While we do agree that paddler Amal Raj’s impromptu jig on an expensive table tennis table after winning the National Championships on Sunday wasn’t exactly a feast for the eyes (aesthetically speaking), we strongly protest the punishment that was meted out to the champion. The umpire, bound by those joyless codes of conduct, fined Raj 25% of his match fee because the man did a victory dance on the ‘sacred’ surface. The moment was special for Raj because he beat former Commonwealth Games and six-time national championship winner Sharath Kamal to win the coveted title. Raj later said that he did not regret losing part of the purse because the dance was not intentional and “it all happened in excitement.”
It is probably only in sports that you see such unadulterated expressions of joy. And, most sports allow a little bit of fun on the turf. Don’t cricketers rush to the pitch with their spikes on to grab wickets after an important victory? Don’t tennis players take off their sweaty T-shirts and throw them to the crowd after winning a Slam? And that’s exactly what Novak Djokovic did after beating Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open on Sunday. Then there are the footballers and athletes. The footballers do all kinds of things after scoring a goal like all falling down over each other in a heap. Athletes have a habit of falling on the track after a gruelling race or running away with their countries’ flag. And, not to forget, cricketers are also allowed to display their victory spoils on the field: remember how they all got into the Audi that Ravi Shastri won Down Under in 1985 and drove around the stadium? They all display their happiness on the turf they play on, isn’t it? Now it’s not Raj’s fault that the turf, in his case, happened to be the table itself.
For spectators, such victory dances are as entertaining as the games. It adds drama and a human element to the otherwise intense competition that usually precedes such acts. Raj has absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. Only, before he does such a jig next time, he must polish up his dancing skills a bit.