My View....The thrumming of LeBron JamesWe were watching a basketball game last week in which star player LeBron James made a clutch three-point shot. After the swish, LeBron turned, and flapped his hands back and forth toward his midriff, then strutted a few steps, bending deeply at the knees.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
We were watching a basketball game last week in which star player LeBron James made a clutch three-point shot.
After the swish, LeBron turned, and flapped his hands back and forth toward his midriff, then strutted a few steps, bending deeply at the knees.
Watching him made me think of a National Geographic special.
“And here the male bird begins the mating dance by thrumming his wings and plumping his chest feathers in a dazzling display of color certain to attract the female of the species…” or something like that.
It’s not just LeBron who feels the need to strut his stuff in celebration.
Many professional athletes have choreographed their own individual dances in celebration of achievement. To his credit, LeBron’s dance didn’t last as long as a lot of professional football players’ gyrations after they score a touchdown or manage a particularly good tackle. He didn’t propose to cheerleaders, do the Riverdance or attempt to perform CPR on the ball like professional football player Chad Ochocinco back when he was Chad Johnson.
Younger athletes are mimicking their heroes.
As we saw during the recent state tournament, lots of high school hockey players have taken the time to devise a particular motion — some feign drawing back a bow, others sighting a gun, etc. — after they score. And I’ve seen 9-year-old hockey players make exactly the same motions on the ice during games.
I have no problem with people expressing joy in achievement, be it in sport or in life. It’s fun to celebrate. It’s fun to watch people celebrate. The joy of competition is a big part of both playing and watching sports.
Rather, it is the individual nature of these dances — as well as the carefully choreographed movements that are the opposite of spontaneous — that bothers me.
Where is the high five with a teammate, the hug, the chest bumps, the pile-up against the glass? When did athletics become a celebration of one person, instead of the team? And when did coaches quit droning the over-used but not to be forgotten: “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’”?
These carefully choreographed dances aren’t about joy, they are about ego.
“Look at me,” the big/medium-sized/small athlete says. “Look what I did.”
The NFL has declared excessive celebration on the field unsportsmanlike (and worthy of a 15-yard penalty). Maybe it’s time other sports organizations did the same, including youth sports.
As San Diego Coach Marty Schottenheimer told the Associated Press in 2005, when the NFL coaches voted to penalize for excessive celebration: “The game is about the team, not the individual.”
Basketball, hockey, football, soccer … those are team sports. Win together; lose together. Any player who scores does so with the help of his teammates. One would hope that he (or she) would want to celebrate WITH them — not alone in the spotlight, and certainly not with a rehearsed motion. What’s the fun in that?