Props to CFL for its celebration leniency
It’s not the no fun league, but instead let’s call it the conditional fun league
Traditionalists are now free to view every CFL end zone as an 11,700-square-foot version of Pandora’s box.
But that would likely be an over-reaction to the league’s relaxed rule on touchdown celebrations, for which its leadership ought to receive at least limited props.
It seems a reasoned response to what have been reasonable objections from fans and some team officials to the CFL’s objectionable conduct rule forbidding the use of props in touchdown celebrations.
The outcry, for wont of a better word, reached a crescendo last weekend, when Edmonton’s Duke Williams was flagged for his Booster Juice crawl through a sign board, while Winnipeg ’s Darvin Adams was allowed to tote around a TSN camera penalty free.
The CFL issued a statement Monday to Postmedia admitting Adams should have been penalized for use of a prop. Two days later, following consultations involving commissioner Randy Ambrosie, team presidents and on-field officials and supervisors, the rule was changed effective immediately.
“Under this revised standard, some touchdown celebrations seen in the league recently, including the use of a TSN camera and A-frame signage during last weekend’s games, would not be subject to an objectionable conduct penalty,” the league said in its announcement.
It’s another example of Ambrosie’s rather refreshing and responsive leadership, in a similar vein as the abolishment of padded practices during the regular season.
And it must be pointed out the league is bracing for, rather than completely embracing, the unknown here by slapping common-sense conditions on the coming end-zone hijinks.
“Everyone involved wants to reach the right balance between giving players an opportunity to express their joy and creativity and maintaining the pace and sportsmanship of our game,” said Darren Hackwood, the league’s senior director of officiating.
So don’t embarrass or demean your opponent, yourself, your team, your league, the officials, stadium employees or fans.
Don’t discriminate. Don’t threaten. Don’t mimic the use of a weapon. Don’t make any sexual gestures. Don’t pull anything out of your pants. (That may or may not be related to the aforementioned sexual gestures condition).
Don’t pull anything out of the goalpost assembly. If you pick up a TSN camera, don’t drop it unless you’re willing to hand over your game cheques for the remainder of the season because you will be held liable for damage. And don’t delay the game unduly. Because that’s the job of the replay official. And referee Al Bradbury.
The CFL also warns celebrants not to engage in “unnecessary physical contact with an official.” When is it necessary to have physical contact with an official? Is there a post-game hug rule now?
At any rate, that’s a rather extensive list of don’ts.
This isn’t the No Fun League, but it is the Conditional Fun League.
“The stakes in our league are very high and the intensity level is second to none,” Ambrosie said. “But at the end of the day, football is a game and it should be fun for players and fun for fans.”
It should be entertaining. And like it or not, it absolutely has to appeal to a generation of fans who are surgically attached to their smartphones, lest that generation be entirely lost as consumers of CFL products and attendees of CFL games.
Videos of wacky end-zone celebrations are perfect fodder for social media, which could be seen as free advertising. They are certainly seen by that generation of fans as worthy of their various social media feeds.
It also ought to be fun to score a touchdown, at least in most cases, and that’s worth celebrating, at least briefly, with all of your clothes on. Because they are still a relative rarity.
In 2017, there were 436 touchdowns scored in 81 CFL games, so just over five per tilt. But only 139 players made it into the end zone for at least one major and there were 656 players who dressed for at least one regular season game.
That’s just 21 per cent of the player force getting into the end zone for six points.
It’s a big deal. You might never get there again.
Traditionalists will say that players who make it into the end zone should act like they have been there before.
But CFL players like Duke Williams, who is pretty much guaranteed to get there again, are in the entertainment business as much as they are in the business of getting to the end zone as often as possible.
And the entertainment business is chock full of props.
The CFL’s latest rule clarification for excessive touchdown celebrations is partly inspired by Darvin Adams, who toted around a TSN camera after scoring a touchdown for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last weekend.