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The Rant

It's time to let athletes celebrate in college end zones

Posted: Monday November 28, 2005 12:42PM; Updated: Monday November 28, 2005 12:42PM

When it comes to football, I think the NCAA does things better than the NFL. It's a more watchable brand of football, full of passion and pageantry and players who aren't kajillionaire jackasses. Basically, it's more fun.

Which makes the NCAA's stance on celebrations all the more puzzling. In the Texas A&M-Texas game, an Aggie got nailed for excessive celebration for, as far as I could tell, embracing some fans. And astute readers of past Rants will remember an existing beef with the zebras over a celebration call that kept Vanderbilt from having a chance to go for two and beat Florida because Earl Bennett did half a shimmy.

I realize there's a lot to be said for good sportsmanship, but why not let the coaches and players regulate it themselves? The highlight of yesterday's NFL action, in my opinion, was Chad Johnson's putt/Tiger Woods fist pump routine after he scored. It was great because that prompted ESPN to show the whole Johnson oeuvre: the CPR (notice how he listened for the ball's breathing before he started with the mouth-to-mouth--he clearly was paying attention in high school health class), the Riverdance, the marriage proposal.

I know the big argument: It's classless and it shows bad sportsmanship. Maybe. But if a kid wants to act the fool and run the risk of getting popped in the Adam's apple the next time he touches the ball, or benched by his coach, or forced to watch his opponents taunt him when they score, then I say let him. Not to sound like William Devane in The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, but let them play -- it's harmless fun. I've never scored a touchdown in front of 70,000 people, and chances are, you haven't either. I know if I did, I'd embark on the most elaborate celebration ever seen. It would involve trained animals, skywriters, a barbershop quartet and a dramatic reading from Henry V.

Bear Bryant said when you get to the end zone you should act like you've been there before. I think you should act like you might never get there again.