Jones: Celebration Outlawed!

Sports In Paradise By Dale Jones
Celebration Outlawed!
You can score a touchdown, but don’t be happy about it

On a daily basis, bad decisions are made all across this great country.

Decisions such as adding Ellen DeGeneres as a judge on American Idol, passing the Obama Healthcare Plan, and closing down Milo’s in Foley. I mean – why?

Personally, I have made some bonehead decisions in my life. Like my senior year in high school, asking Donna instead of Wendy to the homecoming dance. What was I thinking?

I guess no one is exempt from making bad decisions, but for the NCAA, well, it just seems to come naturally.

As if the fact that they are considering adding 96 teams to the hoops tournament (which would make the regular season pointless) is not bad enough, now the organizing body of college athletics has instituted three new rules, two of which are stupid and one that will be almost impossible to enforce.

Beginning next year, the NCAA will take the celebration rule to a whole new level by actually removing points from the scoreboard if a player begins “celebrating” before he reaches the end zone. What would that include? Pointing to the crowd, pointing to another player, high stepping, holding the football out towards another player, slowing his stride – anything that an official might deem as “drawing attention to himself.”

If you have read my column for any extended period, you know that I am all for sportsmanship and class. There is nothing worse than an athlete acting like an idiot. Most of the time, however, that happens at the professional level, not so much in college. The reason, I believe, is because coaches of college athletes have a good bit of control over such antics from their athletes and while there may be an exception, the majority of them expect more from their players.

I don’t think I have ever seen Julio Jones pull a Sharpie out of the goal post padding and autograph a football after scoring a touchdown. We don’t need a rule for that, because Nick Saban wouldn’t allow it. Most college coaches wouldn’t allow it.

At the same time, the NCAA seems to forget that this thing we call college football is, for all practical purposes, entertainment.

People pay big money on luxury RV’s to travel and tailgate all over the country to see their favorite team play. Coaches are getting paid millions. Fans are paying up to $75 per ticket, face value, in order to get into a game. Kids are getting recruited in junior high. We love our college football! And honestly, if a guy takes a kickoff goal line to goal line and high steps the last 10 yards, who cares? Personally, I always enjoy when the guys “dive” into the end zone, but oh my goodness, God forbid!

Honestly, what is the difference in that, and a slam dunk in basketball. It happens every five minutes on the hardwood. A guy gets behind the defense, flies through the air and jams it home. Would that not be the equivalent of a guy diving into the end zone for an uncontested touchdown? They don’t remove points off the scoreboard in basketball.

With the bands and the crowds and all of the pageantry that is college football, how can we expect these 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds not to show some emotion?

The bad decision here is that the NCAA is continuing to attempt to take the fun out of the game.

Stop it for Pete’s sake.

Beginning this fall, players can no longer have messages on the eye black that they wear, such as Tim Tebow’s EPH 2:8 that he often wore during games. What is the point of this? We have yet to see anything offensive or out of the ordinary when it comes to eye black messages, and again, this is something that I believe coaches would handle. There is really no need to outlaw a player having a Bible verse on his face.

The other rule, which will also go into affect this year, is the wedge blocking rule on kickoffs. I don’t think the rule is necessarily a bad one, but the problem is how is it possibly going to be enforced? How, in the middle of all of the action, is a referee going to determine that two blockers were closer than 2 yards from each other? To me, the rule, while trying to make things safer for the kick off team, could prove costly for the receiving team, specifically the guy with the football.

There are times when governing bodies such as the NCAA need to just leave things alone and let common sense prevail.

Just think about this scenario for one minute – it is the fourth quarter of the Iron Bowl, Alabama and Auburn are tied 24-24 with just seconds to play. McElroy hits Julio on a look-in pattern and Julio breaks free. He’s at the 20, the 15, the 10, and as the clock hits zero, Julio holds out the ball just before crossing the goal line for the winning score.

NO TOUCHDOWN!

There was no holding, no illegal blocks, everyone did exactly what they were suppose to do, but because ONE GUY holds out the football five yards before scoring the winning touchdown, the points are taken off the board.

Thanks to that stupid rule, there is now a riot in Tuscaloosa.

Great job there guys! Yet another brilliant move by the NCAA.

Some things just need to be left alone.

-Hit ‘em straight
—Dale Jones covers sports and news in Baldwin County.