Last weekend with 46 seconds remaining in the must win game against Marshall, wide receiver Victor Tucker rises in the air, turns, catches the high pass, is tackled in the end zone, loses his helmet when he hits the ground, and calmly stands holding the ball at his side. His catch “ices” the game for his UNCC team, making it bowl eligible for the first time in program history.
Later this week, a player in Mississippi catches a pass in his college game that gives his team the chance to tie the game with a PAT. But he chose to celebrate in the end zone and poses as a dog urinating on a post or something. The ensuring penalty pushes the PAT to the distance of a field goal, which is missed wide right, and his team loses by 1.
I name the UNCC player because his conduct after catching an important pass is so unusual. I do not name the Mississippi player because his act is sadly too common, and he could be one of many, many players. And for me that is a problem.
For me the theatrics of professional sports has seeped to every level of competition. Youngsters mimic what they see their favorite pro doing after a good play. It seems that too many players are competing for showboat laurels than performance on the field. When I see two teammates jive in the endzone, I wonder how much they practiced the new routine or dance or whatever. I wonder why grown men who are paid well, feel a need to try and entertain spectators with a new set of jive. Those players need to remember that they are paid a handsome salary to catch that ball or run that play or shoot that basket. It’s your job, and we come to see you perform that, not present us with a new motion of celebration.
Yet, if the antics were restricted to professional sports, that would at least involve adults. The sadness, for me, is that the theatre is now a sad part of football, baseball, basketball, and others on all levels. At the opening match for my local wrestling team, I even saw some mild examples of showboating. One boy felt it necessary to stand in the center of the mat with his hand extended while waiting for his defeated opponent. It was, I think, his way on showing superiority over his foe. I wish he had removed his anklet and waited with his hands at his side, much like Victor Tucker had done.
Everyone it seems is working too hard to develop his theatre instead of working to perfect his game. I hope for more Victor Tuckers, but fear that he is outnumbered by the outlandish jiving that proves nothing about the player’s ability, but says a great deal about his character.