ATHLETES HAVE A RIGHT TO CELEBRATE
Cinderella had a little extra kick in those glass slippers this time.
The Oklahoma State Cowgirls softball team hadn’t been to the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) in over two decades. They were the only team ranked outside of the top eight to advance there this year. Playing in their home state but without the national pedigree of big sister University of Oklahoma, everything seemed to point to the Cowgirls being a lovable underdog.
On a team where Head Coach Kenny Gajewski encourages players to be loose and have fun, OK State superstar Samantha Show embodies that sentiment fully.
Show’s dramatic bat flipping (and dropping, and slamming and so on) went viral multiple times throughout the postseason, getting particular notice as Oklahoma State stunned reigning national champion Florida State to deny the Seminoles a chance at defending their title.
Multiple news outlets that normally don’t cover softball featured in-depth coverage of the polarizing Cowgirls star, including CBS Sports and even ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.
Many people — myself included — embraced the fun-loving free-spirits from OK State. But a significant throng loudly voiced their displeasure, saying the Cowgirls went beyond simple celebrations and were disrespecting the game itself.
Now, this isn’t just an issue in women’s sports. In the 2015 MLB playoffs, José Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays generated similar debate when he threw his bat like a nunchuk after hitting a clutch three-run homer against the Texas Rangers. To this day, Bautista still gets booed extremely loudly whenever he crosses paths with the Rangers, even though he’s moved on to a new team.
The low bar for female athletes is ridiculous. Even many die-hard fans of women’s sports treat the game as if the players are fragile, expecting them to remain “ladylike” even in the heat of competition.
News flash: It’s not 1950 anymore.
Being a showboat isn’t for the faint of heart: You better be willing to take a pitch in the ribs in your next at-bat if the pitcher feels your celebration was over the top. But for the select few that are mentally strong enough? Go for it.
Richard Sherman made trash talking into an art form while leading the Seahawks to consecutive Super Bowl appearances. His postgame interview with Erin Andrews after making the gamewinning deflection against archrival San Francisco to clinch the NFC Championship is one of my favorite moments in sports history — perhaps more than the play itself.
As a player, if your team was already winning comfortably before your moment, it’s just piling on. If your team is still significantly losing even after you made a great play, just remember that you are playing a team sport, so celebrating your personal success makes it look like you don’t care about the team. And you better know with 100% certainty that you actually did the thing you’re celebrating for: Players who prematurely celebrate a deep flyout — or only make it to first base on what should have been a double because they’re jogging instead of sprinting — deserve all of the negative attention they receive.
Can’t stand the over-the-top celebrations? Deal with it. Or you could just get her out next time.