Long before the TV is turned on and the spectacle of sport is broadcast around the world, long before the ball boys show up, the grass is cut, the lines drawn or the referees show up, there is sheer hard work by the athletes. Miles are run, hills are climbed, weights are lifted, balls are hit and putts are practiced over and over and over again. Almost all the great athletes we cheer for these days have done little else for every single day of their adult lives except for practice their sport. The days of being a carpenter for your day job and hitting boundaries at the weekend at Lords are long gone. When such hard work results in success on the playing field, sometimes the celebration is spontaneous and ecstatic. Yet at other times, celebration has become tradition and as much a part of winning as playing the game. Here are a few of my favourite and while photographs might not do them justice, it was not possible to source videos for all of them.
"Rock the baby" celebration. Introduced in the 1992 Football world cup by Babeto of Brazil, the original celebration was probably meant to celebrate his impending child. It has since become mandatory for any expecting father scoring a goal.
"The Dunk" was first performed as a revenge act by NY Giants defensemen to legendary coach Bill Parcels in the 1980s, for the previous weeks training woes. It has become the ultimate end of game celebration in American Football- from the pro game to children's leagues, whether a scorching match in the heat of Florida or a -30 degress bone chilling duel on the frozen plains of Minnesota. Here in the picture is Patriots super-bowl winning coach Bill Billicheck getting dunked.
Shirt over face- Some feats are too good to be believed and in football you find goals a plenty scored from some unbelievable positions. When the adrenalin is high, you see some players do the shirt over face blindfold and run like crazy. Here, we see Fabrizio Ravanelli in mid-celebration.
Biting the trophy- Done in the old days to check coins for authenticity, Rafa has without fail bit every single award he has won. The move seemed to be gaining popularity as medal winners in other sports at the Beijing Olympics were seen doing the same.
Hats on ice- When a player scores a hat trick in ice-hockey, it is the custom for the crowd to throw their head gear onto the playing surface in respect. It still happens and is one of the moving sights in sports if you ever witness one live.
Boxing with the flag. Tim Cahill of Everton and Australia started the tradition of running over to the corner flag and boxing with it after scoring a goal. When asked why he did it, he's supposed to have answered "well the flag started it".
The chest bump- originally started in basketball, the jumping and thumping celebration has spread to all American sports. Its the adrenalin filled version of a high five.
The fist pump- Perhaps an old fashioned simple way of channeling a testosterone surge after a moment of achievement, it has been trade marked by Tiger Woods after sinking long unbelievable putts.
Doing the Airplane- Shoaib Akhtar has arguably done more than his share of celebration but when he's at his deadly best, he never lets a wicket go uncelebrated without doing the airplane.
The Ssshhh- Here we see Thiery Henry silencing the opposition through one of his trademark goals. Very popular with footballers when scoring on away games in front of boisterous audiences.