When the impossible pass is thrown and caught, football players often spike the ball into the ground or throw it up into the crowd. After the amazing dunk, basketball players pump their fists, jump up and down, and have even done push ups. Baseball players rush each other and cause a huge pile up after wins and sometimes in the middle of games after home runs. Running around the end of the endzone, jumping into and bodychecking one another, slapping the floor of the court, all of these are ways that athletes celebrate after big plays.
And we celebrate with them, at least, as long as they are on the team we’re rooting for. If they aren’t, well then, they’d best beware because we’ll slap them with unsportsmanlike conduct and accuse them of showboating.
Which is exactly what is going on with Usain Bolt at the Olympic Games. He ran the 100m so fast that he as he realized he was going to easily beat everyone and so he beat his chest as he crossed the finish line. He then jumped up and down and celebrated by going over to hug his family. For that matter, even wrapping his flag around his shoulders has somehow been construed as his showboating. I’ve read everything from he’s just not a nice person for showing off to he was deliberately slowing down so that he can get more money on re-breaking his own world record later on. And I think it’s all ridiculous. If he was American the rest of the world might be up in arms, but we would be defending him, saying he’s only 21, look at how easily he beat the world’s best runners, he has a right to celebrate. But he’s Jamaican, so we stand aside and say, that was unprofessional, that was unsportsmanlike, he should be ashamed. Well let me say this:
He’s 21 years old, ok, now he’s actually 22, but whatever. He just beat the world’s best runners so easily that even thumping his chest he still won with time to spare. He has a right to celebrate. Just like students tear down the goal posts after winning the big game, the way they rush the court, the jumping, the screaming, all of it is a way that energy is released. All of the adrenaline leading up to the race is now bleeding off as we celebrate. It’s just sad that he is being reprimanded for celebrating.
Yes, there is a time and place for everyting, and yes, I do wish that he had stayed focused all the way to the end of the race, but I also understand that knowledge that you have blown your competition out of the water and the often overwhelming desire to start celebrating as soon as you realize it. Maybe everyone is frowning so hard on what he did, because we see ourselves in him. We know that if it was us we’d be doing the same thing. Just, not as quickly.
I do think jealousy is a huge issue here. This guy ran a 9.69 without even trying. And that’s what we don’t like. It’s hard enough to get beat, but when someone makes it look that easy, it get’s us all up in arms. We all need to just relax. And let the kid celebrate. Plenty of time in the future for him to slow down.