Commentary: A smashingly bad example

After Shahar Pe'er, Dudi Sela "treats" crowds to some more totally unsportsmanlike behavior.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
It's hard to root for a bad loser. Israel's No. 1 tennis player, Dudi Sela, exhibited poor sportsmanship in his Davis Cup match against Sweden's Thomas Johansson yesterday when he smashed his racket onto the court in anger, destroying it, after losing the second game in the second set. And instead of condemning such unbecoming behavior, the two Hebrew commentators on Sport5 seemed to condone it. "Maybe he needs to vent his frustration," said one. "Maybe it'll improve his game." "How much do you think that racket cost?" asked the other, flippantly. "Oh, I'm sure he gets rackets for free," came the reply. Even Moshik, who was ousted from the hit TV series "Survivor" on Saturday night after portraying himself as a man of integrity, voiced unconditional support for Sela in a television interview during a break just after the incident. "He's a real winner," Moshik said. As it happened, even though his game improved somewhat in the third set, Sela ended up losing, and he turned out to be a bad loser. After the match, when he refused to be interviewed on TV, former Israeli tennis star Amos Mansdorf commented that "Dudi doesn't like to lose." Thankfully, most Israeli children were at school during the live broadcast of the racket smashing early in the afternoon. It was not exemplary conduct for the next generation of tennis players. Sela's violent temper was reminiscent of the biggest brat in tennis history, John McEnroe. Sure, there is a certain amount of gamesmanship that might be acceptable, but bad sportsmanship should not be tolerated, especially when you are representing your country, with "Israel" printed on your shirt. It also came a week after the country's No. 1 women's player, Shahar Pe'er, was accused of unsporting behavior during Israel's Davis Cup tie against Russia. Amos Gilady, the country's top sports administrator and a member of the International Olympic Committee, said Pe'er had incited the Ramat Hasharon crowd, encouraging home fans to mimic the grunts of Russian star Maria Sharapova. While Pe'er declined comment, the Israel Tennis Association brushed off Gilady's criticism, but urged spectators to behave themselves in future matches. In the future, it would serve Israel's tennis players and spectators well to remember the wise words of the 19th-century American sportswriter, Grantland Rice: "For when the One Great Scorer comes To write against your name He marks - not that you won or lost - But how you played the game."