Under The Bleachers: There Are Some Things You Just Don’t Say

Not cool, Nick Kyrgios; not cool at all.

Wednesday night while facing world No. 5 and 2015 French Open champ Stan Wawrinka , the 20-year-old Australia made a comment suggesting that a fellow Australian tennis player, Thanasi Kokkinakis, had previously slept with Wawrinka’s girlfriend. It was said as the two were crossing over where microphones were present and picked up the comment, which immediately set social media ablaze.

Kyrgios eventually won the match when Wawrinka retired down 4-0 in the third set citing a back injury, but all everyone wanted to talk about afterward, understandably, was the comment, which the young Australian chalked up as a “heat of the moment, he was talking trash to me too” type exchange.

But here’s the problem with that: it’s one thing to talk smack – say someone has no game, try to shake them by attacking their skills, but this crossed the line and made it personal.

This wasn’t “Hey Stan – your serve has no power” or something to that effect; this was the kind of remark that can’t just be brushed aside and the type of comment that has no place in sports – and that’s coming from a guy who covers mixed martial arts for a living where they’ll say just about anything to promote a fight, yet even they haven’t crossed over into “Hey, my buddy slept with your girl” territory.

And they won’t because even though everyone wants to get an edge, the vast majority of athletes know where the line is and refuse to cross it. Significant others and parents are off limits, as is talking ill about the deceased or drudging up known personal issues. A good rule of thumb is always “How would you react is someone said that to you right then and there?”

Chances are Kyrgios wouldn’t have been to pleased if the roles were reversed and that should have informed his decision to make those comments in the first place, but unfortunately he’s a young kid that has a growing reputation for a bit of a diva and a bit of a dick and he showed that in full on Wednesday night.

The part – to me – that is even worst that isn’t getting discussed as much is that in addition to crossing the line with his comments mid-match to Wawrinka, Kyrgios also throws the female player, believed to be 19-year-old Donna Vekic, into the spotlight as well. You think she wants her personal business becoming a viral video like this? You think she’s not going to have to deal with the fallout of his flippant comments for the next several weeks or months?

Kyrgios was fined $10,000 by the ATP Tour for his comments, the maximum allowed for incidents of verbal abuse or unsportsmanlike conduct, and he has since issued an apology via Facebook that offers up many of the standard clichés that you hear in situations like this: heat of the moment, no excuse, shouldn’t have done it, blah blah blah.

Rather than regretting what happened – another of the phrases Kyrgios used in his online apology – grow up and stop acting like a brat on court. People were already questioning whether you tanked at Wimbledon after it looked like you checked out against Richard Gasquet and where you were also fined a significant chunk of change for smashing your racquets and behaving like a petulant child, so maybe instead of always having to apologize and pay fines, knock it the hell off.

It’s one thing to be competitive and fiery – McEnroe made a living of it – but there is a limit to what is acceptable and how you can display that fire on the court and right now, you’re so far over the line that you can’t even see the line in the distance. The line is a dot to you.

Take in all the heat that is being directed your way. Listen to the players that are trying to reach out to you about how to channel this energy into your play. Let this be a learning experience, not another entry in the “Nick Behaving Badly” anthology.

And you damn sure better man up and go apologize to Wawrinka and Vekic in person too.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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