The Los Angeles Dodgers have long since been eliminated from the MLB playoffs, but the controversy they sparked and debate they left behind is still echoing through the sports world.
Since they clinched the NL West back in September and celebrated by swimming in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ pool, the Dodgers were the epicenter of controversy in sports.
They represented a team that went too far in terms of celebrating, showboating and rubbing it in their opponents’ faces.
Their example has shown that there is a fine line in the sand when it comes to showboating, and it is sometimes vague but also important.
While we might not put a huge emphasis on sportsmanship, the general sports fanbase does have a level of tolerance that, once violated, can alienate them from a player or a team.
Admiring long home runs, lounging in other team’s pools, over-the-top celebrations and ridiculous on-base antics all drove a divide between many fans and the Dodgers.
They became the new evil empire in baseball, and it wasn’t all because they paid mountains of money to compile their roster.
Here at ASU, fans should be grateful that our teams don’t follow the Dodgers’ example.
You didn’t see any egregious showboating in the Sun Devils’ upset victory over Washington on Saturday.
Sure, there was some celebrating, but that’s different.
There is a distinct break between celebrating and showboating. ASU’s teams all stay behind that line, they respect the unwritten rules of sport that you don’t rub it in the other team’s face.
Fans have always despised players who turned their spotlight into an opportunity to flaunt their successes.
Baseball players who watch their home run shots for too long are usually less popular that the players that jump out of the box and race around the base paths regardless of the distance their home run sails.
Football players who come up with unique and exciting touchdown dances are given minimal style points, but when it goes too far and showboating turns into dropping the ball on the 1-yard line, a la DeSean Jackson for the sake of a celebration, fans get driven away.
Competition breeds necessary tension that can come out as excessive celebrations when good things happen.
But respect is mandatory on the field and off it.
Players owe it to each other and owe it to their teams to behave well, to restrain their excitement out of deference to their opponents.
So when Yasiel Puig thrusts his hands into the air and stands in the batters box for several seconds after a home run, that crosses a line.
When the entire Dodgers roster cannonballs into the Diamondbacks pool, that crosses a line.
I, for one, am very grateful the Sun Devils don’t pull any similar stunts.
From the gridiron to the diamond to the hardwood, ASU athletics abides by the line of necessary respect in sports.
While showboating isn’t as prevalent in college sports as it seems to be at the professional level, it doesn’t take long to find examples of players ignoring the line between respectful celebration and purposeful taunts.
Johnny Manziel, quarterback for Texas A&M, celebrated his first touchdown of the season by rubbing imaginary bills between his fingers as if to thumb his nose at the NCAA, the body that suspended him for the first half of A&M’s season opener for allegedly taking cash for signatures.
Taylor Kelly isn’t running around mocking the NCAA after touchdowns. Will Sutton isn’t rubbing it in the other team’s face after a big sack.
Sure they celebrate, sure they’re excited, but the Sun Devils don’t seem to disrespect their opponents, even in moments when they enjoy their success.
Sports is about winning. That’s all fans seem to care about.
But the past few months as the Dodgers drew ire and criticism from across the nation, we were reminded that fans also care about respect.
ASU shouldn’t take its teams for granted, and it shouldn’t take the respectful attitude of our student athletes for granted. In the modern world, that attitude is becoming increasingly rare.
When it’s so easy to cross that line and showboat, the Sun Devils remain firmly behind the line and for that, fans should love them even more.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ICBeck21