The World Cup has arrived. Some of the world’s greatest athletes are putting their skills on display, scoring spectacular highlight-reel goals over a month of action in Russia.
There is perhaps no more flamboyant sport than soccer, where flair and style is just as key to a team’s identity as its formation. When a player does something great, it can touch off a huge celebration, sometimes including the entire team, and maybe even some fans.
Like other sports, soccer tries to regulate celebrations that go too far. Players get a yellow card if they take their shirts off, for example. However, there is perhaps no league as stingy on celebrations as the National Football League, though they did loosen it up a touch this past season. In baseball, bat flips are a notorious bone of contention, though it’s not left up to umpires to regulate, but rather the game’s nebulous set of unwritten rules.
In the best of circumstances, celebrations can display a player’s passion for the sport. So if something great happens, why not celebrate it? At the worst, celebrations can cross the line into bad sportsmanship. For youth sports in particular, is this something that needs to be regulated?
What’s your take?
Take 1: Act like you’ve been there before
Players can celebrate on their own once they win the game. Until then, they should focus on the next play. The most successful teams are often the ones that are most professional in how they go about their business. Some of the all-time great players did their talking with their play. Excessive celebrations are selfish and clear examples of bad sportsmanship. Players can certainly congratulate each other, but leave the demonstrations out of it.
Take 2: Let Players Have Fun
Sports are supposed to be fun. At the youth level especially, shouldn’t fun and enthusiasm be prioritized over winning? Letting a player celebrate lets him or her show off their creativity, passion and joy. There’s nothing selfish about it; it’s just pure exuberance in the moment. No one will ever forget Brandi Chastain at the conclusion of the 1999 Women’s World Cup final. Arguably one of the greatest moments in sports history was born out of simple excitement. Celebrations should not be used to mock the other team, of course, but otherwise all is fair.
So should players be allowed to celebrate however they want? Or are some rules important? Have your say in the comments below.
From GameChanger and Todd Kortemeier
Like this article? Check out Five Reasons Good Sportsmanship Matters.