The Short Game: Dunking a Football Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person

Mike Carlson, Spear Contributor

I encourage celebrating all of life’s moments. Right now tiger moms everywhere are most likely cringing over this thought, but listen to my rationale: if we only spend, on average, 80 short years on Earth then why not celebrate everything? Celebrate awards, celebrate birthdays, celebrate asking the girl of your dreams out on a date, even celebrate not striking out three times in a row. You get the idea.

The world of sports is deaf to this concept. You might as well add “See also massive fine and penalty” to the definition of “celebration”. It’s heresy.

I am by no means encouraging taunting or maliciousness towards the opposing team. We can leave that to Raider fans. I am just advocating for a little self-expression with athletes. They are paid outrageous amounts of money, so why can’t their celebrations be just as outrageous?

Let’s start with the NFL. Over the past couple years the NFL has been less of the “National Football League” and more of the “No Fun League”. Now add the fact that the NFL has banned the goalpost dunk and football loses more of its vibrancy. However, this did not stop New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham from dunking the ball not once, but twice in front of the referees; judging from the Twitter buzz afterwards, most of America thought it was awesome.

The NFL did not agree with America and fined Graham $30,000 for this scandalous display of expression. Thank goodness they halted such a vulgar celebration right away while leaving the looming issue of concussions, the growing number of substance abuse-related suspensions, a corrupt commissioner, and an abuse issue for a later date. This act of free will was clearly the source of all the NFL’s problems, right?

It’s even worse in Major League Baseball. The game still hasn’t shedded its old code of conduct which was made for an era in which quality entertainment was secondary; this should have changed with the growing need for exciting pastimes in America. Yet somehow, Major League Baseball, much like all the members of *nsync not named Justin Timberlake, remains in the past. After all, not a soul wants to spend all that money for something filled with zero entertainment factor. If we wanted that we would have gone to an art museum or a farmer’s market.

There is also no reason to purposely throw a baseball at the batter who, in his last at-bat, admired his monstrous home run a little too long, yet pitchers do it routinely. Pitchers need to get over themselves and admit that, in one-on-one battle, they lost. It is all in good fun and it is purely for entertainment after all.

The NBA and NHL don’t even have these problems because they understand that they are entertainment first and celebrations contribute to that value. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, yet it is full of blasphemous celebrations. Just ask Arapahoe senior captain Mike Chism who, after scoring a penalty kick in the Warrior Invitational Final, went over to the student section and celebrated with three fans. It was memorable, it was awesome, and boy was it entertaining.

Ultimately, it comes down to what the fans want, not what each respective league office wants because the league office doesn’t fill the stadiums or pay for outlandishly priced water.

So, let’s loosen the reins, admire our home runs, and dunk footballs through goalposts to our heart’s content.