Friday, November 2, 2012

“When you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”

Mark Tapson approves of efforts to encourage a more restrained approach to football triumph:
It’s long been a familiar sight to National Football League fans: a player scores a touchdown and celebrates with a rehearsed dance routine for the fans and the cameras, sometimes in choreographed collaboration with a few teammates.

This kind of end-zone celebration has been the norm now for decades–and not only after touchdowns. Frequently a defensive player will jump up after a mere tackle in the backfield and congratulate himself like a breast-beating gorilla. You’d think no one had ever made a tackle before. There is an off-putting conceitedness about such displays that simply smack of bad sportsmanship.

Passions run high on the football field, and players can’t be expected not to celebrate a great play–nor should they be. But there is a difference between sincere jubilation and what comes across as taunting. “Exultation” is from a Latin word origin that suggests jumping for joy, and joy is infectious and uplifting. When the line is crossed from that genuine exultation to self-promotion and gloating, it’s not uplifting–it’s obnoxious, and the sport then is no longer healthy competition but vainglorious one-upmanship. ....

From the music industry to reality TV to politics to sports, our culture for decades now has increasingly celebrated narcissism and trash-talking over “old-fashioned,” less self-centered values like personal dignity, humility, and respecting others. “Sports don’t build character,” goes the saying attributed to sportswriter Heywood Hale Broun. “They reveal it.” ....
In politics as in sports, someone wins and someone loses. After the election next Tuesday it might be good to apply Mark Tapson's criteria for good sportsmanship to our response to the political result.

Putting the Sportsmanship Back in Sports « Acculturated