I like a good high five. Why, I can even go for a high five, up high, down low, too slow. But call me a crabby old sports fan, because lately when I sit down to watch an NFL football game, I am getting more and more annoyed at the celebratory antics of players who thoroughly over-rejoice at the most routine plays.
That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed some of the entertaining frolics of players in the past. I remember back in the ’80s when Billy White Shoes Johnson did the “Funky Chicken Dance” and Ickey Woods did the “Ickey Shuffle” after his team scored touchdowns. I even chuckled at Chad Johnson’s version of “Riverdance” in the end zone when he scored against the Bears.
Those kind of good-natured escapades added to the fun of the moment. But these celebrations have evolved from just fun to pure egoistic displays. I think it started with Terrell Owens back in 2002 when, after scoring a touchdown, he reached into his sock, pulled out a Sharpie, and then signed the football. Toss in Deon Sanders and his Prime Time High Step, and we moved from just plain fun to “Hey, everybody, look at how incredible I am!”
That brings us to a concept I call “Extreme Over-Rejoicing.” This is when someone simply does his job, but feels he has just performed something so wonderful that even he can’t believe it.
Case in point. Let’s say there’s this defensive end. His job is to sack the quarterback. During the play, an offensive lineman misses his block and the defensive end gets the sack. That’s what he is getting paid for, right? You would think he’d get some high fives, maybe a pat on the butt, and return to the defensive huddle to get ready for the next play.
But no. After the play he must stutter step for 20 yards or so, flexing his arms and bobbing his head up and down like a rooster taking credit for the sunrise. It’s as though he just parted the Red Sea and walked on the moon while painting the Mona Lisa. Maybe he did make a great play, but at the end of the day, he was just doing what he was supposed to do. You can’t imagine Beethoven doing the moonwalk when he scored a concerto, could you?
But that got me thinking … What if we common people bought into the “Extreme Over- Rejoicing” concept. Take, for example, when we cut the grass. Let’s say we do a pretty good job … the lawn looks great. How about we extreme over-rejoice a little bit? I say let’s spread our arms out wide and spin ’round and ’round, kind of like the lawnmower blade. After a while we drop to a knee, look down at the grass, and nod our head as we point down at the lawn saying, “In your face, this is my turf!”
What if wives extreme over-rejoiced after preparing a good dinner? They could stick a fork in the leftover pieces of meatloaf, wave them around in the air, and then spike ’em into a plastic food container. Not in my kitchen!
And so it would go … librarians wag their finger at the stacks after they locate a book, auto mechanics autograph a carburetor upon installing it, and the last customers to leave the store hear the manager announce, “Na, na, na, na … hey… heeeeeey … goodbye!”
Ridiculous, right? Well, maybe football players should take a hint and tone it down a bit. It’s like legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said to his players: “When you get into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.”
So go on out there and give it all you got, boys. Just leave the extreme over-rejoicing to those who know how to handle it. (Columnist bobs head and wags finger at computer monitor while proclaiming, “Not on my desk, Grammar Checker! I need you like an intransitive verb needs a direct object!”)
• Michael Penkava is a retired teacher who taught for 35 years at West Elementary School in Crystal Lake. When he completed this column, he got a little too excited and spiked his wireless keyboard on the floor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, but he may not be typing a reply for awhile.