by user ASwaff

Let me preface this opinion by giving huge credit to George Mason on a big win over championship favorite Uconn. They played a heck of a game, and I look forward to their appearance in the Final Four.

That said, let me get down to business. Jersey popping. Right after George Mason won the game, the first thing that a number of their players did was jump on the scorer's table and start popping their jerseys. Some took off their jerseys to wave them in front of the crowd. That kind of celebration is obnoxious, arrogant and selfish. Instead of being excited for the moment, these players have to get up and show the world who the man is. It's not celebration for a team accomplishment, it's a self-indulgent "me" festival.

I watched the same thing last year when Bucknell upset Kansas. And I watched the same thing earlier this year when Kansas defeated Texas in the Big 12 championship game. Players gratifying their own egos with this ridiculous show of jersey popping.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that respect for the opponent is overstated sometimes in the sporting world, and most talk of respect or humility is downright B.S. I think it takes a certain level of pride to win, and a certain amount of selfishness to want the ball when the game is on the line. That's fine. There is also nothing wrong with celebrating. But the stuff people do to celebrate these days crosses the line.

If you want to celebrate, there is a way to do it in a way that respects your opponents, not to mention yourselves and the team and school you represent. Shout if you want, and pump your fist in the air. High five your teammates, hug your coach, or go find your mom in the stands. There are plenty of ways to celebrate respectfully. But the jersey popping and the end-zone dancing and the smack-talking has nothing to do with celebration. It's more than getting lost in the moment and letting your emotions get the best of you, it's allowing your desire for props overcome civility and sportsmanship.

I'll say it again, it's obnoxious and disrespectful.

The thing that bothers me most about that kind of celebration, though, it that I want to like a team like George Mason. We're America, and everyone loves an underdog. It's what we're all about. That's why every single sporting movie is about an underdog. But when I see players act like that, it makes me not like the team. It makes me not want to cheer for them, and it makes me not want to cheer for underdogs in the future for fear of the orgy of arrogance that will almost certainly ensue.

I want to make a call to all athletes and sports fans out there. A call for athlets to stop with the dumb celebrations already. Celebrate, but don't do so in a way that makes people want to hate you. And fans, don't put up with it. Even in moments of triumph, don't cheer your team if that's how they choose to celebrate. Let the world know that that kind of celebration is not acceptable.

The sporting world needs a shake-up to make these athletes realize that they play for a team without which they could not win. Having a celebration that acknowledges teammates as well as the respect for your opponent would not be out of line. The arrogance has become pervasive and unreasonable. It's not healthy.

I think the shake-up starts with the celebrations.


Sun 03/26/06, 3:02 pm EST

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