Arnold Palmer hurls his visor skyward after shooting 65 in the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open, to complete a remarkable comeback. The visor is now an exhibit at the USGA museum in New Jersey

In the moment: Celebrations in sports

In Kingdom’s “Celebration” issue last fall we took the brief literally by remembering some of the finest sports celebrations ever caught on camera. In narrowing down a broad range of moments, we have established what it takes to create a great, memorable celebration: passion, spontaneity and drama. Failing that, ski goggles, plastic sheeting and a life preserver will do

Honestly, sporting celebrations are not what they used to be. Case in point: baseball locker rooms nearly every time a team wins—even something not quite World Series-worthy. The poor backroom staff cover the lockers in plastic sheets so cleanup is easier, then the players put on logoed ski goggles to protect their eyes, photographers are assembled and drinks are carefully arranged on a table—and only then can the players spray beer and bubbly all over each other, with all the spontaneity of the Staten Island Ferry.

It’s embarrassing. Even worse is that corporate sponsors have stepped in to drag sports’ celebrations even lower. Apart from the goggles we now have to endure the beer supplier’s name printed all over the plastic-sheeted backdrop. Don’t even start on the choreographed touchdown celebrations in today’s NFL. Is this Dancing With the Stars or football?

It was great when golfer Amy Alcott won the Dinah Shore (now ANA Inspiration) in 1991 at Rancho Mirage and jumped into Poppie’s Pond. She was the first and it was emotional, funny, and unexpected. “It was just a moment when I embraced my happiness,” Alcott said later. But these days the winner must get wet whether she likes it or not—and whether she can swim or not. In 1998, Pat Hurst waded rather than drown. In 1999, Dottie Pepper jumped in but surfaced with an ear infection, then a year later told Karrie Webb to take antibiotics after jumping in. Stacy Lewis’ mother fractured her leg in 2011 after joining in the jump, and that finally prompted not a cancellation of the ritual, but the transformation of the pond into a swimming pool, complete with chlorine, sponsored signage and attendants waiting with sponsor-branded towels. How spontaneous.

Traditions are great, and they often begin with spontaneous moments. But some celebrations… Well, they’re as fleeting as the victory, and that’s okay. Trying to recreate those flashes of brilliance that so move us when they appear, like shooting stars, is like telling the same joke over and over again. No matter how great it was the first time, there’s only one first time. The good news? New stars and new victories await, and with them will come new celebrations. Get your ski goggles ready.

Bobby Jones

July 2, 1930, Bobby Jones receives a ticker tape parade down Broadway, New York City, on his return from winning The [British] Amateur and The [British] Open. Jones was halfway to completing his historic grand slam that year. There is so much to love in this picture: the smiling Jones in his timeless three-piece suit, the genuine ticker tape, the car, the Pathé News truck, the crowds and the Broadway backdrop…

Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins flies through the air after scoring the winning, overtime goal against the St. Louis Blues to clinch the 1970 Stanley Cup. The dramatic air time was in fact thanks to Orr being tripped up by the stick of the Blues’ Noel Picard. This moment at the Boston Garden was captured by the Boston Herald’s Ray Lussier and the club has since immortalized it with a statue.

Brandi Chastain

Brandi Chastain caused a stir at the 1999 Women’s World Cup final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The right-footed player scored the winning penalty against China with her left foot and removed her shirt as she sunk to her knees. A sports bra contract would soon follow.

John McEnroe

The moment John McEnroe defeated Sweden’s Bjorn Borg to win Wimbledon for the first time, on the 4th of July 1981. Borg had defeated McEnroe over five sets in the 1980 final, which many still consider the greatest match of all time. McEnroe won in four sets in ’81 to embellish a rivalry that became known as “Fire and Ice” due to the players’ contrasting personalities.

Arnold PalmerJohn McEnroe
Buy Issue #47 now