Today it was released that the state of showboating in sports will forever be changed with the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick registering his touchdown celebration pose with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The pose, in which he kisses his bicep, is now known as "Kaepernicking". He officially registered the pose on January 14, and plans on using the image in a clothing line. Now while that is a great marketing tool, ala Michael Jordan and the Jordan Flight Logo, it does reveal the ugly side of celebratory moments. No longer will they be considered joyous and happy, but more profitable and greedy.
Will opposing players from this point forward be held liable if they mock a particular players celebration as a taunting gesture? In short, yes, Kaepernick would own the rights to it. The reason that no one is sued for copyright infringement in the case of the Jordan Logo or the NBA Logo is that they are not owned by one individual. Nike owns the Jordan Logo and the National Basketball Association owns the famous Jerry West silhouette logo.
And what is a touchdown celebration like Kaepernicking, when it comes down to brass tacks? It’s showboating, that’s all it is; it’s a form of showboating. Why would anyone choose to patent or trademark a part of sports that is ultimately deemed unsportsmanlike? Showboating has been a black eye in all sports for a long time now, from choreographed end zone dances to intricate routines after a pitcher strikes out the side. It gets this lack luster sheen from the fact that it celebrates individual accomplishments rather than team goals. When Kaepernick kisses his bicep, he’s not implying that his team is amazing, he’s implying that he is indeed strong and that his individual talents are great.
Showboating used to only rear its head when something really dramatic happened. Like when Kirk Gibson fist pumped his way around first base after hitting a homerun off of Dennis Eckersley in the first game of the 1988 World Series. His fist pumping could be construed as showboating, but he didn’t do it with every home run during his career. And what about Michael Jordan hitting "The Shot" over Craig Ehlo at the buzzer in game five of the 1989 Eastern Conference Finals, in which he leaped into the air and dramatically fist pumped to the Cleveland crowd. Again that’s a form of showboating, cause contrary to what most people think, Jordan fist pumped like 20 more times after he landed from his leap. Thing is Jordan didn’t fist pump with every scored basket. He reserved those acts as did Gibson and many others in that era of competitor to specific moments.
Because you pose in the endzone or have a very specific routine for every first down or touchdown, it does not make you great. Legacies and Hall of Fame careers are built not purchased through show. Case in point, Ickey Woods, every football fan remembers Ickey Woods. Why, it wasn’t because he was great, it isn’t because he’s in the Hall of Fame. It is because he had a dance he performed after every touchdown, the "Ickey Shuffle". Though it’s just a guess, wouldn’t it be logical for Woods to have wanted to be remembered for the talents he possessed rather than the antics he performed.
And to prove that showboating is strictly an individual based celebration. Notice how many players with individual celebratory programs still release the routine regardless of what the score is. Whether they are up by 20 or down by 20, these guys still but on the song and dance. Here is probably something they have never heard; showboating is meaningless and stupid if your team is losing. You see it all the time with wide receivers, even when they’re down by four touchdowns, if a wide receiver makes a first down they pop right back up and strike their most fearsome first down pose. It is completely redundant, and so many with routines fall into that category, Kaepernick and Cam Newton and tight ends that dunk over the goal post.
Newton is probably the worst offender of this practice. He did his Superman pose every time he scored a touchdown. Luckily he didn’t score a whole lot of touchdowns. But it’s bothersome that he still did his "performance" when the team finished 7-9 on the regular season and did not make the playoffs. Even more, they only beat two teams during the regular season with a winning record. At least Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews are cleared for performing their celebratory routines because they made the playoffs this year. Oh, and they have won a Super Bowl in the past, and Rodgers has won an MVP before, and Matthews ranked in the top five in sacks this year, and the two of them have been to the playoffs each year since 2009. They have obviously earned the right to their rituals, Newton on the other hand has only won a handful of games, has never competed in the playoffs, and isn’t even ranked in the top 15 of total quarterback rating for the 2012 regular season. The only one that should be doing a Superman pose is…well…Superman.
When you look at the great players in the sport of football, the legends never showboated or over celebrated individual success or spent that much time in making sure their success on one play was note worthy. The great Jerry Rice hardly ever even spiked the ball; he typically just dropped it in the end zone and went over to his teammates. And Joe Montana never thought to have his classic arms raised in celebration immortalized by staking claim to its rights. Even Barry Sanders, his celebration was so low key that he just handed the ball to the referee with each score. You do not need hoopla to be great in the league, greatness comes in production. But in the millennium of money over stature, it just might be hard to get away from.
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