Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Dec 2011

Rules not to live by

The whole "penalty for celebration" issue has gotten way out of hand. Now that it has trickled down to the high school level, someone has got to put a stop to it. Most recently, a story emerged that told of how a high school player who raised his fist in the air when he scored what could have been the winning touchdown was given an "unsportsmanlike conduct" penalty. Really? Officials are now expecting players to have "Vulcan-like" responses (i.e. no emotion whatsoever) to a very emotional game.

Athletes have been celebrating achievements since...well, since games were invented. In this age of Sharpies, cell phones and sombreros, that celebrating has crossed over into some silliness, but still really not penalty worthy. But because the "roll model" athletes have taken those steps and the NFL took issue with it, college and high school officials have blown the NFL rules out of proportion. Where will it end? As of now, the wide receiver who catches a touchdown pass is in danger of a penalty if he "celebrates excessively". But the quarterback who threw the perfectly placed 50 yard pass into coverage where only that wide receiver could have caught it is safe when he runs down the field with his arms in the air (or doing the discount double take) after that touchdown...for now. The running back who scampers in for a score is also in danger, but the linemen who opened the gaping hole in the defense are safe when they run into the end zone and lift that running back into the air...for now. Is there any less celebrating going on by the players who didn't have the ball in their hands when it crossed the goal line? How long will it be before the NFL, NCAA and high schools across the nation ban smiling after scoring?

So, here's where the line should be drawn. If a player does something to celebrate an achievement that causes a delay of the game or is intended to taunt the opposition on a personal level (i.e. flipping the ball at the opposing coach on the sideline), then go ahead and penalize them. If they do something for the sake of entertainment in a game...it is just a game, you know...then let them have all the emotion that the achievement deserves.

Posted by: sainteff on 07 Dec 2011

1 reply , Last at 10 Dec 2011, 4:34pm by horse racing fan

Re: Rules not to live by
by horse racing fan (not verified) :: Sat, 12/10/2011 - 4:34pm

I used to ba a season ticket holder at University of Colorado and you really get tied up in the emotion of the game. I now live in MA and saw this play.......what a shame. It seems like everything is regulated today.

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