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« Group Characteristics 1 | Main | Group Characteristics 3 »

September 01, 2005

Group Characteristics 2

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Tracy Austin, providing commentary at the U.S. Tennis Open, took note of a number of injured yet persistent Russian tennis players and marveled: "These Russians, they can play with a lot of pain."

Tatyana, Alexei: Anything to this? Fair? Unfair?



posted by Michael at September 1, 2005


Absolutely. I'm hurting right now.

Posted by: Tatyana on September 1, 2005 11:48 AM

Read enough Russian literature and one is left with the unescapable conclusion that pain is the Russian condition.

Not to mention the slipped discs caused by hauling around all those insanely long books...

Posted by: Frankenstein on September 1, 2005 04:28 PM

Paul, you're hanging out with the wrong Russians.

Posted by: Tatyana on September 1, 2005 04:41 PM

Maybe it's not so much that Russian tennis players and other athletes are willing to play through pain, but that American athletes have an excessive aversion to doing so.

Posted by: Peter on September 1, 2005 08:57 PM

I think the general idea is that, for the Russian players, this is their one chance ever of making it big. If they fail at tennis, it's back to poverty. So they're hungry and eager. But, who knows, maybe they're stoic genetically primed to overcome pain too ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 1, 2005 09:31 PM


Posted by: Frankenstein on September 1, 2005 10:45 PM

OK, Paul, only for you (and for your very nice friend Jennifer, and for Ken if he wishes), and only in appreciation of past blogger bashes (although that Siberia was abhorrent) - here are 2 sites that cater for the young New York Russian-American crowd and always list upcoming hot events: and

Trust me, it's never gloomy or painful (unless that's what you're looking for)

Posted by: Tatyana on September 2, 2005 09:22 AM

For instance (sorry for double-posting): Barbez on Sept. 10.

Posted by: Tatyana on September 2, 2005 09:45 AM

I went to both those sites and did not see any bears

Posted by: reve on September 2, 2005 10:53 AM

If the Russians are such tough guys how come their idea of the greatest single pleasure obtainable on earth is to spend a week in the Crimea in their pajamas, huh?

Posted by: ricpic on September 2, 2005 05:44 PM

Rick, apparently, other nationals subscribe to this idea, too.

Posted by: Tatyana on September 2, 2005 06:49 PM

Russian tennis players, you mean? The males seem as whiney as everybody else. The ladies must be a bit tougher. But at a certain level, one can afford to take extra care of one's health: once you've won a few tournaments, earned a few hundred thousand bucks and a modest reputation, there's no fear of slipping back into (relative) poverty. You can buy a house and make a living as a coach. Most Russian players you get to notice fit into that group. It's not really fear of poverty that drives them (most probably come from middle-class families anyway, except Kafelnikov and Sharapova), more the enormous investment they have been to their parents, plus their own ambition. Having made his first $5 or $10 million, did Kafelnikov really need to play at every thinkable tournament to earn 5 or 10 more? Go figure.

BTW, well-paid Russian soccer players are as squeamish about injuries as their European colleagues. Their health has appreciated enough as an asset to make them care about its condition. Note I'm talking about men.

As for pain as a cultural concept, it's sometimes hard to explain it (even if it's non-existent and there's nothing to explain) to people who find nothing wrong with living on painkillers -- for the brain and body alike.

Posted by: Alexei on September 7, 2005 02:50 AM

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