I follow professional sports pretty religiously; my morning drive is filled with ESPN, scouting reports, etc. I know a lot of shooters don’t follow sports, so this particular post may be a bit of a long road for some, but bear with me. This weekend at the US Open, Serena Williams, one of the top competitors and the favorite to win had an utter professional meltdown. In so doing she betrayed herself to be nothing more than a classless thug with a child’s temper; making a mockery of the definitions of sportsmanship and character. If you click the link, you’ll be taken to a Sports Illustrated article which also includes a link to a Youtube video of the incident. Here’s a short summary: Serena smashed her racket, and was assesed a penalty for poor sportsmanship (good for the US Open) after losing the first set. In the second set, she was given a foot fault penalty on a serve, which caused her to completely lose her mind and scream at the line judge “I’m f***ing taking this ball and shoving it down your f***ing throat“. Super classy, right? So she was penalized again, and because it was a point penalty on match point, she lost the match. All because of poor sportsmanship and a lack of character.
I told that story so I could tell you a different story, but a related one. I shot the Tri-State Regional this past weekend, an excellent IDPA Match down in Tennessee. During this match I saw shooters penalized for things they should have been penalized for, and for things that didn’t necessarily warrant penalties. Never once did I see a shooter, an athlete say to a Safety Officer that they were going to “shove a gun down someone’s f***ing throat”. Oh sure there was grousing and complaining – people are people after all, but ultimately the shooters accepted their fate and moved on with the match. No smashing gear, no screaming fits, and no childish outbursts.
After the match, Serena Williams issued a non-apology, saying essentially that she didn’t remember her screaming fit and would never threaten someone (despite it being on tape).
After the pistol match, some shooters groused about their penalities (myself included) but mostly the attitude was light and fun. If anyone was really upset, they simply left the match and didn’t cause a scene. Quite the contrast to the alleged “role model athlete” that occupies a national spotlight. Perhaps an armed society is a more polite society after all.