Morphoses
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Morphoses

Pro players, far from professional.

Why throwing tennis balls at each other while name-calling might not be the most professional behavior.

Picture: Detail of poster by Christy Lee Zilka, art direction and illustration by Bertrand Fleuret, motion by Carlos Enciso- edited by Morphoses Content team.

Whether you are a friend of tennis or not, you might have heard about the latest incident between two great pro players, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios, during a Wimbledon game. You haven’t? We present it below in short:

Nick Kyrgios is in the round of 16 at Wimbledon: In a highly intense match, he won against Stefanos Tsitsipas, №4. During the game, things got off hand as Tsitsipas and Kyrgios started name-calling, insult-filled back and forth about decorum and who had more friends in the locker room. Tsitsipas struggled to maintain his composure, but then he started pegging Kyrgios with his shots.

Not something that happens every day, right?

This could be an example of unprofessionalism. The two players have been to have forgotten what defines good sportsmanship. (In fact, one could not even defend their whereabouts as “mediocre sportsmanship”). Why is both those athletes’ behavior widely perceived as unprofessional, though? If we ask them, they both feel they were right to react the way they did.

Sketch of Stefanos Tsitsipas by See McGregor Illustration.

The Cambridge Dictionary simply explains professionalism as “the qualities connected with trained and skilled people”. Well, the aforementioned tennis players are undoubtedly trained and highly skilled people. But not in soft skills, as it seems… They are worldwide famous for their impressive athletic skills, but what about their professionalism? Professionalism is an indicator of how we treat our coworkers and how we handle stressful situations. Let’s trace back to where the problems began, shall we?

By name-calling, insulting and … throwing tennis balls at each other (yes, unfortunately, this actually did happen! ) Kyrgios and Tsitsipas behaved in a way that embodies the highest form of disrespect. And what disrespect brings to the table(Or — in this case — the tennis court)? A terrifying pyramid of what we like to call “Lack of Soft Skills”; “LSS” for short.

Let’s think together. If we choose disrespect as our pyramid’s foundation , how possible can it be for the building to endure the earthquake of human interaction? Professionalism cannot be practiced when there is a lack of soft skills like self management, empathy, resilience, responsibility, conflict management. And the list goes on and on.

So, what are we to do, in order to place ourselves on a solid rock foundation?

Grab a pencil. Yes, you, Picasso!

Let’s draw this spooky pyramid together. If we disrespect each other, then- to begin with-we definitely lack effective communication skills. Which then leads to super low levels of Emotional Intelligence. Since we are not in a position to understand and express our feelings, nor the other persons’, isn’t it only logical that it will create constant conflict? The inability to manage or resolve these constant conflicts in healthy ways leads us to the final step… Throwing tennis balls at each other.

As you might have understood by now, being professional means being the best version of yourself. A true professional embodies all the soft skills that the pyramid lacks: strong communication skills, high emotional intelligence, conflict management, effective problem solving techniques, and… zero tennis balls throws.

We can’t teach our learners to play tennis like Stefanos Tsitsipas. What we can assure you is that, through the Morphoses experience, kids will learn to value and practice empathy, active listening and communication.

Longterm, they will be the next tennis players. Let’s see where their choice of ball — throwing will be.

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