I’m sure it’s tough being a professional athlete, although I’ve never had the experience myself. Rigorous training and competing, travel, and a small window of opportunity given the human body’s tendency to slow down with years all contribute to the lifestyle. Of course on the other hand professional athletes are getting paid to do what many people pay to do.
Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard has much going for her. Aside from being the Women’s Tennis Association’s world number seven ranked player, she is young, attractive, and photogenic, if prone to the selfie. She rose to her current position quickly, but seems to have stalled lately. I’m not in any position to comment on the quality of her game, given my toughest tennis opponent was the wall of the school up the street (yet I hasten to add that this wall is still taking on all comers, and remains undefeated). But when it comes to common basic good manners I’ve got a bone to pick with Ms. Bouchard.
She agreed to represent Canada against Romania in this past weekend’s Fed Cup competition here in Montreal, her hometown, something she had avoided before. At some point prior to Fed Cup ties as they are called, opponents pose for photographs standing on either side of a poster detailing the match. Standard promotional shots are taken, including the players shaking hands and wishing each other luck. Well, perhaps not.
It seems Ms. Bouchard refuses to shake hands with any opponent before a match. Win or lose she’ll press the flesh afterward, but not before. She left the Romanian player Alexandra Dulgheru standing there with her hand extended. It is my opinion that she should not have opted to forgo the handshake, but if that is her modus operandi, she should have made it known before the awkward photo op.
While representing her country – and mine – Ms. Bouchard’s refusal to take part in something that professional athletes the world over do as a matter of routine, from UEFA Cup soccer teams to NFL football teams (as represented by team captains at the coin toss), reflects poorly on all Canadians.
I do hope that Ms. Bouchard will continue to develop as a player and eventually a champion. I also hope she will grow as a person and understand the concept of basic civility as portrayed by a handshake. By the way, she lost to a Romanian player ranked 103rd. Karma?