Baker Mayfield Sparks College Football Etiquette Debate

by Marcus Johnson


Navy running back scores touchdown. (Photo: Courtesy of pixabay.com)

College sports have become just as popular, if not more popular during certain portions of the year, than pro sports. College athletes are often held to similar standards as professional athletes without receiving many of the benefits.

These benefits take both physical and abstract forms. One such obvious benefit is the pay. According to the NCAA, it is against the rules for college athletes to be stipend for their participation.

This is certainly a hotly debated topic that would deserve it’s own article another day. The basis of this article is the issue of college athletes not being allowed to celebrate like the big time athletes.

This comes off the heels of the very controversial Oklahoma Sooners’ QB Baker Mayfield.  As one of college Football’s star QBs the magnifying glass is always on him.

He stirred headlines after performing an unruly gesture against Kansas after a scored Touchdown. He turned to his opposition and grabbed his crotch while trash talking.

The Kansas team captains opted to not shake hands with Mayfield during the pregame coin toss. A handshake is a tradition amongst captains. Their actions prompted Mayfield to retaliate with the crotch grab later in the game.

After the game Mayfield was stripped of his captaincy and lost his starting job for the remainder of his tenure as an Oklahoma Sooner.

Many believe this is a harsh overreaction while others believe his behavior as a college athlete is deserving of the punishment. Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch was once fined $11,500 for grabbing his crotch as he jumped into the end zone for a touchdown.

These are certainly extreme examples of obscene gestures masquerading as celebrations. Then are are cases such as Missouri WR Damarea Crockett having a touchdown taken away for an excessive celebration call.

The celebration in question was a uncontested dive into the end zone. Many don’t even recognize this a celebration at all. It is especially hard to compare an act like this to the Minnesota Vikings playing duck duck goose after a touchdown this season.

“Well I think if it’s not too excessive they should be allowed to celebrate, being a former player you get excited to play on game day and some of these players are going pro,” said former Pleasantville high school football player Booker McDaniel.

The NFL in past years was given the nickname of the ‘no fun league’ for outlawing celebrations. Fortunately they rectified this by encouraging celebrations and giving guidelines so players can avoid excessiveness.

College athletes grow up idolizing many active NFL receivers. And like kids at their local park imitating a celebration makes you feel closer to those you idolize.

The NCAA rulebook states that a player must “immediately” return the football to the official after a score. It defines excessive celebration as “any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player (or players) attempts to focus attention upon himself (or themselves).”

This can be disheartening to college players watching their favorite receivers play hide and seek after a touchdown, i.e. JuJu Smith-Schuster. “I think the should be allowed to celebrate as long as it doesn’t come off as offensive,” said avid football fan and WCC student Joey Diaz, he added.

“No racial slurs or anything vulgar, If it’s a long touchdown or a bat flip thats cool. But if you do what Mayfield did, that’s uncalled for.” The NCAA is notorious for their unflinching rules.

Earlier this year a D1 kicker by the name of Donald De La Haye was booted from his team because he was getting paid for making skits and workout videos on his youtube. The NCAA doesn’t like anyone breaking their rules no matter the circumstances.

Unfortunately for the athletes the NCAA don’t share Booker McDaniel’s take on the matter. “It’s all about having fun,” said McDaniel. “And that’s all the players are doing when they celebrate, having fun.”

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