Friday 27 September 2013

Melodrama & Victory

The melodramatic physical response to events in the public forum can often be very predictable. Without commenting on the cognitive or psychological aspects of a reaction, the empirical side is usually consistent, depending on the activity.

For example, golfers tend to do a fist pump when they drop a putt. The intensity of the pump depends on how important the stroke is to the golfer's score. If it is just a regular old par somewhere on the back nine with buddies from work, then a subtle and modest flex of the fist is more than enough, however, if it is the final birdie on the 18th hole that wins a tournament, then an extraordinary and unique power pump rivalling an olympic weightlifter is entirely appropriate. The golfer can even go down on one knee and roar like a wild animal. Of course, it also depends on how macho the golfer is.

Tennis players, on the other hand, are expected to collapse like a marionette with its strings cut whenever they win a match. Covering their face with their hands is optional. Of course, the traditional raising of both arms in victory is OK in any activity. I'd like to see more of that at the Oscars.

Perhaps less dramatic, but equally predictable are the hoop-hangers in basketball, the silly touchdown dances in football, the bizarre homerun handshakes in baseball and the leaping hugs in soccer. Formula 1 drivers are only capable of raising one hand and pointing a finger to indicate a win, but if less encumbered, perhaps they could do more. A race car tends to fit them like a straightjacket.

All the same, being predictable is fine by me. Such ranges of motion and response are all part of the heroic grammar of competition. 

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