The fist pump

safinaI don’t know who started it, but it was probably Nick Bollettieri.  I see almost every pro tennis player doing it after almost every shot.  Maria Sharapova does it after every shot, with different degrees of intensity, sometimes several times, even between the towel-off and the ball request.  Tiger brought it into mainstream golf, which will inevitably make it acceptable for junior golfers to do.  Maybe already has.

The problem I have with it is that in golf, it’s a reaction to something the player has done well.  In tennis, not so much.  Seems that tennis players do it also out of excitement over their opponents’ mistakes.  Imagine that happening in golf.  Your fellow competitor hits it out of bounds.  What do you do?  What would Ben Crenshaw do?  Now think of what Dinara Safina would do.

No matter what, it’s me, me, me in tennis, with little or no respect for the opposition (unless a net cord goes your way, in which case you hold up your racquet in the traditional contrived apologetic fashion).  There are some exceptions, sure, like in doubles.  Mostly because there are very few unforced errors in doubles.  Those guys are that quick, that good, and there are way more winners and forced errors than anything else.  There’s simply no room for the unsportsmanlike fist pump.

As you watch the Australian Open this week, think of each fist pump as another little bit of rust, eroding the foundation of a game created and built by ladies and gentlemen.  I wonder how long it’ll be before golf finds itself in the same place.  Maybe it’s already there.

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