Well it appears as though Tim Tebow has trademarked “Tebowing,” but is this watershed moment of adding legal specs to a sports celebration a good sports marketing move — or the opening of Pandoras Box? Before I delve into this question, let me first be very clear that I have no problem with Tebow (or anyone for that matter) who wants to demonstrate their religious beliefs through physical movements, poses, or any other means. I say this as my concern about trademarking a “signature move” (like Tebowing) has nothing to do with religion, but instead everything to do with the future when other athletes look to trademark their own celebration dance, pre-game pump-up, or touchdown pass (I’m looking at you, Superman/Aaron Rogers). From a sport psychology perspective, do show-stopping move help or hurt a team’s chances for success?
Ironically, I recently wrote about NFL dances and celebrations gone out of control, with my concern being centered around how “showy” and “look at me” the game has become. Instead of seeing high-fives or even the spiking of the ball after a touchdown, today’s football players often engage in over-the-top, eccentric, and sometimes game-delaying antics and rituals that could be argued create a “me” rather than “we” team mindset. Even worse, these demonstrations seem to be occurring more frequently and after odd (i.e. piling on late to a gang tackle that the player himself missed a few yards earlier) or expected and routine plays (i.e. simply making a normal tackle the player was expected to make). Now with the latest Tim Tebow trademark move, should we brace ourselves for even more players looking to assert legal rights pertaining to their own signature moves??!
Conservative fans will argue that these histrionic rituals players perform lack dignity, class, and sportsmanship — as well as delay the game and often lead to celebration penalties. These fans long for the days of seeing Barry Sanders simply hand the ball to the referee after scoring a touchdown rather than having to endure the various “look at me” gyrations increasingly more players are doing today. Will Tebow’s decision to legally protect “Tebowing” open the floodgates to more players guarding against the use and abuse of their personal moves?
Of course, the other side of the argument posited by more free-thinking fans centers around the excitement and enthusiasm experienced in sports, and how it is only natural for players to want to exercise their positive energy through dances, poses, and various other show-stopping moves. For these folks, the game is actually enhanced and better because of celebration demonstrations.
So “Tebowing” appears to now be off limits to anyone without a card-carrying “Tebowing” license, but will these trademarks end here? And will these trademarks only be pursued by professional football players, or will college (and high school?) athletes begin working on their own moves to one day trademark? And if this occurs, will games that would ordinarily last around 3 hours morph into day-long events consisting of more on-field demonstrations than actual football play?
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