Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I noticed something disturbing through my camera lens last weekend as I covered the inaugural Columbia River Conference league swim meet.
After practically every race, no one was celebrating.
After a few races, a swimmer may turn to the lane next to them and congratulate their rival, but that was about it.
I mean, the winners were going to state, for crying out loud; but still, no celebration.
Pendleton swim coach Donna Collins even had to convince her boys team to toss her in the pool after they won the league title.
Where's the joy?
I notice the same thing at basketball games now, too: Players on the court not celebrating after a big shot. After that same big shot, fans are sitting in the stands murmuring to themselves instead of standing and cheering.
And it's not just a Hood River thing, either.
A few weeks ago I returned to my alma mater to watch the University of Portland play our rivals, Gonzaga.
Every time Portland hit a big shot, the student section would go momentarily crazy. Then they would settle back down. Apparently there's no need to cheer on a team when it's on defense.
Every time ESPN would come back from commercial break the students went nuts. Then the cameras went back to the action on the court and things settled down.
Now I'm only 27, hardly "Get off my lawn!" age, but I feel a back-in-MY-day speech coming on.
Is there something wrong with cheering on your team these days? Is there something wrong with celebrating a significant accomplishment?
I'm sure some of it is a worry of being disrespectful or unsportsmanlike to the opposition.
It seems like a line in the sand has been drawn. You can either celebrate or show good sportsmanship, but not both.
I don't get it.
I don't see anything wrong with a little fist pump after a big shot, a big goal or a touchdown.
Or even a little splash against the pool after making it to state.
There's nothing wrong with cheering on your team, or letting your rival know that your team is better.
Cheering on your team or celebrating doesn't mean that you are taunting your opponent or throwing rotten fruit at them.
It just means you are having fun.
And ultimately - all manner of life and character lessons aside - isn't that what sports is all about?
Kids, let's see some smiles in those state qualification wins.
Lighten up; live a little and enjoy the moments.