Antics in athletics
WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde (The Freeman) - July 9, 2020 - 12:00am

One of a few good things about quarantine is watching replay of tennis grand slam classics. Earlier this week, Fox Sports showed the 2004 Wimbledon women’s singles final where a young Maria Sharapova stunned then world number one Serena Williams in straight sets.

Conspicuously, Sharapova was quiet the entire time except for a grunt or two when push came to shove. I don’t know when she started yelping ear-splitting decibels each time she hits the ball. It may have worked for her, screaming en route to four more slams until she was muted by suspension for banned substance and eventual retirement.   

Star athletes develop antics, some cute or funny, others baffling or annoying. Make no mistake, Rafael Nadal meticulously arranges his water bottles every changeover. His service rituals cost him crucial points for exceeding time, adjusting the fabric in his behind, most notably. But Mary Pierce had more dramatic service habits. She fixes hair, bounces ball, blows her fingers and gazes at the other player. Yes lady, your opponent is still across the net, but fell asleep.

Roger Federer is all class, but cries like a baby, win or lose. Patrick Rafter wipes away his forehead sweat with the ball, raising trivial concern the ball weighs heavier. Goran Ivanisevic, the only wild card to have won Wimbledon, spits on the pristine green grass. But Andre Agassi does it worse, spitting and blowing his nose. And Novak Djokovic chews some center court grass to celebrate his championship. Could he have picked the flavored part? No, he didn’t play either of them. 

Thankfully, others dropped their annoying habits like Andy Murray who flexed his bicep after winning a match. We know you won, don’t rub it in. When Novak Djokovic warned of his impending rise, he bounced the ball longer than necessary before tossing it. He has cut it down since, must have realized he plays tennis, not basketball.

Manny Pacquiao grins from the dugout to the ring. Not much of an antic, but the mom sure got some. Mike Tyson did the unthinkable when he chunked off the ear of Evander Holyfield in their infamous bite fight. Twice, not below the belt anyway. Michael Jordan sticks and hangs his tongue out as he drives to the hoop. But it didn’t bother anyone, it is Michael Jordan, except his foray into baseball. Even the greatest should stick to one. You can’t have both, much less be both. See what happens when some entertainers become legislators, worse, when few lawmakers turn comedians.

Usain Bolt tries hardest to be funny by goofing around and making faces before and after his race. I miss Carl Lewis, he was more becoming and authentic. Victoria Azarenka enters a match wearing headphones. Even if you don’t hear the music, you can tell her swag is not in sync.

 Spare the fans of such visual mistreat. Sport is where you’re good at, stick to it. Grace is a gift. Just like diction or wit. It’s either you have it or you don’t. There may be a middle ground, but to mediocrity it is bound. Just as when you’re not funny, don’t try to be. If you can’t pull it off, don’t crack a joke, otherwise you become the pathetic joke. Ugh, I just did. Sorry.

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