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Kiss This
They did it again at Wimbledon this year. After the awards ceremonies, champions Angelique Kerber and Novak Djokovic kissed their trophies. They did it repeatedly, but seemingly without passion.

They’ve been celebrating victory in tennis this way for as long as I can remember: kissing the trophy, smiling broadly, then kissing the trophy again. Over and over as the cameras click and whir. These champions are not really celebrating, though. The smiling part is genuine enough, but the kissing is almost certainly being done at the request of photographers.

It’s embarrassing, or should be, for everyone involved. I suppose we should cut some slack for the athletes themselves. Their ascendant performances, after all, are the reasons we are celebrating in the first place. They are in a generous mood during these moments of triumph and willing to accede to the lame suggestions from the crowd. We could hope for more dignity on their parts, but so far none has dared to resist the pleas of the press.

The photographers, for their part, have shown an abject failure of imagination in these matters. Instead of capturing something real or unpredictable, they shout out “Kiss it! Kiss it!” The champion kindly complies, and we get the same lame photo every year.

Rafael Nadal has tried to carve out his own exception to this sad tradition by gnawing the handles of his various pieces of hardware. Nice try, Rafa, but you still give in to the kiss requests. The women’s champions don’t really have the bite-it option since their trophy (at Wimbledon, at least) is not a cup but a plate. I keep hoping some rasty female winner will dare to bite her platter. That could end up looking a bit klutzy, but so does kissing the edge of a big silver plate.

I want to be fair. There have been genuine expressions of love between athletes and their metallic prizes. We have witnessed hugging, nuzzling, and even weeping. No less a champion than Michael Jordan blubbered like a toddler while clutching the very homely Larry O’Brien Trophy. The great Roger Federer has, in fact, shed tears over the Wimbledon trophy. Of course, that was because it was being handed to Rafael Nadal and not to him, but the emotion still seemed quite genuine.

It has been reported that hockey players have performed all kinds of lewd acts on the defenseless Stanley Cup. Most of this has taken place behind closed doors, but I have no doubt that those expressions of affection were sincere as well, albeit kinky. Consent by the trophy, I suppose, is assumed in such cases.

So that is all good. My quarrel here is with kissing done on command. It shames us all — especially the trophy and all that it represents about the game, sportsmanship, and fair play. Tennis trophies, moreover, are the most beautiful, especially in the Grand Slams. These bowls, cups, and plates are all both elegant and gorgeous. As the royalty of loving cups, they deserve something better than counterfeit passion. At the very least, they should have the respect of their suitors — no matter what the rabble might demand.

Yes, kiss the trophy. Just be sure you mean it.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

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