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Littlefield: The Sole Of The Sport

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Melanie Oudin, in her signature shoes, pauses during her match against Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York on Wednesday.
Melanie Oudin, in her signature shoes, pauses during her match against Caroline Wozniacki, of Denmark, at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York on Wednesday.

The big story of this year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament has been Melanie Oudin. The 17-year-old from Georgia upset several top-seeded players before losing in Wednesday night's quarter finals. According to WBUR's sports commentator, such athletic success is tied up in the shoes.

Our athletes shill for clothing makers, and they shill for banks
They shill as well for companies that make gas-guzzling tanks,
And off they go behind the wheels of guzzlers that they like
Perhaps a greener athlete might one day endorse a bike.

The better-known the athlete, well, the greater is the take,
For companies providing all the products have a stake
In teaching you to understand their sneakers-clothe winner
But this week, selling’s spotlight has lit up a mere beginner.

Before the U.S. Open started, would you say that you
Had lacked a sense of tennis fashion if you lacked a shoe
That featured pink and yellow as the colors on the side,
And said “Believe” across the back? Well, if you have replied

That, yes, you would have felt bereft and barefoot and deprived,
If you did not have just that shoe you wouldn’t have survived,
Then you’ve been way ahead of advertising’s latest curve
Hooray for you, and your imagination, and the nerve

That had you wearing pink and yellow on your tennis shoe
And telling people in your wake that you “believe.” It’s true
That now the shoe in question is available to all
Who have a hundred forty bucks for sneakers. If you fall

Into that demographic, you can own the very kicks
That Melanie Oudin’s been wearing. If Adidas tricks
Enough young sneaker buyers into parting with their cash
For Barricade V Unisexes, would it be too rash

To then assume that Melanie would take her place beside
The Tigers and the Michaels who have long enjoyed the ride
Upon the gravy train our games provide their most esteemed?
That she could make more selling sneakers than she’d ever dreamed?

And would it be absurd if all those Russians thought the hexes
Would fade if they just donned some Barricade V Unisexes?
That, shod in same, they might have made it past young Melanie?
Will they show up next tournament in her shoes? Well, we’ll see.

And meanwhile, having mentioned them, I look to score a pair:
Adidas, make mine plain white, please. Adidas, are you there?


Bill Littlefield comments on sports for WBUR and hosts "Only A Game" each Saturday at 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

This program aired on September 10, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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