By Phil Stoler

Nick Kyrgios won Acapulco this weekend (and with it, a sombrero, a bizarre pear (avocado?) shaped trophy, and $367,630).

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Kyrgios, presumably berating the author after reading this post

It’s Nick Kyrgios, and therefore, he’s rammed down our throats by media, professional and quasi-professional writers, and fans. More than your average player who’s won 5 tournaments in a 5 year career, none of them higher than a 500.

One reaction to this is the refrain amongst people that don’t like Nick that “he’s a bad guy.” I’m one of those people. His defenders in turn, have a number of responses.

  • He does good things too, how could…

It’s becoming increasingly encumbering to not be able to read Czech.

I’m faced with a choice, but even within that choice knowing Czech is advantageous.

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That choice, if we want to call it that, is either to fly to Czechia and go visit Doubravice and Brno and thereabouts, or to learn Czech and be able to read enough historical and current documents, blogs, photo albums, etc., to have a better understanding of what the area looks like. I’m not even sure that the modern village of Doubravice would give me exactly what I’m looking for anyway, and it seems unlikely…

History becomes dangerous once you start ascribing meaning to it. I don’t mean that in the sense that we can’t interpret history — I’ve wasted my life if that’s the case — but we get in trouble when we start thinking that because something happened in a certain way that it was meant to happen that way. I’m afraid we have to go back to England, if only briefly.

So I’ve been asking myself with some frequency why I’m so interested in being Czech, given that I’m, first, Canadian, and, second, ethnically more English than Czech. One part of it…

When I was in grade 3, I think, I was assigned to do some kind of family history. It probably had something to do with all four of my grandparents, and not just my namesake ones, but I can’t recall what I wrote for the other ones. There was a time that I probably did know that my Powell great grandmother had been born in the US, that my Swedish grandmother had also been born in the US, and other such details. It’s even possible that I’ve gone through cycles of remembering and then forgetting this information. But one thing…

I’m not Czech.

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The North Fork Maquoketa river in Cascade, Iowa

In fact, of all the people in my family who live in Canada, only my father’s aunt, a woman in her mid-seventies at this point, would count among the (according to 2016 Canadian census data) 23,250 people in this country of over 34 million who can claim Czech as their “single ethnic origin.” Since we’re talking numbers, that’s 0.067% of the Canadian population, or less than one tenth of a percent. …

Matt Kriz

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