“Act like you’ve been there before,” is what my old high school football coach used to say.
That remark was one I often repeated. Whenever some little punk thought it cool to make a gesture, do a dance or spike a football after he had scored I would yell the statement and hastily introduce him to the sidelines for at least a series.
What Coach Risen — and later I — meant by that was the following: If you truly are that good you needn’t take part in childish celebration.
It makes you look stupid. It makes you look like less of a ballplayer. Perhaps, a player who had never scored a touchdown would jump around and make himself look stupid — like he’d never scored a touchdown before.
However, what reason does a player who has seen the inside of the end zone have to celebrate? His attitude should be reflective of the adage “Been there. Done that.”
A real winner is already concerned about the extra point after putting six on the board.
Lately there has been some coverage of Cam Newton’s post-Super Bowl press conference. There have even been some opinion pieces in our publication regarding his actions in both victory and defeat.
I honestly have no stock in this Cam Newton matter. I don’t know the lad, and the last time I watched him play for an entire game was when his Tigers defeated Alabama.
What I can’t believe is how the antics of Newton and many others attract so much attention.
It raises a few simple questions for me. Where did my beloved game go? When did antics take over the highlight reel? Why are stupid stunts worthy of such attention?
I think it’s pitiful we have allowed what sells to corrupt the game. Spiking the football ought to be a 15-yard penalty, and I can’t imagine Vince Lombardi would be impressed with any of today’s touchdown celebrations.
Lombardi was a winner. Winning was priority for him. I would guess anything which deviated attention from the end goal of being victorious was nothing but a distraction for the football legend.
I can understand a high school football player getting excited upon crossing the goal line for the first time and spiking the ball. The referee throws a flag, and the kid learns a lesson. However, those football players who grace the field with their presence on Sundays are supposed to be professionals.
Those guys get paid to play the game. It’s their jobs to score touchdowns, sack quarterbacks and make the big play. They earn millions of dollars doing it. Them doing a dance is equivalent to me doing a cartwheel upon finishing an article.
My colleagues would think me a bigger idiot than they already do.
Players make plays. They don’t dance or make scenes.
When they do dance or display some infantile gesture I can’t help but look at them and think, Is that his first touchdown? After all, he sure was acting like the village idiot when he scored.
Don’t twist my words here. I take no issue with a fist bump or a high-five. I also completely understand if a player points to the sky as a gesture of thanks to the He, She, It or Them who he believes helped him pull off a big play. I’m even good with a little chest bump and some jumping around.
Football can teach youngsters much about the game of life, as the game of life is also about winning. However, those who win the wrong way in life usually find themselves on their faces.
One of the most important lessons athletics can teach kids is to be humble in a win, and how to remain a winning individual in defeat.
Dances aren’t a show of humility, and pouting gets a person nowhere in life.
I hope kids don’t watch a grown man make an ignoramus of himself and think that’s how a right-minded individual should act.
I think it’s a shame the discussion must even be had.
I think it’s a shame a celebration or press conference can overshadow the game.
I think it’s a shame a bunch of overpaid idiots make a mockery of my beloved sport.
Newton and all the others ought to grow up and take coach’s advice.
“Act like you’ve been there before.”
Andy is a staff writer for the News and can be reached at 415-4698.