The Culture of Celebration

After the Bronco’s season tumbled headlong into the abyss around mid-September, I found myself still watching football games but noticing the excessive after-play celebrations even more than I usually do.

And even if you’re just a casual football fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Professional football players get paid millions upon millions of dollars to go out on the field for 16 or so weeks and run, pass, block, tackle, and win.  That’s the gig.  That’s what they get paid for.  And by and large they’re pretty good at it.

So why then does it seem like after every single play, no mater how large or how small, I feel like I’m watching some strange version of a high school pep rally?

Whenever a defensive back knocks down a pass, or a running back stumbles his way to a 5 yard gain, or defensive end gets a shot on a quarterback, at least half the players on the field kick into a celebration that might be excessive at a wedding, let alone on a football field.

And from what I can tell, it doesn’t even matter if your team is winning or losing because I’ve seen plenty of players break into party mode after a good play when they’re team is down by 3 touchdowns.

Seems like maybe that isn’t the ideal team to be celebrating, you know?

There’s the high five, the butt slap, the chest bump, the head butt, the head slap, and the knuckle bump.

There’s the high step, the hot dog, the Heisman, the “flex your muscles for the crowd”, and the “I just got a first down so I’m going to SIGNAL first down just in case the refs forget to..”

There’s the end zone dance, the tackle dance, the blocked pass dance, the recovered fumble dance, the interception dance, and of course, the sack dance.

No wonder so many athletes end up on Dancing with the Stars.  Seems like they spend half of their professional sports careers training for it.

In fact, I for one, won’t be the least bit surprised if I eventually see the waterboys doing a Gatorade dance while filling up the coolers and the training staff doing the “Ace Bandage” dance when they come out onto the field to look after an injured player.

After all, if the athletes are celebrating and dancing after doing what they GET PAID to do, why shouldn’t the rest of us?

Let’s say you drive a truck for a living, why not give the first down signal whenever you make an on time delivery?

If you’re a nurse and you get a patients IV inserted on the very first try, why not give your fellow nurses a chest bump and then find a bed pan to spike?

If you’re an attorney and you present a great case and a killer closing argument, why not just rip the sleeves off your suit and flex for the jury?

Just think how much more exciting our lives would be if we just brought a little bit more of that ego-centric “Look at me…I’m the GREATEST!” vibe to our places of work each and every day.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love sports.  I’m frequently amazed by the physical feats of highly tuned athletes and I understand that there’s a certain amount of adrenalin and excitement and celebration that comes with the territory.

I’m not looking to strip football, or basketball, or baseball of the passion and enthusiasm that are so much a part of sport.

But haven’t we crossed a line when a 330 pound defensive lineman is doing the Macarena on the field in a pre-season game after tackling a running back who just gained 12 yards on his team?

Okay, I’m exaggerating to prove a point but you get where I’m coming from, right?

I’m one of those people who believe that in some ways sports is a metaphor for life.

Regardless of what you do for a living, there’s probably some degree of team-work, competition, and winning and losing involved.

I’m fine with celebrating the victories and re-evaluating the game plan after defeats, but whether we’re talking about my office, your office, or a professional football field, I can’t help but think of the words one of my coaches told me a long, long time ago.

They are as follows:

If you get to the End Zone and score a touchdown, act like you’ve been there before, you expected to get there in the first place, and you expect to be back again real soon.  Hand the ball to the referee and get ready to kick the extra point.

You can celebrate AFTER the game.

Good advice, isn’t it?

You listening, Roger Goodell???

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