I love a good celebration. Someone got a promotion? Celebrate. Someone won a competition? Celebrate. Someone is having a baby? Celebrate. But you know what pastime loves a good celebration as much as I do? Sports. And today I want to celebrate celebrations.
Celebrations in sports have been around for a long time. The first NFL touchdown celebration supposedly came from Homer Jones with the “spike” in 1965. Since then, dances have evolved into full-team celebrations. The rules about touchdown dances have changed recently, allowing players more freedom. There had been complaints about the previous rules before the changes. For example, a player could flip into the end zone, but if he did not land on his feet, he was penalized for being on the ground during a celebration. The rules were so strict that Key and Peele did a sketch satirizing the rigid protocol. But now, players can more or less celebrate as they would like. Hockey has some awesome celebrations too. Soccer does it. Basketball does not quite have time to dance in between plays, but they still celebrate for sure, especially on the bench. The one question I have then is this: Why can’t baseball players celebrate?
Actually, baseball players can celebrate, but there has been a recent call to attention about bat flipping. After a home run, a player might toss the bat in a show of defiance, dominance or awesomeness. The most famous example of this is Jose Bautista’s home run in the American League Division Series in 2015. People attacked him for this. They said it was disrespectful and unprofessional. To that I say: It is a super lame thing to be mad about.
Every sport I can think of allows celebrations. After these professional athletes do amazing things, they should be able to celebrate. A bat flip is just as much a regular celebration as a touchdown dance. Also, it is not as if baseball players bat flip after every home run. They come in moments of importance and clutch plays, like Bautista’s homer. People got angry this year at the Cubs’ David Bote for his bat flip after hitting a walk-off grand slam while down by three in the bottom of the ninth, as the Cubs were down to their last out. As a pinch hitter. I think Bote should be able to celebrate one of the most electric moments that can ever happen in baseball. Also, his bat flip was OK’d by the players on the opposing team, so Bote apologizing was only because of non-players being angry.
Just let baseball players have fun. Let them bat flip and shout and cheer and do the things that are allowed in just about every other sport — especially in a time when people are talking about MLB as slowing down and dying compared to other leagues. You know what makes people have more fun? When people watch other people have more fun. Let them celebrate.