By Joe Giordano || Sports Editor
Much like when you buy tickets to a Broadway show, people going to an NFL game expect to be entertained. Sure the entertainment should be primarily between the lines of the playing field, but many of the fans pay for the experience of watching their favorite players enjoy themselves on the field. Fans of the Redskins and Saints love to watch Josh Norman and Brandin Cooks shoot a fake bow-and-arrow after an interception or touchdown. 49ers fans come in waves to watch veteran Vernon Davis shoot the football over the crossbar after a touchdown. Fans of the Steelers love Antonio Brown’s flamboyant cleat selection and touchdown celebrations. However, recently the NFL has attempted to put a stop to all celebratory behavior from the players.
Over the past few weeks, the NFL has been handing out fines to players, like those listed above, in order to stop this kind of conduct. Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said in an interview with Mark Maske of the Washington Post that: “It comes down to balancing a lot of issues, the professional standards that we want to uphold. We do believe that our players are role models and others look at that at the youth level. So that’s important for us to hold that standard up.” While many understand the sentiment expressed here, it seems as though the NFL is really starting to live up to its reputation as the “No Fun League.”
It is the job and the responsibility of successful professional athletes to provide true leadership and guidance to the younger generation of players who will one day follow in their footsteps. However, the correlation between celebrating a touchdown and being a bad role model is unclear. For example, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was fined $9,000 for wearing blue cleats in their season opener this year and later attempted to wear shoes with his children’s faces on them and was resultantly almost ejected from the game. In addition, Redskins cornerback Josh Norman was fined $10,000 for a fake bow-and–arrow touchdown celebration. Norman and Brown, among others in the NFL, take it upon themselves to not only play hard each and every week for their teams, but also to entertain the fans in attendance.
By fining the players who entertain the fans, they are only hurting themselves and their fan bases. They are essentially asking that each player sit on their hands and simply play the game of football with no passion. Not only will ticket sales begin to drop if this trend continues, TV ratings will as well.
Yes, celebrating can be interpreted as showing up the other team, but these are professional athletes who know they have millions watching them who are expecting to be entertained every week. They sacrifice their blood, sweat, and tears in order to do so. Is it actually negatively impacting anyone? Or is it really just a nice way of tying the players to their fans? The celebratory outbursts allow the players to express individuality and to stand out in a brief moment of victory from the sea of helmets and identical uniforms. It allows the players and fans alike to share in a minute of excitement and pride. These fines could potentially smother the most positive aspects of the American football culture. To me, this just seems like another scheme by the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell to put more money in their pockets.
However, if they keep it up the money will stop flowing in from fans that are tired of the unfair and unjust treatment of their athletes. The NFL needs to change their ways, otherwise people will take their money elsewhere and there will be no more money to take from the athletes they are already exploiting.
Junior Joe Giordano is the Sports Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.