Some high school football players tone down celebrations to align with NFL, NCAA

By Kristian Rhim

A new wave of players in the National Football League have been changing the sport — not with their play, but with their celebrations.

The NFL, which some have dubbed “the No Fun League,” has always been strict when it comes to regulating player celebrations. However, during the 2016 season, the league clamped down even more.
Fining players thousands of dollars every week seemed to be the norm last season.

The league lowered the boom with regularity throughout the season for excessive celebrations. In Week 1, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and New York Giants wide receivers Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz each were fined $12,154 for celebrations with teammates.

With such hefty fines and penalties, players are thinking twice about end zone dances and gyrations.

In college football, the NCAA hands out a 15-yard penalty for excessive celebrations. And if the celebration is considered unsportsmanlike conduct, the player is ejected.

As celebrations go, there is also a trickle-down effect to the high school level.

High school players are being affected by these fines and changes. Many high school coaches are no longer allowing their players to celebrate after scoring touchdowns, and some players don’t even think about celebrating.

“You celebrate with your teammates,” said Central High School coach Richard Drayton. “No individual antics. You get penalized for the individual stuff. When I played, you could get away with almost anything.”

More high school players now seem to avoid celebrating, which may be a result of how the PIAA views celebrations.

“I don’t celebrate when I score,” said Conwell-Egan Catholic High school wide receiver Victor Nyanway. “I don’t because my coaches tell me scoring should be done in a humble manner and you should act as if you’ve been there before.”

Central lineman George Jallah said he celebrates after scores or big plays because “it makes the game more fun.” Photo by Kristian Rhim.

For some players, celebrating is as important as it is spontaneous.

That’s especially true for players on the defensive side of the ball, where scoring is rare. They tend to celebrate big plays rather than touchdowns.

Central lineman George Jallah is one such player. He likes to express himself on the field by celebrating.

His celebrations are usually inspired by NFL players such as Beckham and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

“I absolutely celebrate after every score or a big play from me or my teammates,” Jallah said. “It makes the game more fun.”

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