I hereby declare that sports celebrations have gotten out of control.
There was a time when I would have pointed to two pro sports as the worst offenders, football and basketball. Think about it.
Players celebrate after every: tipped ball, tackle, sack, catch, run, first down, and touchdown. These celebrations range from: the chest pump, neck slash, pot stir, weightlifter pose, high step, arm down field, leaps, dances, and even props (most often used by Chad Ocho Cinco).
The Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo (thank you wikipedia) finger wave, the Antoine Walker shake, whatever it is that The Birdman does when he does anything on the court and the non-stop shouting made by every player driving to the basket expecting a foul.
It should be noted that most of those who insist on celebrating the most mundane achievements in sport are usually not those celebrating championships. But that’s not what bothers me, it’s that we allow it to continue, turning sports into something that inches closer to Professional Wrestling.
And now it’s starting to creep into sports that I never thought would be tainted in that way.
I recently watched Usain Bolt break his own world record in both the 100m and 200m sprint. What was the first thing he did after winning? Strike a pose. Something that follows in the footsteps of Michael Johnson’s golden shoes in the Olympics. The Olympics, which used to be about competing for one’s country rather than one’s ego.
What happened to class? What happened to competing at the highest level and yet respecting your opponents?
I remember a learning experience from my 7th grade football coach, Mr. Harmoning. After we scored a touchdown and celebrated in the endzone during a game he pulled the entire offense aside and said, “when real players score they turn around, thank their teammates, and get ready for the next play. You know why? Because real players score all the time, there is no need to celebrate, dance or mock the other team. Because real players score all the time, it’s nothing new to them, and they expect to be there later in the game. So next time you score, act like you’ve been there a hundred times before.”
Just calling it as I see it.