My wife had a birthday a few weeks ago and I wanted to do something different, something memorable and befitting the occasion.
So, instead of buying her flowers, or a dinner out, or taking her to a movie, I came home, met her in the driveway and head-butted her. Then, while she lay sprawled on the class-five, I danced around her, waggled a finger and chanted, "You da gal, you da gal."
I shouldn't have to tell you that my little celebration made quite an impact on her. I'm sure it will be paying me dividends for months to come. In fact, it worked so well that I tried a variation of that last Sunday.
After listening to a better-than-average sermon at church, I immediately stood up, sprinted to the center of the aisle, gave a couple of "whoopies," tore off my shirt, threw it to the ground and pointed to the sky. Perhaps I overdid it. A couple of people told me that I did. I tried to explain that I was praying but I nobody bought it.
Actually, I was just trying out a couple of ideas I learned from watching professional athletes from the NFL and Olympic teams. And, yes, I consider Olympic athletes professional whether they're on the basketball or water polo teams.
A week ago Terrell Owens, wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers, was criticized for his antics during and after a San Francisco victory at Dallas. Owens' celebration included running to the center of Texas Stadium and posing on the Dallas star. When people took offense, Owens' response was that while he was posing, he was also praying.
He then criticized the media for blowing the story out of proportion. They had hurt his mother's feelings. The only thing missing from Owens' response was biting his lip and asking, "Can't we all just get past this and let me get back to the people's business of winning football games?" One person who couldn't get past it was 49ers' coach Steve Mariucci, who suspended and fined Owens.
On the last night of Olympic competition, the world was treated to another joyful display. Jon Drummond, Bernard Williams, Brian Lewis and Maurice Greene won the men's 4X100 relay. Afterwards, they stripped down and struck a variety of poses that all, I am sure, were simply authentic expressions of their patriotism and pride in bringing glory to their Motherland.
Recently, the NFL has been criticized for the large number of felony indictments that are piling up against its players, charges that some media reports claim involve as many as 21 percent of all players. In answering those charges, the league has said that its players are no better or no worse than society as a whole. The numbers are simply a reflection of what we are becoming as a society.
The NFL public relations folks might be right. The other night, during halftime at an area high school football game, the little kid teams scrimmaged on the field. One of the kids, no older than 8 or 9, scored a touchdown. He then trotted around wagging one finger in the air, in the general direction of the other team. There was no reaction from either the coaches or the parents watching.
Whatever else may be said, it must be admitted that post-athletic event gestures are increasingly egocentric.
On Oct. 18, 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, USA athletes and Olympic medalists in the 200-meter dash, gave a black-power salute as the Star-Spangled Banner played during medal ceremony. It was a simple and silent gesture. At the time, their action drew protests from people who judged it inappropriate and distasteful.
Whether or not you agree with Smith and Carlos' actions, you have to admit that today, the display would be different. It would be grounded in arrogance and, no doubt, involve the removing of clothes, choreography and a jingle.
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