By Bethsheba Achitsa.
Published September 25, 2009
Serena Williams, Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor and Roger Federer are top notch international sports personalities who have in the recent past shocked the world by their uncouth behaviour in the sports arena. A top-ranked tennis player, Serena Williams, in a moment of rage cursed the judge and shocked the world. But before the tennis world could recover from the shock of Williams’ outburst on September 12, 2009, Federer, also a top seeded tennis player, pulled a similar tantrum two days later in the US Open finals against Juan Martin Del Potro.
Indiscipline has over the last one week weighed down sports extending in to the world of football where Manchester City’s Emmanuel Adebayor’s misconduct subjected him to an improper conduct charge for his goal celebration in front of the Arsenal supporters during the September 12 match. Many may find Adebayor’s behaviour as no surprise, but his behaviour together with that of Williams and Federer in these matches are examples of bad sportsmanship.
In the match against Arsenal, Adebayor was found guilty of violent conduct and handed a three-match ban, after former team-mate Van Persie accused him of deliberately kicking him in the face with his boots. The 25 year-old striker is also criticised for running almost the full length of the pitch to the Arsenal supporters and celebrating in front of them after scoring his goal causing an attempted pitch invasion and objects to be thrown towards him on the pitch.
And while expressing no regrets for her behaviour on the court during the press conference where she was meant to apologise, Serena Williams felt that she was like any other sportswoman and that her behaviour during the match against Kim Clijsters was expected. But her act of angrily shouting at the umpire and racquet abuse is uncalled-for; it was a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Whether it is just pride that had overcome her that day or it was tension, her belief that since she had not foot faulted in the last matches does not give her the confidence to say that she does not foot fault any more. Having lost to Clijsters and with a US$10,500 fine to pay, one can only hope that Williams together with other sports people learn from this experience.
While many may be disgusted at the behavior of Williams, the seriousness with which both she and Federer were charged with regarding their misconduct is nevertheless deemed as hypocritical and gender biased. Federer, who lost in the five sets to the Argentinean, is said to have directed his vulgarity at his opponent, which is a serious breach of etiquette in tennis. His flare-up was downplayed and even after the match there were no press conference apologies from Federer and he was fined a measly US$1500 compared to the whopping US$10000 fine that was slapped on Williams.
If loss of control is what can be used to term Federer’s behaviour, it is without question that Williams lost control as well. Both Williams and Federer were wrong, but one wonders if hypocrisy is an accepted fact as witnessed in treatment accorded to the two. If Serena were a man could her behaviour have been met by similar outrage?
With more than US$31,000 in fines handed out in the final grand slam of the season with Daniel Nestor, from Canada, also forced to pay $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct towards a fan he confronted, Vera Zvonareva of Russia and Austria’s Daniel Koellerer also fined $1,500 for audible obscenities it is obvious that sports personalities are behaving badly. And that misbehaving during sports events is not something that began with Serena, Federer and Adebayor.
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The rate at which they are occurring is however alarming. Kenyans particularly are not new to football chaos after matches. As if it is tradition some of the football clubs after losing their matches resort to violent acts as the only way to vent out their frustration for their failure to score goals. Unless sports authorities take serious measures against acts as those exhibited by Adebayor when it comes to football, fans will soon take cue from such idols.