I’ve noticed in recent years the antics of football players and other professional athletes when they basically do their job have gone way over the top.
I’m sure you’ve all observed that when a football player makes a sack, he dances around and acts as though he cured cancer.
Or when a player picks up a first down he jumps up, puts his hands on his hips, slashes his arm across his body and signals a first down and stands there for a few seconds.
Sometimes they spin the ball before they make the first down signal.
I find all of this pretty ridiculous.
But it reaches the level of the absurd when the players behave this way when their team is losing by a significant amount — 20 or even 30 points. I’ve seen players break up a pass, then start celebrating as if they just did something that won the game. This at a time his team was losing by a large margin and it was only a second down.
Whatever happened to just going back to the huddle and getting ready for the next play?
Bill Walsh, who coached the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl titles in 10 years, did not allow such displays on his teams. The high-fives, spiking the ball, simple notes of accomplishments were permitted but not the nonsense you see today.
His credo was "Act like you’ve been there before."
In the recent World Series, one player hit a towering fly ball to the deep outfield. Rather than immediately start running the bases as hard as he could, he stood in the batter’s box a few seconds admiring his strike on the ball. Well, the shot didn’t clear the fence nor was it caught. He then started running hard and wound up with a double. Had he run hard immediately, as I was always taught to do, he would have had a triple and maybe even an-inside-the-park home run.
In soccer we see players behave extraordinarily exuberant when a goal is scored. This from a sport in which it is the norm for players to fake being fouled by flopping down on the field.
I am grateful for players like Barry Sanders who celebrated his touchdowns in football by just handing the ball to the referees.
I like the fact that college football and high school football does not allow any celebrations after touchdowns while a player is in the field of play.
It is never appropriate for young people to exhibit "in your face" behaviors.
Sportsmanship has become passé at the professional level.
I’m not advocating rules to tell professional athletes how to conduct themselves on the field when they make a good play.
I just wish they had the maturity to act with some dignity and class. Making plays to help their team is what their job is.
Making a big deal out of it is unbecoming. It sends kids the wrong message: that doing your job makes you better than others.
You don’t have to do things to draw attention to yourself every time you do any little thing.
I was not impressed with the big deal the media made out of Cal Ripken Jr.’s consecutive-games-played streak in baseball.
First of all, he only works five months a year and his game day work lasted two or three hours.
Plus, he was paid millions of dollars a year. This did not make him a hero to me.
The true hero is the father or mother who has worked the same factory job for 30 years, never or rarely takes a sick day and gets just two weeks vacation a year, not seven months.
My father-in-law was such a hero. This man worked seven days a week, 365 days a year for over 60 years, until he was 91 years of age.
He managed a store, farmed the land and raised cattle to be certain his family was given the best opportunity to succeed in their lives. My own father worked three jobs for 35 years to take care of his. I applaud their examples.
Professional athletes would do well to learn a lesson from people like them.