Has the gentleman side of sports disappeared?

Matt Tidcombe - Sports culture (Tom Bateman/AQ)

There’s nothing like a good “get in the hole” bellow from a fan when a golfer hits his 35 foot putt for par. I often find myself asking, “What’s happened to the gentleman side of these sports?” when I watch golf and tennis.

The idiocy of the fans, as well as the players, makes me question if the gentleman side of sports has begun to disappear. But, on the other hand, both these sports still show the strong tendencies that made them gentleman-like sports in the first place.

Let’s start with golf. The “get in the hole” shout has to be the most over-used catchphrase in sports. But the more you think about it, the more you realize how obscure it is.

The part that gets me the most about it is when a fan shouts “get in the hole” when the player is standing on the tee on a par 5, 550 yard hole.

Seriously, how is he going to get it in the hole from 550 yards away? There’s a reason you’re in the gallery, pal and you’re proving it with your lunatic outbursts.

And then we have fans throwing hot-dogs at players after being inspired to do so by a movie. Really? A movie inspired you to throw a hot-dog at Tiger Woods?

Then there is tennis – more specifically women’s tennis. I’m at the stage now where I rarely watch women’s tennis because I have better things to do with my time than listen to two women compete over who can shriek the loudest.

Also, since when did tennis become a game of who can cause more destruction to their racket?

I must admit though, one thing that made me smile every time was seeing Marat Safin absolutely annihilate his racket when he makes a mistake. If you’re going to destroy your racket, you may as well do it with style – and that he did.

Just don’t do it the way Mikhail Youzhny once did in Toronto; it has to be an unwritten law not to use your own forehead as the destruction point.

Yet despite the above gentleman flaws, these sports do still remain rooted in their gentleman aspects. No matter what happened on the course or court, you’ll see the participants shake hands at the end of the game.

And to add some more gentleman feel to it, they even remove their caps in the process – well most of them do – yes, Andy Roddick, I’m looking at you.

Golfers will admit their mistakes, such as nudging their ball when addressing it. Or how about when a player calls a penalty on himself after the wind blows the ball as he addresses it, which ultimately cost them a tournament, as happened to Webb Simpson earlier this year. And if you’re playing partner doesn’t see you take a shot, you’ll have the courtesy to let them know that they need to add a shot to your score.

Tennis tends to somewhat maintain its gentleman side as well. Whether it’s the courtesy to wait for your opponent to be ready to receive a serve or the small hand apology you give when you hit a shot that bounces off the net for a winner, tennis demonstrates that it too belongs in the gentleman realm of sports.

It’s safe to say that tennis and golf have been polluted by non-gentleman aspects, but their roots still revolve around the gentleman side of things. It’s just always a question of which way they’ll tip next.

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