NFL owners ban excessive TD celebrations:Ruling brings up question: Should athletes be able to have fun while playing?

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New York Daily News

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham “dunks” a football while celebrating a touchdown during the 2013-2014 NFL season. On March 25, NFL owners voted to place a ban on dunking during games. Several players, including Graham, have expressed discontent at this ruling.

Eric Fishbin, Sports Writer

Think back to when you first started playing sports as a kid.  What was it all about?  Fun, right?  It was about enjoying yourself and, hopefully, succeeding.  Of course, winning was not everything.  Coaches always preached about having a good time and learning about the game.

Almost any kid who loves sports grows up both admiring and envying professional athletes.  They were paid to do something they love, and they also had the chance to enjoy themselves while doing it.  However, a recent rule change in the NFL has caused some spectators, and even athletes, to think otherwise.

The NFL made a ruling on March 25 that celebrating a touchdown by dunking the football through the goalpost would be penalized.  Also, using the ball as a prop for a celebration would be a penalty.

At this rate, sports are destined to become emotionless events.  The man who invented this famous touchdown celebration, future Hall-of-Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, is fortunate to be retiring this year.  If he stuck around for one more year, he would cost his team fifteen yards after every score.

Many players will have to come up with a replacement or pay the price.  Although he may be joking, New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham said on Twitter that he would proceed to dunk and would “lead the NFL in penalties next year.”  He also referred to the NFL as the “#funpolice.”

And he has a valid point.  Who doesn’t like to see a player celebrate by pumping up his team and supporters?  It is clear that the players are not happy with this amendment.  It is difficult for athletes to restrain themselves after accomplishing their goal.  If it involves them going up and stuffing it down on a ten foot goalpost, so be it.

There was, in the span of however many dunks, only one incident that actually affected the duration of a game.  On Nov. 21, the New Orleans Saints played the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.  After catching a 44-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drew Brees, Graham went up to do his usual dunk celebration.  He hung on to the post for a little too long and bent it slightly to one side.  Only a brief delay occurred, and nothing bizarre followed the incident.  It was a slight inconvenience.  However, the NFL has decided to act on it this year, and penalize similar actions in the future.

The true meaning of sports has been warped over the years.  Once upon a time, it was about competition, trial and error, self and team improvement, and fun.  However, rule changes to try and better leagues have ended up doing the opposite.  The effect is spreading to Schreiber, where some of the sports teams are being limited by new regulations.

“For soccer we aren’t allowed to celebrate after scoring.  If we do, it is an automatic yellow card.  It annoys me because it takes away a chance for the team to build chemistry and have fun.  Celebrating a goal is such a minute commodity, and I don’t understand why we can’t enjoy ourselves in doing so.  We also can’t stray from our team’s colors in the uniform.  For example, we are not allowed to wear pink to support Breast Cancer Awareness,” said sophomore Daniel Ernst.

Other sports have been affected by recent changes as well.  In varsity boys lacrosse, updated rules have taken away from players’ individuality.

“This year has been different than my past three years on varsity.  They have changed the rules and regulations that have permitted us from playing a certain way and stopped us from our pre-game rituals.  Something that has changed this year is the use of eye black.  This year we are only allowed to do one line under our eye unlike the past years where we would essentially paint our faces black.  It stinks and it takes away the fun, but at the end of the day it is all about the performance on the field, and not the mask hidden behind the helmet,” said senior Luke Rizzo.

Despite all of the rule changes, it is likely to see athletes continue the fun in celebration.  However, it should never get to the point to where it becomes the focus of a given event.

“This is how I see it: professional sports are high stakes and they are also meant for entertainment.  If these guys want to get creative after a touchdown and not demean or humiliate their opponents or their fans, then why ban it?  Dunking on goal posts, high-fiving your fans in the end zone, or making snow angels are all good fun and not taking away from the game or the opponent,” said Athletic Director Ms. Stephanie Joannon.  “I feel completely different about the same situation in high school.  High school is a place where is should be all about team and not about one individual showboating.  In high school it is about being humble in victory and classy in defeat.  The pros?  Let them entertain us without insulting anyone.  Some of these professional athletes are some of our best creative thinkers.”