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To celebrate or not to celebrate...

If you haven’t yet had a chance to read my story on the more strict enforcement of celebrations in high school football, I encourage you to take a look.

The story is pegged to Broad Run running back T.J. Peeler, who was given two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties for chest-bumping with teammates following scores – one of which occurred on the Spartans' sideline – and was thus ejected from the game and suspended for Broad Run's next game, a Virginia AA Region II semifinal on Nov. 20.

Peeler's penalties were two of four given to Broad Run in the first six minutes of the game after the Spartans first three scores and a two-point conversion, and the video showed that all of the on-field penalties were a result of chest-bumps. (Peeler did raise his hand as he ran 10 yards of his 63-yard touchdown run, but the flag was not thrown until he was chest-bumped by a teammate in the back of the end zone.)

I figured many of you probably had an opinion on these harsher celebration calls, and I also wanted to add some leftover quotes from the notebook that couldn't make it into the story…

Northern Virginia Football Officials Association Commissioner Dennis Hall on what constitutes an excessive celebration call: "They get the impact in pros and college and that's the worst thing they can watch. You don’t want anything that's excessive, that's choreographed, you don’t want anything that's delayed or that draws attention the individual player because it is a team sport and [the officials] do promote that."

Hall on his interpretation of the call, and on chest-bumps being the new high five: "That’s what it has become, it just depends on how it's done. And what I saw was not that bad, it wasn’t that bad but I have to get information on anything that led up to it. I've seen a lot worse, I've seen some that are atrocious. I agree with you it is becoming the new high five type thing, it depends on how it's done, when its done, with whom it's done."

Broad Run Coach Mike Burnett on how his team celebrates: "We really very consistently, we actually we don’t practice it but we really encourage it, we tell the kids when we score to sprint to the end zone and celebrate with each other. Don’t stand in the middle of the field and raise your hand, and that's why we're so disappointed because we feel that’s what we did. That's where it's appropriate. And then we tell them get off the field and get on the sideline and celebrate with your teammates over there. It's pretty simple because I don’t think you draw attention to yourself and you don’t say anything to the other team. There are only two places to celebrate: in the end zone and on the sideline. I think if you watch us we pretty consistently do that."

Burnett on learning from the game and the incident: "What people have to remember in high school is the role of coaches and officials and the whole process is about kids and not about football. We're supposed to provide a forum for kids to become better men and to teach discipline and teach lessons. If we're going to punish kids for unsportsmanlike conduct, the goal is to teach them that this is appropriate or this isn’t appropriate and the great thing about football is that it is a forum that enables us to do that. … For T.J. on Friday night there were no lessons learned and that was my disappointment."

NFHS Assistant Director Bob Colgate on the emphasis regarding sportsmanship and celebrations: "A lot of things have trickled down from the NFL and college, and things at the pro or college level that they might not think is a big deal is a big deal to us. We try to control it from a sportsmanship perspective. We've had instances where you may not think it s a big deal but overtime it becomes a major sportsmanship issue. The football committee in that light is taking a stance, trying to head it off. We're not trying to take away the fun from the game, which a lot of people think we're doing. You're trying to control the game from the education perspective of sportsmanship. We want to make sure that one thing's not leading to another.

What do you guys think? Are things getting out of hand? Should celebrations like chest-bumps be allowed? Where do we draw the line?

By Paul Tenorio  |  November 4, 2009; 11:22 AM ET
Categories:  AA Dulles , Broad Run , Football , Region II , VHSL  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Breaking down the AAA Northwest Region playoffs
Next: Cross-country: Brentsville girls, Potomac Falls boys repeat


Are you kidding?! A penalty for celebrating by 'chest bumping'?! So now you can't be happy for fighting your way down the field and ultimately scoring....a considerable success. What a sad commentary. Especially when the rules are arbitrarily applied and inconsistently enforced. I've seen games across the county where teams have celebrated and no penalties given. Why is the officating so random and obviously selective. If they can't apply the rules fairly across all of the teams, then don't call it at all. Anyone who has attended a county game would tell you that the officiating is mediocre at best. I have seen unsportsmanlike conduct overlooked right in front of an official. I mean terrible malicious behavior..and nothing happened. It seems curious that this particular team is in the number 1 slot. If this call doesn't get overturned, I would be surprised. However, if the punishment stands....the Virginia Football Commissioner will have quite a bit of explaining to do....

Posted by: superfan1 | November 5, 2009 7:53 AM | Report abuse

In baseball my son received a chest-bump from his pitching coach after getting the team out of jam. I guess they should have kicked the coach off the team and suspended my son from pitching. Let's get real! This isn't T.O. stuff. Football is an emotional sport. And please what is wrong with pointing to the sky. I'm not a BR fan but I will be pulling for them in the next game. Hope the officials lose!

Posted by: recliner | November 5, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

This story ignores the fact that the officials met with each team before the game and specifically told them that chest bumping would not be tolerated. Both players and coaches were fully aware of the consequences before the game began.

Posted by: kaverengi1 | November 5, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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