Letters: Celebration penalties

The readers write -- and seem unable to find a middle ground between boorish taunting and stoic restraint.

Published September 10, 2008 6:20PM (EDT)

Some pretty lively discussion of "'Celebration' crackdown hurts college football."

BobHuggins As Jim Brown said, "when you get to the end zone, act like you've been there before." There is plenty of opportunity for celebration, pageantry, and tradition with the bands, cheerleaders, fans, etc. The players should play their hearts out and when the whistle blows, toss the ball to the ref and get their butts in the huddle.

sequoiap You don't see professional baseball, hockey, or basketball players spiking the ball or performing look-at-me dances after a score.

Putting aside baseball and basketball, where you do see similar things, and gosh I think they're just dandy as long as it doesn't involve taunting or intentionally humiliating an opponent: Ever seen a hockey player after a score?

This gets to my point about cultural values. It's fine for someone to say, "I agree with Jim Brown: When you get to the end zone, act like you've been there before. Hand the ball to the ref and go back to your bench." Great. That's your cultural values talking. Mine say, "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy! When you achieve the rare feat of scoring a touchdown, you've earned the right to yelp it up."

Your point of view doesn't make you a good person and mine doesn't make me a bad person. They're both legitimate viewpoints. They just happen to be opposite. Maybe we should find a compromise. The NCAA rules are not a compromise. They are an extremist version of your point of view. Congratulations.

It's interesting that you brought up hockey. Because in both hockey and soccer -- and remember that hockey is the game of the culturally reserved Canadian plains, and soccer is pretty big in a lot of places, such as culturally reserved England -- it's considered an insult to the other team if you don't yelp it up after a goal. You put on some "No big deal, I've done it before" act after you've committed the monumental deed of scoring on us, we'll knock your block off.

It is simply not true that celebration = bad and unclassy, stoic nonchalance = good and classy.

Good question by JMFQ: Why is restraint fetishized?

REMITROM: At this level of college football these "amateurs" are highly recruited, semi-pro, hired guns "playing" out there. This isn't the noble band of misfits who were inspired at half-time by a "let's win one for the Gipper" speech.

Gotcha. They're pros. I agree.

I don't want to see the practiced grandstanding that takes place in every NFL game by over-paid buffoons trickle down to the much purer Saturday contests.

Whoa. Whiplash.

mikeinwaco So, should a baseball runner get to stomp up and down on home plate, beat his chest, jump up on the backstop or into the seats behind home plate after scoring a run? Should a tennis player get to do summersaults and cartwheels after scoring points? Should a prize-fighter get to straddle his unconscious victim while beating on his chest with his fists? Should a basketball player get to jump up and slam the backboard with both hands in celebration of every slam dunk or do little dance on the way down to the other end of the court? What's wrong with insisting that football players show a minimum level of restraint following athletic feats on the football field?

Nothing. But what are you talking about?

Or, as jr put it: Are we really talking about the same thing here? It's not like he [that is, Jake Locker of the Washington Huskies] was teabagging the other team's waterboy.

If I argued that bumping into someone on the sidewalk should not be a crime, would you say, "So, should you just be able to shoot someone in the head whenever you want?" If I said you shouldn't get a ticket for jaywalking on a quiet street, would you say, "So, should you be able to just walk right into the White House?" That's pretty much what you're doing with this line of argument.

Is there a term for that in rhetoric? I don't know. That was a rhetorical question and I never took rhetoric.

To answer: No. I would characterize all of those things as either taunting or intentionally humiliating or showing up an opponent.

What's the deal with this issue? Why are the opinions on it so extreme? Why are there so many people who can't seem to see that there's a middle ground between "Putting your head down and pretending that you're not happy about what you've just done" and "going bats--t crazy"?

fishfry any expression of spontaneity and joy is verboten in the new American mindset. Submit to authority. It's for you own safety. Am I making too much of this?

Eh, probably.

I think not.

All righty. If you find this argument interesting you might want to check out these columns about similar subjects:

"Usain in the membrane," and letters.

"Bush to Olympians: Win (nicely)," and letters.

"Athletes are just people" by Salon Olympics guest-writer Jennifer Sey, plus letters.

And, finally, an oldie from 2004, sort of about Greg Maddux and sort of about the U.S. 400-meter relay team in the 2000 Olympics, but trust me it's on this subject. Plus: letters.

By Salon Staff

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