There are a lot of good reasons people play sports — for the exercise, the camaraderie, and the joys of competition. Playing sports allows your mind to slip free from everything else in life except the task on hand. And as the saying goes, it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.
But let's be honest — winning is more fun than losing. There is nothing like finding glory in sports, whether it's from making a sliding catch, a diving block, a brilliant throw, or an extraordinary hit. That glory is rich enough when it happens in your average kids' game or adult sports league, but when it happens at the highest levels of sport, it can be utterly life-changing. These are the moments that end up on the cover of magazines.
But what happens when those moments go wrong? What happens when athletes celebrate too early? In games of inches and milliseconds, even a slightly mistimed start can have catastrophic consequences. And in these days of YouTube and ubiquitous digital cameras, those moments can live on forever in embarrassing perpetuity. We've trolled through the video bins of the interwebs and assembled these nine videos of athlete's celebrating too soon. Enjoy!
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During an NBL basketball game (a European professional league), KK Partizan, a Serbian team, thought they had the game in the bag against rival Cibona when they drained a bucket with just 0.6 seconds left on the clock. They were celebrating their assumed victory on court when Cibona used its last sliver of time to throw up a desperation shot from beyond half court.
It went in.
Watch this video to see the spectacle as KK Partizan rollercoasters through the extreme emotions of winning and soul crushing, stupid defeat.
This clip illustrates the importance of good counting skills. Race leader Riccardo Russo thought he was pulling into the finish line for the win when he was actually one full lap away.
In this game of eight-man high school football, one player decided to punctuate his successful touchdown catch with a front flip into the end zone. Everything went fine and he stuck the flip. Problem was, he started 10 yards out from scoring a touchdown. Derp.
I admit to not watching a lot of rugby, but one rule that I have picked up on is that to score a goal, a player has to run in and touch the ball to the end zone. In this clip, one prematurely-celebrating player is artfully tackled away from scoring one for his team.
While competing at the 2010 Inline Roller Speed Skating World Championships in Guarne, Colombia, Speed skater Alex Cujavante thought his lead in a medal race to be so insurmountable that he felt safe to pull up for a bit of showboating. That slack cost him the finish line and allowed the second-place skater to hustle by, crossing over the line by not much more than a skate's width.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson brilliant pulled down a long pass in a game against the Cowboys but then soured his glory by casually dropping the ball, mid-stride, right before crossing the goal line. Since the ball never cross the goal line plane, it was ruled down inside the one yard mark instead of the touchdown it would have been if Jackson had held onto the ball for .10 seconds longer. This is kind of a hing for this guy.
It's hard to feel bad for CLF player Chris Williams after he arrogantly spun around to face his pursuers and jog backwards into the end zone. He did not factor in the hunger of his opponents and was brought down just shy of scoring, tainting his 117-yard run.
The thing about soccer penalty kicks is that the odds are solidly stacked in favor of the kicker. Goalies will often just pick one side or the other to dive to as the kicker makes contact with the ball. Soccer goals are big, the penalty spot is not far, and skilled kickers can, this side of the occasional flub, put the ball anywhere they choose, so when a goalie does manage to pull off a save, it's a big deal.
So I'm more willing to sprinkle some forgiveness on the goalie in this video who celebrated his save just as the ball slowly spun into the net. Just a little forgiveness, though; he still should have taken charge of the ball.
Oklahoma basketball player Stephen Pledger had a wide open shot for three points to tie the game with just a few seconds to play against Missouri. He caught the pass, put up the shot, and struck his victory pose. And watched it bounce out as the buzzer rang down. Cameras caught the small but embarrassing moment.
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