On Football (Part 5)

Let me now consider something else about football that I noticed a couple of years ago, something vexing and quite revealing about American culture. It is the now widely accepted practice of college and professional (high school?) football players of celebrating routine plays, such as making a first down on a running play at midfield early in the second quarter, or making a special teams tackle while trailing by 28 points in the fourth quarter, or scoring a meaningless touchdown with seconds to go in the game. You see this all the time and you used to never see it. I doubt coaches allowed it, but more to the point, players would have never conceived such absurd self aggrandizement for something as trivial as making a first down on a seven yard run with nothing at stake on the clock.

Why this shift?

I see nothing wrong with orchestrated celebrations after exciting touchdowns, although I much prefer the simple spike or nonchalantly handing over the ball to the official, like the way Barry Sanders always did. It was no big deal—he’d be back.

Again, why the change? It does coincide with the rise of social media and the general self aggrandizement of all aspects of American life, but there has to be more to it than that. I wish announcers would talk about this habit and call it out or ask about it. But nothing is ever mentioned, not even in passing. Maybe they don’t even notice. Maybe we’ve become nearly immune to this sort of beating on our proverbial chests to get people to notice us and our accomplishments, like tackling a punt returner for no gain. I fear in the past I may have been like this in my creative life, but never again. I like the Barry Sanders way of celebrating.