Emotional investment brings sport to life

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 26/01/2013

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OPINION: Give me some emotion in sport.

In these days of carefully orchestrated media releases, dull press conferences and rolling cliches, it is still good to see a fist pump, broken racket or some banter.

A fortnight ago, I watched as South Canterbury batsman Ritchie Preston was given out leg-before wicket when he hit the ball after an innings of 105.

His five-hour vigil was ended by an umpiring decision that I believed was wrong. It was the turning point of the Hawke Cup match against Southland and allowed the visitors to claim a first innings win.

When Preston was dismissed he did not walk straight off as you are supposed to under "the spirit of the game", he showed his frustration by standing and waving his bat suggestively at the offending umpire, and probably had a word or two to say as well.

His reaction annoyed some stalwarts of the game who were watching, but Preston's frustration seemed justified.

If you work hard over a long period of time and then get a tough decision, with the match in the balance, you can't ask someone who is emotionally bound up in a situation to calmly walk off.

Let him show his frustration, as long as it doesn't cross the line into abuse.

Officials aren't immune to making bad decisions, it is human nature for it to happen. But any decision always has a reaction.

Shane Warne's antics in the Australian Big Bash competition were childish, but funny to watch. It was entertaining.

When Serena Williams smashed her racket during her quarterfinal exit to Sloane Stephens in the Australian Open, viewers got more of an insight into her mood than any press conference could have given.

The reactions of contestants when they are under pressure are a major reason why sport is so thrilling.

Lleyton Hewitt's first pump and shout of "come on" does the same thing.

Equally, a lack of emotion can also give an insight. Swiss tennis player Roger Federer rarely has outbursts of emotion on the court, regardless of the match situation.

His lack of antics shows how zoned-in he is on a tennis court, and it is a part of what has made him a champion.

Sportspeople are not robots and regardless of the level they play, they should be allowed to show emotion freely, as long as it remains respectful.

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- The Timaru Herald

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