Professional sports is not for the faint-hearted. Emotions run high, tempers flare. As the late great Godfather of American Football Vince Lombardi once declared, “if winning doesn’t matter, why keep the score?”.
As spectators and fans, we are gripped. We are left waiting for a ball to cross a line, players looking to get on the end of a Hail Mary, a chip shot from the edge of the green that is experiencing a love/hate relationship with the cup. And with time frozen, collective hearts skip a beat left while palpitating. We’re wondering, waiting, the anticipation of is it, isn’t it, IT’S THERE!
CUE: the over-the-top, how eccentric can I be before I look stupid celebration.
Celebrating has always been an element of sport. The safe high-5 with team mates, the “I really love you gaffer despite what the red tops are saying” sideline embrace, or my own personal favourite, the Eric Cantona “I’m just that good.”
Over recent years as sport has become globally televised and accessible, we have witnessed the evolution of the celebration. Here are some of my favourites:
In March 1999, Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler was accused by some sections of the media of taking drugs. Fowler’s response? A celebration against local rivals Everton which insinuated him snorting cocaine. Then-manager Gerard Houiller’s post-match response to it was almost as good as Fowler’s celebration, “Robbie was imitating a cow eating grass.” Cow-boy.
For anybody that watches the NFL, Terrell Owens has been a human highlight reel for close to 15 years with his over-the-top touchdown celebrations. YouTube him, trust me. But in Week 4 of the 2000 season Terrell Owens became T.O. In Dallas, the Cowboys are a religion in itself. Owens, a then San Francisco 49er, takes it upon himself to celebrate on the Dallas Cowboys star in the middle of the field not once, but twice. Cue the madness.
It’s the 1992 NBA Playoffs, it’s the Golden State Warriors and the Seattle Supersonics. “The Rainman” Shawn Kemp takes Alton Lister to the cleaners, and then some. Sorry bro, I’m just better than you. “Yeah baby, in your face, THE RAINMAN!”
Tiger Woods’ chip on the 16th at the 2005 Masters is one of the most famous shots in the sports history. While Woods is clearly pumped, it’s the aftermath of the shot now known as ‘the chip’ which Tiger must have foreseen. Notice how the Nike swoosh almost intentionally placed there, pauses for an eternity before overcoming its duel with the edge of the cup and sinking. After winning the tournament, the shot became an ad for Nike. Cha-ching.
I know very little about Stjarnan FC. What I do know is they are an Icelandic First Division side whose highly-choreographed goal celebrations have made them online sensations. Their repertoire includes a human toilet, a Rambo killing spree and a rather skilled bike ride. Ice, ice baby.