Frankly, I blame the ad board.

So you’re in a bad mood at work. You’ve been asked to stay back for 3 days in a row and work overtime by your boss without any prior notice or monetary compensation. To top it all off, the project you’ve just been working on hasn’t been going according to plan.

After spending an hour on a frustrating phone call, you’ve finally had enough. You get up off your chair and throw you phone against a wall. You managed to miss the wall, but didn’t manage to miss a poor contractor in your office, whose head starts bleeding immediately. Because, ya know … that’s generally what happens when human flesh comes into contact with harsh, sharp objects travelling at high velocity.

You apologize to the contractor, but immediately starts accusing your boss of giving you too much work. “I’m so terribly sorry”, you say, “I really didn’t mean to injure you with a flying telephone, I was really only intending to lightly damage workplace property.”

Besides,” you continue on, digging a whole and squishing your belly into it, “it’s all Mr Boss Man’s fault he gave me so much work. I’m allowed to throw a violent tantrum at work every now and then. It’s so hard to have a well-paying, globe-trotting career while performing under pressure. How was I supposed to know that everything within my job description would actually be true?!”

Reasonable? Forgivable? Understandable?

In any industry, for any kind of job, this kind of behaviour would warrant immediate dismissal. Any except – it seems – professional tennis.

In the Queens final yesterday against Marin Cilic, David Nalbandian was left kicking himself (YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!) after he was defaulted from the match for injury a lines person.

One thing that really annoyed me about the commentary in the above video: I simply don’t understand how anyone could watch a replay of the incident and conclude that Nalbandian was ‘unlucky’.

Oh I gedditHe didn’t mean to injure the linesperson. He only meant to give an ad board a good kick just because thing weren’t going his way.

And I didn’t mean to punch you in the face, I only meant to punch the air, and well – how “unlucky” for you – YOUR FACE was in the way.

David Nalbandian might have unintentionally injured a linesperson, but make no mistake about it – he fully intended to throw a tantrum.

Watching Djokovic smash a sponsorship sign on a chair at the French Open last week, I found myself wondering how we had come to this – from excusing players for shrieks, fistpumps on court to smashing racquets a la Baghdatis. And now to wilfully damaging tournament signs. But hey, at least the chair Djokovic aimed at was empty. It didn’t have an old man sitting behind it.

To make matters worse, Nalbandian’s immediate response to the situation was a thinly veiled attempt at blame shifting, in a “I’m sorry I injured you, but in my defence, the ATP SUCKS” kind of way.

This incident comes after Nalbandian was fined $8,000 for throwing water at a staff member following his five-set loss to John Isner at the Australian Open this year.

How does this not call for a proper suspension at the very least?

xx doots


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8 responses to “Frankly, I blame the ad board.”

  1. evie says :

    I agree. He deserves to be suspended, though it’s unlikely given the screwed up nature of tennis regulation. It’s a shocking thing to watch, like he didn’t recognize the line judge is a *human.* Who does something like that?

    • dootsiez says :

      I know what you mean. I mean, the judge was sitting RIGHT behind the board. How could anyone lose control to such an extent that they didn’t recognise the natural consequences of what would happen? It was very much a me me me thing to do and I felt secondhand embarrassment even watching it.

  2. LJ says :

    as much as I hate to persecute, I think ATP should take a stand and suspend Nalbandian from Wimbledon, I know this is harsh but it would send the right signal to the rest of the players that this shit is just not tolerated and that in any other sport, a loss of control of this kind WOULD warrant a suspension. I’m sorry but soccer players get 1 match suspension for getting a red or 2 consecutive yellows. Rugby get’s it for a dangerous tackle. And if you hurt an official either intentionally or unintentionally you get suspended in most sports,

    This is much more serious. And I think it’s about time that tennis players learn some accountability.

    And I hate the fact that commentators included think, oh he didn’t meant to hurt the linesperson, I’m sorry but what? If you violently kick something which is 30cm in front of a person, towards that person? yeah you’re implicity in wanting to hurt whatever or whoever is behind that thing.

    As lawyers we know that loss of control/throwing a tantrum is not a justifiable defense for pretty much anything. And I don’t understand why it’s such a legitimate excuse in tennis, “Oh I just lost my cool.” YEAH …NO!

    • dootsiez says :

      Well said LJ. For there to be assault, you don’t need to intend the consequences. You just need to intend the action in the pure physical sense.

      And since Nalbandian fully intended the kick, he should consider himself lucky if the linesperson doesn’t pursue an assault claim. (I would, he’s a tennis player – i.e. clearly a plaintiff who’d be willing to pay to make it go away).

      Yes. I’m evil.

  3. Marco Iacoboni says :

    Frankly, I don’t know why you waste your time and talent with these moralistic posts when you should celebrate the real event in tennis, the title of Tommy Haas! What a dude, at 34, with those beautiful shots and game, after all those injuries, coming back so well, getting another title after 3 years, winning 8 ATP finals in a row (last loss was in 2002! where? Rome, of all places….)

    Tommy has defeated three top ten players in few weeks (JoW, Berdouche, Fed), and he’s back in the top 50. When I saw him last summer playing L.A., a couple of months after his last comeback, and losing badly with Dimitrov, I thought he’d never get back to where he belongs. I was still happy to see him around though, because watching those shots always produces a flood of dopamine in my brain, such a rewarding experience.

    I must say, Fed helped him a little, not exactly playing at his best, and especially giving the break back in the first set with two very lousy UEs. Yet, Tommy hit many beautiful shots, especially on the BH side (that’s a gorgeous BH, perhaps the best ever).

    However, since you brought it up, let’s talk Nalby. I’ll start with a little story. Yesterday I was in a drugstore/pharmacy in Westwood (remember when I walked you back after you visited UCLA? right there, in that neighborhood with all those stores and movie theaters and restaurants). I am scanning the shelves to find something I need, I look to my left and another dude is doing the same. It’s only him and I in the store. It’s Mardy Fish. I never talk to players (I don’t want to bother them, when I had a brief conversation with Pete Sampras on the UCLA courts it was Pete who started it!) but I don’t know why, perhaps because it was only Mardy and I in the store, or because I was surprised and my cognitive control was not ready to suppress it, but I just started talking to him. He told me he’s fine now and ready to fly to London. Then I asked him if he watched Tommy and what Nalby did. First thing he says about Nalby, “He’s a good guy”. That was striking. Didn’t take him more than a second to offer me a description of Nalby as ‘a good guy.’ Which he probably is, he just lost self-control for a split second. (It turns out that a widely held belief is that tennis players are generally good guys, with the notable exception of Robin Soderling, which is apparently not liked much in the locker room, or so it says someone I know who’s a good friend of Sam Querrey.)

    I heard about what Nalby did while I was walking to the tennis courts and checking my TL (what else?) Some tweep sent me the youtube link, which I watched just before stepping onto the court. It looked fun to kick the board! (OK, not for the dude who got injured, poor fellow!) I looked around to see if there was a Nike logo to kick, but, alas, no dice. So, I behaved well. I was just lucky. 🙂 In part, I do think it’s the board’s fault. You wouldn’t think Nalby would have kicked the linesdude, do you? I think you are wrong when you say “Doesn’t he know that the there is a person behind the board?” Well, for what we know about human cognition, in that split second of lapse of judgment and lack of self-control, the only thing Nalby’s brain was processing was indeed the damn Nike board. His consciousness (do Argentinians have consciousness? perhaps only when they tango..but I digress…) was dominated by the perception of the highly kickable board. Does he have to go unpunished? Of course not. But you are describing his punishment in a rather inaccurate way. The fine is nothing. He lost all his points and prize money. I haven’t checked how much you make for the Queen’s final, but I am pretty sure is much more than $8000.

    Should he get suspended? The problem with all professional sports is that, while they need to be regulated, of course, punishments are always a conflict of interest. Yesterday, the wealthy crowd watching the final (you can get tickets only if you are member of the club) booed mercilessly the decision to default Nalby (champagne bottles were flying on the court!) They wanted to watch tennis, couldn’t care less about that dude limping around. So, that’s why I believe the tendency is to fine players, take them money and points away, but let them play. That’s what fans want. Show us some tennis!

    This is a long comment, isn’t it?

  4. Matt Zemek says :

    A common-sense solution, Marco, to the reality of having to deprive the crowd of tennis: Make Nalbandian’s fine large enough to give a 25 percent rebate to every paying customer (while also covering expenses for the damaged board/box).

    PS — Serena Williams was originally fined roughly $185,000 for her verbal outburst against a linesperson at the 2009 U.S. Open. The fine was, I believe, reduced to $82,500 for good behavior. I don’t know what being a finalist at Queens pays, but $82,500 probably wouldn’t be substantially different.

    PPS — This whole “assault” investigation by police is absolutely ludicrous. Yet, this is such a telling look into why David Nalbandian has underachieved more than any male tennis player over the past 15 years, making Marat Safin look responsible and Marcelo Rios borderline modest.

  5. Jose says :

    Suspension and a bigger fine will be in order…., if he doesnt get suspended, it shows the double standards that grown in this sport.

  6. Katarina_YYZ says :

    I think what people mean by “he didn’t see the lines person” is that the lines people do sort of become part of the background or “court furniture.” In fact, that’s what they are supposed to do. Think of all the times a lines person didn’t jump out of the way when a tennis ball went flying towards his … balls. In one replay of Nalby’s kick, you can see the ball girl raise her arms with balls in each hand, ready to throw them to the server… like a robot, as if nothing happened! You can see something without really perceiving it clearly.

    Having said that, I think the DQ was the only reasonable action. People cannot just blindly act on emotional impulses. There have to be consequences. And his anti-ATP tirade was ill-timed. You know you’re going to be interviewed about this a million times in the next few weeks; you can have your say then, not when you’re supposed to be formally apologizing.

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