It’s NFL Sunday….
The football sailed over the defender’s head and into the hands of the wide receiver, where it found security within his tight grip. Charged by the roar of the crowd, the receiver accelerated away from his opponent, bolting towards the end zone. In that grand moment of his explosive separation, he could see what every single wide receiver could ever wish for: he saw daylight. Three seconds later, as he entered the end zone, and as the deafening roar sustained itself, he raised the ball high above his head as proof that he had, indeed, claimed victory.
And how quickly that moment was lost, shredded by the receiver’s inevitable greed to garner all the attention. His head jigged left then right, then back left and right again repeatedly as his body and arms floated like a dancing Egyptian. He pounded his chest, flexed his biceps, blew off the imaginary smoke from shooting his finger pistols, and then kneeling on one knee, bowed his head, offering a sign of thanks to whatever gods could care less about him.
How quickly poor character can kill a moment.
When are these guys going to really start to see the daylight? When is that lightbulb of true sportsmanship going to illuminate itself? I understand you’re excited and the adrenalin is overflowing. But I challenge you to rise above your Me world and give us a celebration that would trump all others… Sprint back to your quarterback and shake his hand. And while you’re at it, shake the hand of the center who snapped him the ball since he’s the one who put things in motion. Need to really spread the love? Then you might as well go shake the hands of the linemen whose grunt battle bought your QB time to throw. Don’t do this after an excessive Me celebration. Do this instead of one. Now, that’s something we’ll want to see. And if by chance you’re the quarterback who scored and are now demanding the Me spotlight, then, likewise, turn a new leaf and start celebrating Lineman Appreciation Day.
Due to your endless Me touchdown spectacles, the NFL created the penalty for excessive celebration because we’re tired of what you think we’re not tired of. You have concocted and fallen for your own illusion that we are buying tickets to witness your unfortunate and highly predictable Me productions. Dude, move on. Get past it. Shock us with a change of direction. Drop the focus on you and embrace the team….immediately. (Oh, and along the way, hand the ball to the referee and say, “Here, sir.”). Practice it. Dream it. Envision it. Live it.
Perhaps these NFL Me artists (very loose term by the way) could learn a lesson or two from the NBA, and watch some film of Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs (who, by the way, has had the privilege to study the art of true sportsmanship under the tutelage of Coach Gregg Popovitch).
In 2014, the Spurs played the Miami Heat for the championship title. Game 3, which was held in Miami, captured a defining moment in classy play immediately after Kawhi threw down a monstrous two-handed, put-back dunk. The Heat’s center, Chris Bosh, could do nothing but stand under the basket and stare at Kawhi’s waist line that had elevated to his eye level. It was the perfect moment following such an exclamation of a dunk for Kawhi to pound his chest in Bosh’s face, to let out a thunderous roar at the Heat’s fans, or to flex those biceps to remind the world of just how great and rare of a beast he is.
But he did none of those. Instead, the moment he drifted back down to earth, he quickly and quietly changed directions and ran all of his 230 humble pounds back on defense. Great play after great play, that’s how Kawhi gets it done. To add an octane-charged display of ego to his play is needless. He simply lets the moment speak for itself.
So, next time when duty calls and you victoriously cross that end zone line, do the unexpected—elevate yourself to gentleman status by handing the ball to the ref, and then, without hesitation, go shake some hands.
Copyright Ros Hill 2015