We do it with friends. We do it in Ocean on a Friday night. We do it on our birthdays. We do it when Impact launches its new website. Robin Van Persie recently did it unashamedly against his old team, while Mario Götze didn’t. This week, Impact Sport assesses the spectrum of sporting celebrations.
The Tardelli Scream
In one of the most iconic of celebrations in footballing history, this Italian’s raw, unscripted passion showed just how much it means to score in a World Cup final. Marco Tardelli realised the subject of many a childhood dream against West Germany in 1982. The euphoric release that ensued embodied football’s capacity to shut out all human problems, at least for a brief moment. Arms-aloft, shaking his head and hollering in bewilderment with a frenzied run to nowhere in particular, it is the purity of ‘The Scream’ that makes it a true celebration. Edvard Munch, eat your heart out.
While Tardelli encapsulates the joy that sport brings to the individual, the Green Bay Packers have a tradition of doing something just as important: connecting with the fans. Score a touchdown at Lambeau Field, run towards and jump into the stands behind the end-zone. What makes this celebration exemplary is the Minnesotan camaraderie showcased between the scorer, who blends into the crowd, and the jubilant fans, who help the G-Man up to sit by them and pat him on the back in recognition of his efforts. Maybe he just wants a group hug to stay warm in the frosty Midwest.
Only the best can get away with this. Paraphrasing the dictionary, to shrug is ‘for Michael Jordan to raise his shoulders slightly and momentarily to express indifference to the fact that he scored his sixth three in the Bulls’ 1992 NBA Finals win over Portland. Just like that, a man with multiple MVP awards to his name became a symbol of hubris even outside the sporting world.
Following his impudent chip at Old Trafford in 1996, Eric Cantona soaked in the crowd’s cheers like a kid in a stadium for the first time. Of course, The King did it with Jordanesque arrogance: puffing his chest out, turning slowly and raising his arms to his subjects as if to say “Bow down to The King. You are not worthy.” Nonchalant doesn’t even cover it.
The knee-slide is a cool enough celebration on grass as it is, but across 60 metres of ice? (The pun writes itself.) After scoring the game-winning goal for the Calgary Flames against the Edmonton Oilers in 1991, Theo Fleury took full advantage of the rink’s frictionlessness by flinging himself across Tenacious D-style.
Here is someone who legally changed his name to his jersey number (and he couldn’t even get that right). He once raced a horse. He was arrested earlier this year for slapping his lawyer’s backside in court. He befriended a homeless man named ‘Porkchop’. Always preplanned and amusing, much is expected after a Chad Ochocinco touchdown. So child please, kiss da baby and getcha popcorn ready.
Well-versed in theatrical choreography, these flaxen footballers became somewhat an internet sensation for their latest group celebrations. Whether it’s the Fish or the Toilet, the Human Bicycle or Giving Birth, we only have the woeful defending of the Úrvalsdeild Division to thank for Stjarnan FC’s (Guðjohn)sensational celebrations.
Backflip after backflip after backflip after backflip after backflip – plus a somersault – fans always know what to expect when he hits the back of the net. Lomana LuaLua holds not only one of the best names in sport, but also one of the most talented of celebrations (arguably better than his footballing talents).
Let’s not forget: defensive players can celebrate too. But Aldon Smith’s celebration (or lack thereof) is simple, unique and rational. With the Rams on fourth down, Smith came up with a sack to give the 49ers possession in midfield. Instead of a typical linebacker dance or flex, he proceeded to sprint straight to the bench and sit down so the offence can take to the field. And that was it.
Head Over Heels
Nate Robinson absolutely loved Paul Pierce’s game-winning jumpshot at Madison Square Garden in 2010, so much so that he leaped up and over his stolid teammate like a hyperactive child (well, shorter). Almost breaking his neck in the process, Robinson resembled an upside down Jumpman slam-dunking the floor. Someone get a bandaid for that booboo.
Coventry’s Robbie Simpson, heed this advice: unless you play ice hockey or you’re on a perfectly manicured and watered patch of grass, sliding on your knees is not recommended. The embarrassment of your faceplant-bellyflop-scraped patella combo is saved only by the fact that you scored. D’oh.
It’s all well and good to take your shirt off and swing it round à la Ocean Baywatch. However, as Diego Forlan found out, if you can’t put it back on before your opponents kick off, then you are left with the awkward multitask of playing on while redressing. Fortunately for Forlan, exposing your chest was not a bookable offence until two years later, and the goal was quite the peach.
Eat My Shorts
Mirko Vucinic says “Why take your shirt off when you can take your shorts off?”
If you have the audacity to celebrate with a flip or a somersault, at least do it properly. Marion Barber of the Chicago Bears made it about 300° of the way there, then the force of gravity took its toll. Have fun picking out the turf from your helmet grill, Marion.
Georgian Geordie Goes Gaga
Has anyone told Temuri Ketsbaia that he scored?
Let’s Get Ready To Fumble
Here’s DeSean Jackson honouring a fumble. One of the most basic rules in American football is that the ball must cross the line in the possession of the runner for a touchdown to be scored. Apparently, Jackson had other ideas. With his celebratory dance already in mind for his first career TD, he left the ball in open play before strolling into the endzone cockily with some sort of arm-waving wiggle. In doing so, he effectively cost the Eagles seven points. They went on to lose 41-37. Rookie.
Court Invasion Precipitation
In a hectic high-school basketball ending, the white team thinks it does enough to secure the victory with a three-pointer in the game’s final seconds. Cue coaches and players mobbing their teammates on the court in ecstasy. Yet there is time still left on the clock as the black team somehow sinks a miraculous shot from half-court as time expires to win the game. Cue coaches and players mobbing their teammates on the court in ecstasy, as the white team looks on incredulously. The moral of the story corresponds to the age-old Sunday League football saying: “Play to the whistle (or buzzer-slash-horn-thingy), lads.”
Boley The Bully
Let me remind you again: defensive players can celebrate too. That doesn’t mean they know how to. After he returned a fumble for a 65-yard touchdown, Michael Boley decided to release his energy by hurling the pigskin straight into an innocent intern’s face for no apparent reason. Let’s hope the boy was at least being paid.
We’ve all wanted to see this happen.