The demise of the functional handshake.

The sad loss of decorum in sport has permeated the last bastion of civility in athletics, golf. The uncouth display of all involved in this year's Ryder Cup soured what should have been the game's shining moment.

Stunning play from both teams, coupled with a fantastic comeback and victory for the home squad, has been pushed aside.

The situations that come to mind from this event have nothing to do with the golf that was played. There was the PGA of America, owners of the event, declaring that the tournament would be devoid of commercialism. This was before selling thousands more tickets than the facility could accommodate, and then providing inadequate security and marshaling.

We saw the players from both teams inciting the crowd to behave in a way more suited to a Raiders game. There was the embarrassing scene of the players and wives rushing on to the green before the opponent had the chance to putt. This was followed by the equally embarrassing failure of the European team to graciously accept the apology.

Then we had the shameful act of people in the crowd yelling whilst the player hits the ball. All of these acts, and others like them, detracted from the event.

It just so happens that I know how and why this type of behavior has become so prevalent. It is due to the demise of the very functional handshake.

When I was a little boy, no more than 5 or 6 years old, I was thrilled to shake hands. The handshake was a symbol of respect; it meant that even though I was just a kid I was also a peer, an equal. The versatile handshake was used as a form of greeting and welcome, of commiserations, of celebration; it was so convivial.

One of the reasons that I was enthralled by the handshake was that it was used in soccer matches to acknowledge the play of the scorers of goals.

But, as always, the passing of time brought change.

Inexplicably, the handshake wasn't enough - it was replaced by the dreaded hug. Soccer players were hugging everyone even for the most trivial of reasons.

For some soccer players, even the hug became blase. I witnessed Peter Osgood, who played for Chelsea, the most hated of teams (by me anyway), hug another player in celebration. In the midst of this uncomfortably long hug, he reached down and clasped Alan Hudson's admittedly muscular left buttock.

I have tried to forget this image, but I can't. That doesn't mean anything does it? Decorum lost.

As a little boy I became adroit at avoiding hugs. As I got older, I used hugs sparingly and for what they were designed, a brief and in my mind unnecessary precursor to coital activity. Nowadays, hugs are unavoidable. What's wrong with a good, firm handshake?

The celebrations that take place any time someone performs their task become ridiculous. Even the young lady on the soccer team in the pique of passion ripped of her jersey to reveal her remarkably sturdy undergarment. Why is it that most of these "spontaneous" celebrations seem to include the Nike emblem?

Lets hope that the next Ryder Cup returns the sport to its rightful status as the most civilized of past times.

Lets hope for a return of the handshake.


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