Props to CFL for its cel­e­bra­tion le­niency

It’s not the no fun league, but in­stead let’s call it the con­di­tional fun league

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - DAN BARNES [email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/sports­dan­barnes

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.

We kid.

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.

KEVIN KING

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.

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