When I was a kid and John McEnroe was winning Wimbledon, he appeared on a television commercial in Australia plugging the company “Electronic Sales and Rentals”. My memory is shaky here, but I believe these ads involved Joe Hasham from NUMBER 96. SuperBrat’s performance was wooden and embarrassing. His lines exhorted potential customers to trade goods for rentals (hmm it’s starting to sound like Cash Converters). He assured us that you could trade anything “even an old worn out tennis racket, if you want.”
I have repeated this line, to my brother, ad nauseum for the last two decades. The deadness of the delivery, exaggerated by the years, never ceases to amuse me, at least. This old commercial is ripe for a clever archivist to locate and upload to YouTube.
I am overly “McEnroe’d” currently, because I have seen him in unexpected parts of the media over the last couple of weeks.
He played himself as a tennis commentator in the 2004 Rom-Com WIMBLEDON. He was played himself as the host of a game show called “Gold Case” in a season one episode of 30 ROCK. And then, the piece de resistance; McEnroe played himself and a man who was impersonating him on an episode of CSI: NEW YORK.
There was a fantastic scene where the real McEnroe watches his impersonator in the interrogation room. McEnroe was okay. Which is to say he had moved on from his days of schilling rental VCRs. But he was still nothing like an actor.
Which athletes have successfully made the transition to acting? Bruce Jenner? Meh. I checked out a list of Top 10 Athletes turned Actors at sportsgrumblings. They identified Vinnie Jones, Shaquille O’Neil, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and O.J. Simpson among the 10. It’s noteworthy that none of these men seems entirely relaxed and expressive in front of a camera.
Fame opens doors and when your sporting days are over it must feel like a fun and relatively simple thing to step into the world of music, writing or acting. Your fame as an athlete obviously gives you a ‘leg-up’ that ordinary people don’t have. However all of these disciplines require years of practice and dedication to do them skilfully. So when an athlete embarks upon an acting career there is a certain amount of catching up required.
McEnroe has had other acting gigs (usually playing himself) and has attempted game show and talk show hosting. I wonder why one who has excelled in a sport might choose to do an average job at something else so publicly. This goes for all athletes who want to act.
If one is average in say, house painting or finance, then only your co-workers and colleagues need know about your so-so skill level. Why be average at something the entire planet can see online or buy on DVD? It’s a mystery.
Elevate the Insignificant