Athletes face a number of risks when they take the field of play, and most of these risks occur during actual gameplay. When they take on these risks and succeed in crucial moments, athletes typically like to express their joy through acts of celebration. As time goes on, players continue to evolve their methods of celebration, often in an acrobatic manner. On certain occasions, circumstances have conspired to create moments of great joy immediately followed by injury.
Some of these injuries have had career and life threatening consequences. In addition to personal pain and suffering, they must often endure ridicule because of the manner of their injury. These athletes must then return to health and once again compete for their spot in the team. For those lucky enough to recover to full health, it is a long and difficult road to travel.
With the evolution of touchdown dances and goal celebrations, players are integrating more acrobatic feats into their celebrations. Once upon a time, Robbie Keane’s cartwheels were considered flamboyant, but now, they are decidedly conservative. Players attempting to celebrate with their teammates can be injured during their enthusiasm. Achieving greatness in sport is already difficult enough, celebrating responsibly, yet in style, can help prevent teammate and self-inflicted injuries.
15 Jeff Baker – Baseball
A high five may seem like a fairly innocuous celebration. It seems like it has been around forever, despite only being popularized in the late 1970s. However, the high five has varying degrees of intensity and enthusiasm. Jeff Baker was on the receiving end of a particularly enthusiastic high five, from a teammate he refused to name, that left him with a sprained thumb. Thumb injuries are particularly important in baseball, because it left Baker unable to grip a bat. Baker was out only a few days with the injury, but it does raise awareness on the dangers of high fiving.
14 Chris Coghlan – Baseball
Following an extra innings walk-off win against the Braves in 2010, Chris Coghlan was eager to help teammate Wes Helms celebrate. While Helms was giving a post-game interview, Coghlan had constructed a pie made from shaving cream and attempted the very difficult jumping pie to the face move. Helms ducked the attempted pie to the face, which caused Coghlan to land awkwardly in the process. Coghlan actually tore a meniscus in his left knee, which cost him a stint on the disabled list.
13 Nneka Ogwumike – Basketball
During a close contest between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Tulsa Shock, Nneka Ogwumike made a crucial layup that gave LA the lead in the first overtime period. In the ensuing celebration, she was head-butted by her teammate Candace Parker. The head-butt left Nneka with a bloodied eye, but she was able to return to the court after receiving treatment. Eventually, the Sparks were able to secure the win in double overtime.
12 Joe Ansbro – Rugby
Rugby is a rough sport, possibly the most physically demanding and dangerous sport in the world. Typically, the risks occur during actual play while grown men attempt to physically manhandle one another. Following Scotland’s upset victory over Australia; they celebrated in typical rugby fashion, with a massive jumping dogpile. In their enthusiasm, both Joe Ansbro and Alasdair Strokosch attempted to jump on top of the pile at the same time. They collided in mid-air, with Ansbro taking a head-butt to the face from Strokosch. Ansbro was left with a bloodied eye, which in rugby terms means he was pretty much unscathed.
11 Alex Montgomery – Football
Players have been jumping into their teammates to celebrate touchdown passes for years. It is such a common occurrence during a football game, that fans don’t usually regard it as an elaborate celebration. Alex Montgomery was celebrating his 2nd career touchdown catch, when he jumped into his teammates. Montgomery landed awkwardly and suffered a torn ACL as a result of the celebration gone awry. One year later, Montgomery has still not returned to action for the Kentucky Wildcats.
10 Thomas Levet – Golf
Thomas Levet was on top of the world as he celebrated his Alstom French Open victory, which was one of the defining victories of his career. In order to commemorate the occasion, Levet made the decision to jump into the lake in front of the 18th hole along with his manager Patrice Barquez. As the pair jumped into the lake, Levet landed awkwardly, causing a fracture of his shin bone. As a result of the injury, Levet has vowed that he will no longer jump in lakes to celebrate his victories.
9 Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Soccer
Even the mighty Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not immune to celebratory injury. After scoring a spectacular goal while playing for AC Milan in 2010, Zlatan enthusiastically fist pumped the air to celebrate. The Swedish superstar clutched his elbow following the fist pump, and fell to the ground in agony. Thankfully, Zlatan was able to finish the match and helped his team secure the 1-0 victory.
8 Alex Poythress – Basketball
Kentucky has developed a winning reputation in college basketball, thanks in large part to a plethora of highly touted recruits. Alex Poythress was an underrated member of this past season’s NCAA Tournament runner-up team. During Kentucky’s Final Four victory celebration, Poythress’ leg was wedged underneath a triumphant pile-up. Cameras captured Alex writhing in pain as his teammates celebrated on top of his leg, and he was spotted icing his leg following the game. However, Poythress managed to avoid serious injury and played 17 minutes in the Championship game.
7 Bill Gramatica – Football
Bill Gramatica’s is the poster child for celebratory injuries. During the first half of a game between the Cardinals and Giants, Gramatica nailed a 43-yard field goal to give the Cardinals an early lead. He celebrated the occasion with a jumping fist pump, which he probably should have practiced. Gramatica landed awkwardly, tearing his ACL, which is a devastating injury for an NFL kicker. Thankfully, Gramatica was able to make a full recovery and played four more years in the NFL.
6 Stephen Tulloch – Football
Stephen Tulloch captured NFL headlines earlier this season, when he injured himself attempting to imitate Aaron Rodgers’ “Discount Double Check” celebration. The celebration has evolved from simply strapping on the title belt, to a national advertising campaign, and now to Tulloch’s latest version, which is unlikely to be repeated. Tulloch suffered a torn ACL during the celebration and will miss the remainder of the season. Tulloch has defended the celebration and said that he does not regret celebrating in that manner.
5 Paulo Diogo – Soccer
Paulo Diogo suffered a particularly gruesome injury while celebrating a goal scored by his teammate Jean Beausejour. Diogo unselfishly played a ball to Beausejour instead of finishing the opportunity himself. Diogo then decided to climb the fence surrounding the pitch, in order to celebrate with fans. While climbing down from the fence, Diogo’s wedding ring was caught on it and caused the degloving of his ring finger. Eventually doctors were forced to amputate part of his finger, and Diogo has become a cautionary tale of why not to hang on fences.
4 Maurides Roque Junior – Soccer
Following a spectacular headed goal for Brazilian club Internacional, Maurides Roque Junior decided to celebrate with some acrobatics to celebrate his first career goal. After scoring, he ran an additional 30 yards before attempting a round-off backflip, which he stomped with aplomb. As he attempted to stand from the feat, his knee gave way and caused him to be stretchered off the pitch. Maurides’ sprained knee ligaments caused him to miss ten months of competition, but he has since returned to the pitch.
3 Kendry Morales – Baseball
Walk-off win celebrations can often be intimidating for the players that have performed the walk-off. Kendry Morales crushed a walk-off grand slam for the Angels and ran towards home plate; his teammates surrounded the area to celebrate with him. Morales leapt into the air to finish in style, but landed off balance, which caused him to break his leg. The celebration immediately became less joyous with Morales being carted off the field, appearing to be in considerable agony.
2 Gus Frerotte – Football
Gus Frerotte is another name synonymous with self-inflicted injury. He scored a touchdown in the first half of a 1997 game against the St. Louis Rams, and celebrated by head-butting a cement wall covered in padding. Predictably, the wall did not move, and Frerotte immediately fell to the ground with an injury. After being rushed to a local hospital, he was diagnosed with a sprained neck. The one-time Pro Bowl quarterback is now another cautionary tale of how not to celebrate.
1 Peter Biaksangzuala – Soccer
This week saw a great tragedy in world soccer. Peter Biaksangzuala attempted to recreate Miroslav Klose’s flip celebration following a goal he scored for Bethlehem Vengthlang FC. Biaksangzuala landed on his head, which caused severe damage to his spinal cord. This injury eventually led to his death a few days later because of the significant trauma. He was only 23-years-old and was celebrating a rare goal from his defensive midfield position. His club will retire his #21 jersey number to honor his memory.
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