It is time again for me to vent and add another item to my “Things That Tick Me Off” list. Today’s gripe is excessive celebration. I started thinking about this recently as the father to two fencers. In attending fencing competitions, I have been shocked by the practice of some to scream after scoring a point. I will return to that practice is a second. Then I saw this click of Pete Weber winning his fifth PBA U.S. open title — screaming at the crowd. I realize that this is (hopefully) an unguarded moment of someone caught in the euphoria of his win. However, it raised again for me the concept of excessive celebration in football (my favorite sport) and the need for such a rule in fencing (below). I believe all sports should have rules like the NFL’s, but fencing (with so many young players) should make it a priority to establish a rule against screaming celebrations as shown below.
While often criticized, I have long supported the rule against excessive celebration (though I think it is enforced at times in a capricious fashion). The NFL rules states:
(c) The use of baiting or taunting acts or words that engender ill will between teams.
(d) Individual players involved in prolonged or excessive celebrations. Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground. A celebration shall be deemed excessive or prolonged if a player continues to celebrate after a warning from an official.
(e) Two-or-more players engage in prolonged, excessive, premeditated, or choreographed celebrations.
(f) Possession or use of foreign or extraneous object(s) that are not part of the uniform during the game on the field or the sideline, or using the ball as a prop.
This is a rule that distinguishes football from some other sports and teaches an important lesson to young people about good sportsmanship, in my view.
I have been thinking about this rule because of witnessing screaming among young and old fencers alike. The screaming below remains thankfully a minority, but not a small minority. I realize how intensive fencing is as a sport with rapid burst of energy. However, I find it incredibly rude and inconsiderate to the other player. This is not the only intense sport, but I have never seen this as a common practice. The national and international fencing associations should address the practice, as did the NFL, and make it clear that fencers are expected to show good sportsmanlike and refrain from screaming celebrations. Saying that “it has always been this way” is hardly an excuse. In my view, allowing these displays reinforces an arrogant and egotistic element to the sport as well as a disregard for the feelings of an opposing fencer.