Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Yesterday evening, freshly showered but tired after a day's work in our sub-tropical yard, and too fatigued to read or write, I went looking on TV for some escapist feature.  So much M. Jackson coverage, I was forced to  search the sports channels where I found an indoor volley ball match being played in Catania, Italy by the Italians vs the Americans. 
I have played a lot of volleyball in my life so I do know and love the sport.  After several minutes of watching the ball being batted back and forth, I observed a practice, a group gesture the like of which I have seen more and more lately.  I refer to the practice of a team coming together after a play has been completed to touch hands, pat rumps, hug, or otherwise acknowledge physically a completed play.  It matters not whether a point was scored.  Indeed, the bodies touch in congratulation even when the point is lost.
In baseball, too, when a player hits a home run or simply scores on someone else's single, that player is greeted with a standing ovation of handshakes, high fives, punches, rump pats, etc.  Very different from the game of my long ago youth when a three run homer might elict "Way to go, Joe!" from one or two sitting fellow players on the bench.  This group groping is definitely a trend.
Now, don't misunderstand me.  I have no moral objection to this practice and I am aware of the modern day need to reinforce self-esteem and team spirit.
What I don't get is why every single team and sport indulges in this activity.  Other nations emulate.  The Italian volleyball team performed the same New Age rituals as the American team.  One would think that somewhere there is a team that has thought for itself and simply does it differently.  But there isn't.   This seems unnatural me.  Nature  thrives on diversity.
Personally, I find it distracting from the game.  I find it not spontaneous but contrived.
Does this mean that it is being taught, or required?  Is it League or Association policy? I wish I knew.
Probably it is just old fashioned peer pressure.   It isn't easy being free.

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