Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Celebrate Good Times (But Not Too Much or Else)

The first thing I learned when I played sports in elementary school with my friends? Celebrate when you do something well. Score a touchdown? Spike the ball or do a little dance. Have a great day on the court? Celebrate.

We weren't being cocky. We were just kids at 8-11 years old having fun. Somewhere between kids having fun and being adults, you learn to check your emotions a bit but not altogether. That style is just as important as perfecting your craft. But you learned to only celebrate after doing something big, not just something regular.

Sports over the last 10 years or so has gone overboard to limit self-expression. Any type of celebration deemed excessive is automatically penalized without considering the context of it. Case in point? This Texas relay squad is banned from the state meet because some kid showed off too much after a win.

His crime? Pointing his finger in the sky. The same egregious thing that some kid in Boston did in 2011 after a game winning touchdown. Some nerve huh? How dare they show up the opponent by not even pointing at them!!!

This is why I feel sad for sports today. There's limiting excessive celebrations and then there's this. I wish those who made the rules knew how to show some common sense in judging them. Not everything is worth a penalty or showing up a kid who's giving praise or joy for a great moment.

College sports has been doing it since Miami revolutionized the game with winning with style and dominance (Remember Brad Wing?). The NBA has been doing it more since the Malice at the Palace, especially with their ridiculous rule on T'ing up guys who show even a little bit of frustration.

It's almost like people are afraid of what happens when you let folks be themselves. Are they afraid of a fight? Are they afraid of bad influence? Like I said, my generation watched celebrations growing up and I don't see current players or younger going too overboard these days. It happens all the time in soccer and I don't think many have a problem with it.

Personally? I think these leagues underestimate the fans being able to handle seeing that show of emotion. They think we're too impressionable or that we'd turn away from the sport. They treat us like precious children who won't contribute our time or dollars to a sport that doesn't fit some image.

Well as my own experience showed, it made sports watching even more popular. Celebrations make you watch for better or worse and trust me, the playing field has a way of policing it better than officials do.

Don't believe me, just watch one of my favorite clips. Terrell Owens nearly getting laid out by George Teague.

There's nothing wrong with humility after making a great play. There's nothing wrong with celebrating either for the most part. The best way to stop celebrations? Stop the person from scoring. Stop the team from winning. Of course, that'll provoke other celebrations too but since penalizing is impractical, who said this argument has to be as well.

The point is it's silly to think all celebrations are the same. It punishes high school and college kids far worse than they celebrated and it reminds me that too often, discipline is heavy-handed to prove a point more than teach a lesson.

I feel sorry for those Texas kids. They should be competing for the state championships instead of be another example why some folks go too far to stop self-expression. If anything they should encourage it because it's another reason why people watch sports. Just like I realized as a kid, it's not just if you do well, but how you do it.

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