There is something to be said for having swagger in sport; in fact having an individual and recognizable vibe is something quite talked about. Some say that it ruins the class of the game, others are in favour of adding a little flair and style to the hard work and dedication the players put in. What is the right decision? Where is the line?
Obviously, an iconic example of controversial swagger (a sentence I never thought I would write) is Bautista’s October bat flip. This was the beginning of a wave of opinions flooding the internet, either praising his actions or clawing at his character. His home run defined a game. His bat flip defined an image.
For years, people have witnessed the idea of a touchdown celebration by football players in every league. Their gaudy dance moves and self-approved vocals are as ritualistic as yelling “KOBE!” when throwing any inanimate object. Yet, as homegrown as these routines are, they are frowned upon in the professional and amateur leagues and can even result in penalties or major fines.
To me, that seems so weird. Yes, if the action is offensive or game delaying, than the player needs to keep it PG and move on, but at the same time these professional athletes have worked so hard to get where they are, why shouldn’t they be allowed to celebrate their achievements? Who’s idea was it that the athletes who show the most class and character are the ones who don’t cheer after a success, whether that be on the field or off?
Success in professional sports can be measured by three things: personal statistics, team wins and contracts. The better you play, the more your team wins and the higher quality contracts you get to sign. How does one show off team wins? Congratulating one’s fellow teammates and their city. How does one hype their contracts? By spending one’s well deserved paychecks on material items. How does one celebrate personal statistics? Well, according to most, by keeping a straight face and running back hard on defence.
Where is the issue with having both? No one criticizes Lebron for owning seven pairs of Yeezys or Serena Williams for dousing herself in Chloé; it’s part of their vibe and their image, it’s the celebration of their success.
Yes, the celebrations in games and acts of flair should not interfere with the game itself and should be reasonable. If Bautista flipped his bat as extensively on a double to put them three runs behind the Rangers, not five, then yes, that’s not deserved. Instead it’s those moments that the athlete’s have worked so hard for and waited so long for that the celebration should be expected and frankly, applauded.
Flair is what makes sport custom to each individual. Flair is what makes sport so captivating. Without flair, where is Jordan’s free throw line dunk? Where is Tiger’s fist bump? Where is the Jeter hat tip? It’s just not there and sport would not be the same.
Let the players celebrate their hard work and let the crowds be enticed. When history is made, let the player bask in the glory that they made for themselves. As stated by Powerade, “we are all just a kid from somewhere,” and why shouldn’t that kid get their moment in the spot light?