End-zone dancing is a necessary component of the sport
Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for food, family and football and this year was no different. However, this year I found myself actually invested in the game.
It happened after an interception by the Bears during their match against the Lions. Cornerback Prince Amukamara celebrated with his teammates in the endzone. Using the football as microphone, Amukamara charaded a Motown act with the help of his teammates that took on their role as back-up dancers.
The act, which was a nod to Detroit, the team they were competing against, connected the game to a larger context or story and reminded those watching about football’s role in entertainment. A role that the league shouldn’t be hiding from.
Endzone dancing has been a hot topic in past years. In 2016 the topic flooded sports columns after an increase in fines and penalties charged after players celebrated on the field. It was reported in one game during 2016, Steelers’ Antonio Brown had to pay upwards of 24 thousand dollars for his excessive celebrations.
But things changed in 2017 and the NFL cutback their ruling to only prohibit offensive demonstrations, demonstrations that delay a game or celebrations directed at another opponent.
This relaxing of the rules has led to some interesting expressions on the field, and has brought the game back to what it’s supposed to be–entertainment.
While some would like to believe that sports are a test of physical ability that exists in a vacuum, we all know this to be false. Professional football exists to be watched. Professional football is a story being told.
Football teams have a clear mythos. You can stereotype fans based on the story their team has told. If I told you my favorite team was the Patriots, I bet you’d have an image of who I am come to mind. The same would happen if I told you my favorite team was the Giants, or the Redskins or any other team in the league.
To build their mythos they need characters. Characters like Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Cam Newton. To build these characters they need chances to show their personality. Many chose to kill two birds and advertise another company while crafting a brand outside of the field. Why not streamline it? Why not allow them to have this personality on the field, as opposed to waiting to build the story through outside means.
This is what endzone dancing allows for. It allows teams to continue to build a mythos, to continue their storytelling aspect by letting one character tell the story of the team.
If it were possible to remove football from its greater context and force as a storytelling machine, maybe I would agree with critics of endzone celebrations, but as it stands now the only thing you can do is celebrate with them.
Beyond this, the dancing makes the game incedibly fun. It makes the games more accessible to me, someone very new to the world of sports and that matters. If you have a chance to spread the joy of the game, why not spread it?
I leave you with the words of Redskins’ Cornerback Josh Norman, “[The fans] come for this. They work their tails off during the week ..They get a Sunday off to come out here and watch their team put on a show. I mean, shoot, that’s what we are, we’re entertainers. Whether you like it or not, that’s what we are, man. We want to have fun with you guys. We want to have fun with the game.”