, June 15, 2024

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The Power Fist

  •   4 min reads
The Power Fist
via Flickr
by Jing Montealegre

Tiger Woods did it. Novak Djokovic does it. Olympians do it. What’s with this phenomenon called fist pumping - an almost obscene gesture not unlike someone giving you the finger?

In the past, sportsmen took their victories humbly, with a quick bow, a beaming face, and an occasional jump for joy. Jack Nicklaus, Jerry West, Mark Spitz, Larry Bird, Nadia Comaneci, Steffi Graf and Bjorn Borg never gave us the fist. Even temperamental John McEnroe didn’t give us the fist either. Well, he just smashed his racket on the ground.

Today’s athletes can’t seem to win without fist pumping, or the Power Fist, we’d like to call it. Every birdie, every passing shot, every dunk, spike or touché, every littlepoint now comes with a fist pump.

This new “scourge of sports”, this obscene act, I regret to say, could get the Board of Censors into sports soon. Censors, like the hooded axe-men and executioners of old, would be more than happy to manage the offending fists - that is, cut them off. The fear this would engender among sports competitors would quickly put an end to the fashionable fist pump. Or result in too many “one-handed” athletes - pretty grim scenario, indeed.

Not too long ago, we saw Bata Reyes grin and flick his nose while pocketing a combination, and Grandmasters Wesley So and Eugene Torre let slip the tiniest of smiles as they trounced players across the chessboard. Then, I warmed to the idea that the Power Fist (which came with grunts and Ughs! I forgot to mention) may just be a passing fancy. A belief reinforced every time I saw the people’s champ Manny Pacquiao blast opponents with his fists (that’s what fists are for, by the way), and celebrate his victory with just a sweaty embrace all around, some serious praying in the corner, a brief after-fight interview and a trip to the barber for a Justin Beiber cut.

Not quite recently, media darling Tim Tebow, the once-Denver bronco quarterback, has nixed fist pumping and introduced his very own celebratory Power Kneel N Bow whenever he scored in a game. At the time we remained hopeful this would open the eyes of athletes who have lost their way and embraced fist pumping - a hope that vanished quickly when Tim’s original celebratory knee offering turned into the silly “Take-the Knee” protest by Black Lives Matter athletes-advocates.

In tennis, the clenched fist (a natural progression from the fist pump) is so pervasive that every player brandishes one for every point made. I’m really at a lost if that clenched fist is directed at his opponent (the fellow on the other side of the court), his girlfriend (for cheering for the other fellow), his fans (for not booing the other fellow), the umpire, linepersons or the hecklers in the stadium. I’m paranoid enough to think it’s directed at me.

While fist pumping is prevalent among players in individual sports like tennis and golf, players of the NFL, NBA, FIFA World Cup and other team and contact sports don’t readily succumb to it. Understandably, fist pumping or “wagging” that fist could get them into fist fights with the rival team.

But as long as the Power Fist stays, we recommend a few guidelines for sportsmen:

1. Sportsmen are encouraged to perform fist pumps only during warm ups to avoid distracting other competitors.

2. Fist pumping is prohibited in cramped spaces such as elevators, phone booths and racing cars. Competitors should keep a safe distance when executing it to avoid decapitating another player.

3. Each fist pump expends up to 100 calories (double that when delivered with an Ugh!); therefore, only one fist pump per player is recommended in sports where preserving energy and stamina are vital to winning.

4. In team sports, only two players from a team of five may simultaneously indulge in fist pumping during a game, or else forfeit a point or the game itself. Synchronized Swimming teams are exempted from this rule.

5. Similarly, Group Gymnasts and Cheering Squads may also perform synchronized or ritual fist pumping.

6. The fist pump is banned, obviously, in sports where you use your fists to score or defeat your competitor, such as in boxing, fist fights and gang wars.

7. As a general rule, fist pumping is allowed in tennis, golf, beach volleyball, soccer (players may opt to do a foot pump here), badminton, mahjong, fencing, college football, TV wrestling and other girly sports.

8. Fist pumps are banned in thoroughly macho sports such as rugby, downhill racing, surfing, big-game hunting, sport fishing, horse racing, baseball, jai-alai, ice dancing, nine balls pool, stud poker, chess, Tong-its and Monopoly. Players who land on Boardwalk or Park Place, however, get to do a free fist pump.

9. Fist pumping is generally prohibited during awarding ceremonies; only the guest of honor, hangers-on and celebrities posing for photo-ops may indulge in it.

Prolonged and habitual fist pumping will do a player no good. The energy he expends doing it diminishes his staying power, and sportsmen who have repeatedly indulged in it have vanished from the scene before their time.

Among the sports elite, Tiger Woods is probably the best example, and the first victim. Rabid fist pumping in past PGA tournaments may have been the cause, among other things obviously (if you read the sleazy tabloids), of his untimely fall from number one. Think about it, Tiger buddy, you had the world in the palm of your hand, why roll it into a ball and pump it like crazy?

In tennis - except maybe for Maria Sharapova (she was such a class act in her heyday nobody minded if she pumped or shrieked or did whatever during a game) - top-ranked Novak and Iga and their crummy associates are well advised to chuck the Power Fist during a game. And find a decent substitute. Or, in the middle of a match, use it to signal the umpire for a powder room break.

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