I’m not talking about celebrating in the clubhouse after winning a championship. I’m talking about celebrating any time something happens of note. For instance, teams celebrating by pouring champagne and beer on one another in the locker room after winning a Major League Baseball playoffs wild card game!
Teams that are 30 games under .500 celebrating a game-winning hit by chasing the player who had the big hit around the base paths like a bunch of kids on a schoolyard. Football players doing dances, not after scoring a touchdown, but after making a simple tackle. Basketball players jumping up on the scorer’s table and announcing to the world that they just made the winning basket in a meaningless mid-season game.
In soccer, players celebrate a goal as if they had just won “Dancing with the Stars.” In professional golf, entire families rush onto the green following dad’s victory in a tournament. The one sport that the excessive joyfulness hasn’t affected to any great degree is hockey. When players score a goal, they merely slide over to the goal scorer and pound on each other a little. And then it’s back to center ice. That’s because hockey players, well, are real men.
OK, granted it was an amazing, game-winning play, yet wasn’t it a bit ridiculous to see Jalen Watts-Jackson carted off the field with a major injury after celebrating his touchdown off a fumble recovery that gave Michigan State a shocking last-second win over Michigan? Anaheim Angels outfielder Kendrick Morales blew out his knee out while celebrating a walk-off home run and lost almost an entire season? I actually saw a University of Miami defensive player beating on his chest during a game against Clemson this weekend…..after he had broken up a pass. Ummm, hey bud, your team is losing 28-0, so you may want to tone it down.
When did all this celebratory stuff begin? I can probably trace most of it to the touchdown dances that came into vogue some two decades or more ago in the National Football League. At first it was somewhat amusing. But the celebrations got so contrived and extreme that the league had to step in and limit the amount of celebrating players can do. College football is even stricter, allowing only the slightest of gyrating and grandstanding after crossing the goal line.
Ahhhhh….the good old high-five seems so far in the dim past, doesn’t it? Can anyone remember when players actually shook hands when crossing home plate, or when they turned to the referee and handed the ball back to him after scoring a touchdown? Can you imagine Jim Brown doing the cha cha or samba after scoring a touchdown, something he did often during his illustrious NFL career? Or Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams allowing a teammate to hit them in the face with a pie or have water dumped on them after producing a game-winning hit, no matter how momentous the occasion?
And no teammate would even dare consider doing such acts. They behaved with maturity and class back in the day, not school kids on recess. You respected the game and acted like you had been there before when you did something good. And, it was about your team, not you. Today’s players are so full of themselves and indoctrinated by trash talking and self idolatry that they just can’t wait to celebrate virtually anything they do, even it is merely walking onto the field.
Let’s get back to celebrating only the real big things in sports, like winning a championship. Let’s give renewed meaning to uncorking the champagne in the locker room.
by John Torsiello