Excessive celebration: The “look at me” dance
Posted by Dean Holden at February 16th, 2013
By Kevin Hartzell, 14 February 2013
As many of you know, I have been traveling out East watching quite a bit of hockey, mostly at the college level. I call home to Minnesota most days to talk with various friends in the hockey community. This last week, I talked to two NHL scouts in the Minnesota area who both mentioned the same issue to me: a trend in their opinion of excessive celebrating by high school players after scoring goals.
They both had witnessed more than one talented high school player doing a “look at me dance” after scoring a goal. This is not attractive in the eyes of these NHL scouts. In one case, they both were at the same game and saw the same player they had both gone specifically to watch put on an excessive celebration after scoring. This actually hurt the player’s reputation in their eyes. If what these NHL scouts are seeing is a trend, it is not a good trend.
We all know that there are an ever increasing number of influences these days from outside the home. Our children are increasingly being influenced by a culture that can reach out and touch our youngsters at about any time of the day or night. In some cases, the influences may not be what we want them to be. We are raising our new generation in a “look at me, look at what I did” culture. Back in the day, there was a value in society of doing good for the sake of goodness. We were taught not to look for acknowledgement for the good deeds we had done.
I admit I love the NFL, but too often we witness excessive celebrating, which for me can be almost sickening. I am not talking about teammates celebrating a big play together. I am talking about the “Did you see my great tackle?” dance. It is no longer good enough to make a great play in football; many players feel the need to have a dance that calls attention to their play. It calls attention I think to what they feel is their dominance at that moment. Is that really a value we want to reinforce in our culture and especially in our boys?
Nowadays of course, some post what they are doing almost hourly on Facebook, Twitter and other social media so everyone, or at least all of their “friends” can see what it is they are doing at any given time. I have always thought Facebook was a great concept, but for some it has gotten to be a narcissistic drug.
So if this is where our culture is going, why would these NHL scouts be so disappointed by what they are seeing in our developing hockey players? Are these kids not just reflecting our culture and its changing times?
These NHL scouts are disappointed because they understand what is important in our hockey culture. In hockey culture, THE ROOM – the culture of the locker room, the culture of the group of guys who make up the room – has as a basic value of love and sacrifice for each other. Nothing is to be about the individual; it is about the team of brothers in the locker room.
When I talk to folks who don’t understand hockey, I love to tell them about this great culture of brotherhood, about working for the teammate next to you unselfishly. Hockey is the ultimate team game. We preach teamwork. We preach brotherhood, sacrifice and a personal humbleness. It is what we expect of our players and coaches.
I have suggested to many a young aspiring hockey player to listen mindfully to the intermission or post-game NHL player interviews. What they might hear on the surface is a player simply redirecting praise to his teammates: “My linemates did all the work on that goal blah, blah. I was just in the right place at the right time.” While this may seem a road more humble, it is in fact because the player actually understands that indeed it was the efforts of his teammates that made his contribution possible. NHL players pretty much KNOW that it is because of their brother’s efforts that their efforts can even be recognized.
This humble brotherhood is at the heart of our game and make up the greatest of values in team sport. The teams that most embrace these values are often the ones that are the most successful. Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk with Detroit are also Selke Award nominees as the NHL’s best defensive forwards. We all know how good they are offensively. This kind of unselfish all-around team play by a team’s best players is a big factor in what makes for a great team with a great room with superior chemistry.
When these NHL scouts see really good players in Minnesota high school doing the “look at me dance” that has become acceptable in the NFL, they are disappointed as they see a hockey culture possibly going in the wrong direction. In the end, these NHL scouts are not looking for “look at me players;” they are looking for great talents who reflect the value of a great teammate.
When scoring goals, these NHL scouts would prefer to witness a player who looks back to the teammate who made the great pass or did the hard work and recognizing their “helper.” There is nothing more attractive than the player who scores and then immediately acknowledges and celebrates WITH his teammates. These NHL scouts are looking for winners, players and people that not only bring physical talents, but the ability to contribute to the chemistry of “the room.” The Room wins championships!
We coaches, teachers and parents need to reinforce these values to our young players as they move through the ranks. Believe me, for a team to be successful, it will take many positive efforts by many team members.
Scouts at each higher level will see the elements that make the team successful. Individuals will be recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the successful team. However, individuals will not be more positively recognized by performing a “look at me dance;” they might actually be looked upon less favorably. It is contrary to the very values we hold dear in our great sport of hockey.