successful enough to become a millionaire several times over.

2. She was once ranked No. 8 in the world. Remember, tennis isn't like college football, where preseason rankings are based solely on talent and potential; the only way to climb the tennis rankings is to win a high percentage of your matches. Ask yourself: Have you ever been among the top eight people in the world in your chosen profession or hobby? Probably not. No wait, definitely not. I mean, I once claimed to be the best NHL 94 (Sega Genesis version) player on the planet, but that's highly unlikely; in fact, I might not have cracked the top 9000. I also used to assume that I knew more about the life of Nick Van Exel than other Van Exel enthusiasts, but recent developments have led me to believe otherwise. With tennis, however, we know for sure: Anna Kournikova was once the eighth ranked player in the world, and she got there because she was great.

3. Kournikova was a dominant doubles player. She once held the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings and twice won Grand Slam titles.

4. I'd chop off most of my fingers just to touch her butt for nine consecutive seconds.


A few years ago I stumbled upon a television series on ESPN Classic called Who's Number One? Perhaps you remember it for being unwatchable. And anyway, this particular night they happened to focus on the most overrated athletes of all time. Inevitably, Kournikova held the top spot. Inevitably, I threw my pet turtle down the steps (R.I.P. Darren).

Look, I'm not saying the lady had a memorable on-court career, but she wasn't overrated. You want overrated? I could throw names like Eddie George and Vince Coleman at you, but let's focus on Joe Namath. Ask any Jets fan and they'll tell you, Namath was the most super of all superstars. But look at the numbers: The guy only completed fifty percent of his passes and threw nearly fifty more interceptions than touchdowns over the course of his 12-year career. Those numbers don't just suggest he wasn't as great as he's remembered, they suggest he was an awful quarterback.

Joe Namath wasn't all that good, and yet he's considered one of the all-time greats. That, to me, is the definition of overrated.

Kournikova, on the other hand, is remembered as being the joke of the tennis profession despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In other words, she's wildly underrated.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think I've just done some convincing.


And if you were wondering why I decided to spend a few hundred words defending a barely-relevant Russian sex goddess, all I can tell you is there's a hot new rumor in town, and it goes something like this: Anna Kournikova has a computer, and on her computer is the Internet. So, what if -- like all narcissists do countless times every day -- she Googles her name and finds this story? See where I'm going? Sure, she might get a restraining order slapped on me, but maybe she'll request that I take my clothes off in front of her.

A boy can dream, right?

-Brad Spieser (