The NFL is known for penalizing athletes when they “excessively” celebrate during a game.
Josh Norman, a cornerback for the Washington Redskins, was flagged recently after mimicking the shooting of a bow and arrow:
And Antonio Brown, a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has been repeatedly flagged and fined for dancing in the end zone after scoring a touchdown, such as this sexually suggestive move:
But as it turns out, the NFL has a reason for being so strict. According to ESPN, the league is simply thinking of the impact the game has on its young fans.
NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, told teams via a video this week, that the “uptick in taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties this season was meant to strengthen the example that the league sets for lower levels of football”:
“The bottom line is that there's many, many kids out there that are NFL fans that are playing football, and they see our athletes and they mimic what they do. We wouldn't want some of these things out on the youth football field. We have a high standard in the NFL, and we're going to maintain that standard.”
The video, which was also released to the public, told teams that the league isn't trying to take emotion out of the sport. However, the league wishes to remove “taunting” directed at the opponent; “gestures” that mimic a violent act or weaponry; “dances” that are “sexually suggestive”; and "choreographed celebrations that include more than one teammate, use the ball as a prop or include the player going to the ground.
Athletes are still allowed to spike the ball, bow, salute the crowd, and hug each other.
As imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it's best that the athletes young fans look up to are held to the highest standards.