Stop celebrating so early

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Stop celebrating so early

Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly blog which examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of Christian spirituality and sport.


“So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai”-Esther 7:10


I don’t think that I am being overanalytical when I complain about people who celebrate prematurely. It happens a lot, especially in sport. A footballer scores a goal and he rudely places his finger on his lips, suggesting that opposing fans need to shut their mouths. A sprinter is way ahead of his competitors and starts waving to the adoring crowd before crossing the finish line. I am not against celebrations, but can we wait until the match or race is over? Let me share a recent example.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is into the most exciting part of the season: the playoffs. In a recent qualifying game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves to determine the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference, the Lakers scored a 3-point basket to break a 95-95 tie. That basket made the score 98-95 with only 1.1 seconds left in the game. Some of the Lakers players celebrated, in my view, with a bit of bravado and a touch of arrogance. Complacency set in.

What happened next? A Lakers player then fouled an opponent with 0.1 seconds left! With the ensuing three free throws the game was tied. Yep. Somehow, the Lakers botched that lead with just over one second on the clock. Although the Lakers team won the game in overtime, it probably should not have needed the extra five minutes. Premature celebration? Overconfidence? The nature of sport? You take your pick.

You see, a huge part of success is maintaining humility while you are on a high. It is tempting to get carried away in the moment and forget that life is more like a marathon than a sprint. Therefore, we cannot underestimate the twists and turns that are a normal part of our existence. This takes poise, discipline and maturity.

It reminds me of what happened with Haman and Mordecai in the Old Testament book of Esther quoted above. In short, Haman had a sinister plot to eliminate the Jews and part of this plan involved erecting gallows in which he sought to hang Mordecai, a man who had earlier acted favourably towards the king. The tables were turned, and the very gallows Haman prepared for Mordecai were used to hang Haman. It’s a fascinating story of divine destiny thwarting human hubris. Take a read if you can. a2test


Embrace the victories of life without forgetting their ultimate source.

If you were inspired by this blog, please consider sharing it with one other person today. To learn more about these and other related themes that promote the cultivation of an integrated inner self, read UNBEATABLE! which is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Kyle

    Excellent message Tyrone, I believe that we have to find the balance of it all. I believe in celebrating Moments but not losing sight of the ultimate picture. My team Arsenal is at the top of the EPL and I celebrate every goal and every game. I’m not going to wait for the end to celebrate because I believe life is made up of moments for a reason. I also won’t over celebrate as the job is not yet done. I believe in sport and life in general we need to find balance.

    1. J. Tyrone Marcus

      Thanks for that balanced perspective, Kyle. Best wishes to the Gunners as well! (Coming from a Manchester United supporter!)

  2. Allan Cunningham

    Point taken…

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