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Revisiting the danger of overly-emphatic goal celebrations

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After the injury to Nicolai Muller yesterday, it’s time to tone down those celebrations

Hamburger SV v FC Augsburg - Bundesliga Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images

Every time Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores, a roller coaster of emotions overwhelms Dortmund fans. The excitement of another goal by the Bundesliga’s most prolific scorer is immediately followed by fright when Aubameyang does his trademark backflip celebration.

An array of horrible things can go wrong in that short two seconds span during Aubameyang’s flip. If he mistimes his jump, he can land on his head and sustain a concussion or worse, a broken neck. It happened not too long ago in India where Peter Biaksangzuala attempted a backflip celebration and broke his neck, resulting in his death.

He could also land wrong on his knee and sustain an ACL tear. Brazilian player Maurides Roque Junior suffered this fate when he his knee buckled upon sticking the backflip, resulting in a sprained knee which sidelined him for 10 months.

The most recent case of celebration injury occurred yesterday. Less than 10 minutes into the Bundesliga season, Hamburg striker Nicolai Muller put his team on top. In the joy that followed, a spinning Muller landed wrong on his knee, rupturing his ACL - an injury that will sideline the striker for seven months.

The celebration itself was poor, and the outcome even worse for a team that is already forecasted by prognosticators to finish near the drop zone. The injury not only affects the striker Muller’s season and perhaps career, but his team as well. Not to beat a dead horse, but the stupidity and selfishness of celebrations must be stopped.

It’s not just an issue in soccer, but in all sports. While they may just be “freak accidents”, they can happen at any time no matter how harmless a celebration may seem.

Here’s an example. The classic leaping fist pump most footballers use to celebrate a goal can even be dangerous. Take Bill Gramatica, former NFL kicker for the Arizona Cardinals. After nailing a field goal in the first quarter, Gramatica attemped the leaping fist pump, only to end up landing wrong and clutching his knee. The rookie tore his ACL and his team ended up losing the game.

It looked like a fairly routine celebration, but ended in disaster. Which just goes to show, you never know when something like that can occur, even if it’s been done countless times before.

So how would one responsibly celebrate a goal? Simple. Run to the supporters’ section, kiss the badge on your jersey, a simple fistbump, airplane arms, maybe perform a knee slide, do the John Brooks from the 2014 World Cup.

Or better yet, if you’re losing, don’t celebrate.

The Nicolai Muller incident should serve as a reminder to professional athletes everywhere that overly-emphatic celebrations can be dangerous and are harmful to both the player and the team. While they can’t be outlawed, it should go without saying that doing something incredibly stupid and over-the-top to celebrate a goal is unnecessary. The goal itself should be enough.

Now I’m not anti-celebration, but toning things a down a bit shouldn’t be that difficult.