No Fun League

Fig 1. Chad Ochocinco has been fined his fair share of times by the NFL for his over the top celebrations, from "Chad Johnson Photostream" (Zimbio: 2009)

January 16, 2011

Emotion and passion are two very important characteristics of football players but in spite of that, the fat and self-satisfied NFL seems content to subdue these two qualities that are an essential part of the makeup of these highly competitive athletes that play their sport.

It is no surprise that the National Football League has been dubbed by many the “No Fun League” as their rigid insistence on players containing their natural emotions is taken to the illogical extreme.

Too often players are flagged for a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for behaving in a manner that is simply in line with the nature of the sport. Football is a game that is based on that raw, animal-like instinctual behaviour. Without the pure emotion that is displayed by these athletes there is no way that the entertainment value would be at the fever pitch level it is for most fans.

Far too often, players are penalized for excessive celebration after making a play that is almost always out of the ordinary and sometimes actually extraordinary.  Jubilation in the form of an uninhibited touchdown celebration is the most common cause of a flag for unjustified “excessive” celebration.

Why, in the name of Vince Lombardi, does this warrant a penalty?

All the players are doing is expressing their uncontainable excitement for something that does not happen to them on a regular basis.  If he is lucky, an outstanding player in the NFL may find the end zone dozen times throughout an entire season.  An average player considers himself fortunate to score even a single touchdown.  Yet the NFL wants to limit players from showing their natural human joy and exuberance in these instances.

Flagging a player for spiking the football or jumping up and down in elation for a period of more than a few seconds is just plain wrong. Time and again we see players making spectacular plays only to have their team punished with a crucial 15 yard penalty resulting from an unwarranted flag for “excessive” celebration.

Instead of adapting their rules to allow for more emotion to be expressed by these athletes, the NFL seems to be going in the other direction. It is strange and baffling to me.  The fans love the celebrations and more fans mean more ratings for the NFL.  Why would the NFL not encourage these celebrations?

The Commissioner talks about “professionalism” and “the integrity of the game,” but these celebrations do not harm the integrity of the game, they enhance the integrity of the game because they are real. If Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to do the right thing he should address this issue and make the necessary changes to allow more leeway for his athletes.

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