I grew up watching football on TV. At holiday family gatherings, the menfolk would gather around the tube to watch the games. I learned the sport through osmosis, listening to my elders discuss strategies, formations, and plays.
I played more baseball than football growing up. However, the managers and coaches all taught similar lessons about good sportsmanship and fair play. We shook hands with the opposing team after the game and always downplayed our own accomplishments.
I nostalgically recalled those days recently while watching an afternoon of NFL football. In the course of the game, a wide receiver performed a dance in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. A running back dramatically pointed downfield after gaining a first down. A lineman struck a body-builder pose after sacking the opposing quarterback. These moments occurred against a backdrop of high fives, fist bumps, fanny pats, and helmet slaps.
According to Wikipedia (the place of all true knowledge), Homer Jones made the first touchdown “spike” in 1965. In 1971, Elmo Wright performed what some believe was the original TD dance. Today it’s the exception rather than the rule to see a player modestly hand the ball to the referee.
I could write a paragraph that bemoans the devaluing of good sportsmanship. I could lament professional athletes’ extravagant displays for simply doing their jobs. I could pontificate about the value of humility.
Instead, consider this simple point. Football teams are called TEAMS for a reason. No player single-handedly scores a TD. No running back makes a first down alone. No defensive lineman penetrates an offensive line by himself.
If you think about it, one player vainly glorifying himself for the accomplishments of an entire team seems rather silly. Our coaches always said there’s no “I” in “Team”; however, there are several in “Idiotic!”