At one time in the NFL, excessive touchdown celebrations on the field were frowned upon by the league and penalized as unsportsmanlike conduct. Nonetheless several players and teams routinely defied this practice, creating their own celebration rituals like the Ickey Shuffle, the Lambeau Leap, and the infamous Dirty Bird, for which they were sometimes penalized when they were deemed to go “too far.”
But all that changed this season, when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced last spring that the league would be relaxing restrictions on touchdown celebrations, stating that it wants to allow players “more room to have fun after they make the big plays.” He went on to speak about how people love the “spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown.”
He couldn’t be more right. Spontaneous displays of emotion after wins are in a lot of ways everything. Celebrating a touchdown may seem frivolous but the act of recognition via celebration strengthens team bonds, reinforces the winning behavior, and brings a rush of positive energy that is the fuel of excellence.
NFL touchdown celebrations endured in spite of the rules and emerged victorious because we can all relate to the part of winning where you get to feel like a winner. Deep down everyone wants to spike a ball to mark their achievements, or at least pump their fist and give a good “Yeah!” to the world.
You win big; you celebrate big. Don’t you? Don’t you douse the coach with Gatorade at the end of it all? If you don’t celebrate the big wins in big fashion, then what was it all for anyway, numbers on a scoreboard, results on a spreadsheet? No. Let humans do the human thing and enjoy their achievements.
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They all don’t have to be game-winning touchdowns either. Think about what a “win” might mean to individuals on a daily basis. Completing an easy project may be a huge win for someone who is swamped with easy projects. In sports there’s a saying, and that is “a win is a win.” Doesn’t matter how heroic it was, only that you put the win up – that’s what it’s all about.
People need some time in the spotlight to be proud of their accomplishments; give it to them. If at the end of all the drudgery you can’t kick back and goof off for a bit, you’re losing sight of what makes people tick. When you train and train and train all off-season and then don’t get to celebrate when you finally make the big play, that’s no fun. Maybe don’t douse your employees with Gatorade, but at least make the work fun.
This article originally published on the Halo Recognition blog.