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Mazurek: NFL touchdown celebrations provide much-needed fun

| Thursday, November 16, 2017

Imagine you’re one of the increasingly shrinking number of Americans who regularly watch the NFL, despite anthem protests and concussion risks.

Now imagine you’re watching your favorite team and they score a touchdown.

What would you want to see happen next?

A) The player should immediately hand the ball to the referee, formally shake hands with two teammates and go to the bench.

B) The player jumps up and down a couple times, butt heads with his teammates and then goes to the bench.

C) The player and his teammates enact a choreographed celebration that could be anything from duck-duck-goose to a sack race to a reenacted fight between two players on rival teams.

If you said C, you would be correct.

The whacky variety of NFL touchdown celebrations have been one of the precious few bright spots in a league beset by a number of on-field injuries and off-field distractions. These celebrations have sprung up around the league, injected a sense of excitement to viewers and given players the freedom to be creative and express themselves.

My fellow columnist Courtney Becker wrote in this column recently that many of these celebrations are too extravagant and they leave out the majority of the team — as each celebration is only choreographed by a few members of the team.

Becker and I both readily agree that going back to the Draconian celebration fines of 2016 would be horrible, but I disagree with Becker on the merits of the new, more-involved celebrations.

First, I will address Becker’s concern that the celebrations often leave teammates standing awkwardly by while the players involved finish the act.

I agree the celebrations we have seen so far are not built around inclusivity. Le’Veon Bell and JuJu Smith-Schuster’s re-enactment of A.J. Green’s fight, for example, only had room for two people.

But Kyle Rudolph and the Minnesota Vikings played a game of duck-duck-goose for a celebration on Monday Night Football in early October. I would argue that involved a large amount of the offense.

And we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible with these celebrations. Imagine more large-scale celebrations like a high school prom with every offensive player grabbing a buddy and awkwardly slow-dancing. Or maybe a certain team is really into Hamilton and can put together the choreography to a broadway number. I want to see some 300-pound offensive linemen tap-dancing — that’s entertainment right there.

That’s where I think Becker and I diverge in our opinions. At the end of the day, the NFL is an entertainment industry. While some fans watch for the athletic product that gets teams to the endzone, there are countless others who watch for the zany celebrations. Fans love players with personalities, and what better way to show that — and market yourself — than an endzone dance? Soon, the internet will be flooded with videos from pee-wee football of little kids trying to copy their idols in the NFL. What’s not to love there?

Players are clearly having fun, or else this wouldn’t be a trend. The league loves it because the celebrations aren’t lewd, and it draws positive attention. Heck, even Papa John’s loves it.

I agree with Becker that in some situations, such as when a team is trailing by a significant margin, the routines look bad.

But given time, the extravagance will find it’s own equilibrium. Some coaches will forbid choreographed dances, and as the media and viewing public becomes more accustomed to the celebrations, they will cease to be such an item.

But for now, embrace the greatest show business in the country. Embrace the whacky and the zany, and party on.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

Contact Marek