A Changed Game: After the Whistle
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The Way it Was

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Enough is Enough

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

Painting of Barry Sanders running in the background and a little boy in a Barry Sanders jersey watching

Monkey see, Monkey Do
The NFL is not the only level of football that is experiencing the trend of excessive celebration. College, and high school programs have also had to address the issue as more and more players attempt to imitate the pros they watch on Sunday or come up with something new themselves. There have been numerous instances where unsportsmanlike conduct has been called on teams from major college programs and drastically changed their games and even seasons. For instance, Illinois was flagged for excessive celebration for the third time during their 2002 season in a loss agains Michigan. 6 The season had only reached early October by that point. In a September game in 2001, Utah State scored a late touchdown to pull them within one point. Obviously an emotional play, the players began jumping on each other and celebrating the possible game-saving score. The celebration, however, drew a flag from the officials for excessive celebration and the extra point was moved back 15 yards. What was the result? Wyoming blocked the kick to win the game.7 This season's Florida vs. Miami matchup had 4 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties called for celebration.8 The list is endless. College football coaches have even been encouraged to show their players a sportsmanship video made by the NCAA Football Rules Committee. High school players are seeing the effects as well, as games are being officiated more strictly regarding celebration all over the nation.9 You can even pass by a Pop Warner game and watch kids imitate their favorite stars.10 It is not a fine line between excessive celebrationhuman emotion that must be expected in the heat of the moment. The trend certainly is not making the line any clearer. As long as the celebration is worth the flag, however, expect to see more players suiting up with sharpies and entertaining the fans with their latest rendition of the "Dirty Bird."
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What's your definition of "excessive" celebration?