Celebrating success with too much gusto concerns me

Watching the Ryder Cup, which every two years pits twelve US golfers against twelve European golfers in team competition, it continues to concern me over the lack of sportsmanship the match has devolved into. Dating back to the late-1990s, the televised competition has created a fervor of fans cheering the mistakes of their opponents. There was a time when Jack Nicklaus picked up the coin of Brit Tony Jacklin marking a ten foot putt to halve a match resulting in a tie, but those days are long gone.

But, I must confess, when I played sports, trash talking was something I just did not do. I was taught taunting an opponent is just poor form. As my basketball coach used to preach to us, the way to get back at an opponent is to win. The way to get back is not let them score. I mention the last point as it takes more effort to play defense, so to shut down an opponent from scoring brings satisfaction.

I know the crowds in team sports and some competition want to see demonstrative theatrics. They want to cheer success, even if it is for only one play. Yet, one coach used to say, if you are going to draw attention to your successful play, should you not draw attention when you mess up? Look what I did, I missed a tackle.

With that said, I do love offensive linemen in a football game. Usually, they only get attention when they mess up. It could be a penalty for holding or missing a block that leads to a tackle for a loss. On the flip side, these linemen are the reason games are won and lost. Yet, they don’t get the same upside notoriety when they are doing their job well. Their running backs and quarterback get the glory when they are blocking their opponents.

Mind you, it is OK to be happy with a successful play. But, the baseball term used is “you do not want to show up your opponent.” It is better not to rub it in a pitcher’s face that you just hit a home run, as you may have to face him or her again. One famous football running back used to say when he scored a touchdown, act like you have been there before. Of course, the fans want to see more. Maybe this is why drunk fans should steer clear from the other team’s fans.

I recognize I am old school. What I wrote runs counter to what is being done today. To me, it promotes this we/ they mindset on too many things. It has bled over into tribal politics. Fans are too invested in winning, that they don’t realize what is truly at stake. When politicians are too invested in winning than governing, we all lose.


12 thoughts on “Celebrating success with too much gusto concerns me

  1. This took me back to my days of coaching girls basketball. I was a rookie coach, but believed in sportmanship. We played a team whose coach took advantage of my ignorance and would make illegal plays. When the girls pointed it out, he just shrugged and said wasn’t his fault I didn’t know better. Not cool.

    • VJ, you taught character. What this person taught is the opposite. To be frank, he had his girls cheat for his own ego, not theirs. What he fails to realize, the message he wanted conveyed was lost by what he did convey. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: I have always admired players who played hard to win, but did so with class. Jack Nicklaus tells the story when he was a tempestuous teen, he threw his club – once. His father said to the future most accomplished golfer ever, if you throw your club ever again, I will never bring you back to play. Nicklaus played with class from that day forward.

  3. Celebration by American football players and Soccer players in general have become set pieces in themselves.
    One of the issues may be that with the amount these are paid and the pressures on them to succeed, the emotional release to perform celebrations could be overwhelming.
    What worries me is the amount of leaping on a successful goal scorer by their team mates, too many opportunities for injuries (That actually happened some years back during a UK Football Association Cup trophy win, albeit at the end of the game).

  4. Note to Readers: In one of my favorite remembrances on why celebration can be harmful, a Dallas Cowboy defensive player intercepted a pass and was returning it for a touchdown in a lopsided Super Bowl game in his team’s favor. The player, who was not used to scoring, began celebrating about ten yards before the goal line. Unbeknownst to him, an opponent had made a mad dash to stop him before he scored, so when the Cowboy player held out the ball, the opponent swatted it away preventing the touchdown. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, so to speak.

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