Duke Williams was penalized for crawling through this sign. Under a new CFL rule, he wouldn't be.

The CFL has long been known for some wacky celebrations, from the Calgary Stampeders’ human bobsled to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Duck, Duck, Goose game to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ use of a sideline boat to the Ottawa Redblacks’ limbo.

A couple this past week created some controversy, though, with many fans bashing the league after they penalized the Edmonton Eskimos’ Duke Williams for crawling through A-frame sideline signage with his teammates but didn’t penalize the Bombers’ Darvin Adams for using a TSN camera as a prop. Well, the league has now made an unusual midseason rule change to no longer prohibit most celebrations with props.

First, though, here are the two celebrations in question:

It should be noted that this also led to a funny exchange between Williams and Booster Juice, the smoothie chain on the sign:

The rule change makes sense, as a fun moment like that isn’t something you really want the league stomping on. Especially if Adams’ celebration with a much more expensive prop wasn’t penalized. The CFL’s change will now allow prop celebrations “provided they are not hidden in a player’s uniform or the goal post assembly [so no return of Spider-Man], they are not demeaning or discriminatory in any way, they do not simulate the firing of a weapon and they do not unduly delay the game,” and that all seems logical. The change also specifies that both Williams’ and Adams’ celebrations are fine under the new rule. CFL executives explained in the league’s release their goal is to let players and fans have fun where possible:

“The stakes in our league are very high and the intensity level is second to none,” said Commissioner Randy Ambrosie. “But at the end of the day, football is a game and it should be fun for players and fun for fans.”

…“This change came after discussions held by the Commissioner, presidents from the league’s member clubs and on-field officials and supervisors,” said Darren Hackwood, Senior Director of Officiating for the CFL.

“Everyone involved wants to reach the right balance between giving players an opportunity to express their joy and creativity and maintaining the pace and sportsmanship of our game.”

That feels like a smart change, and a reasonable one. They’re leaving open the possibility of cracking down on any celebrations that delay the game or are offensive, and they even included a “use at your own risk” element to cover cameras (“players who choose to use a prop such as a hand-held television camera or other private property assume liability should that property be damaged”). But the overall sense here is loosening up, and not punishing behavior that players and fans enjoy. That’s a good approach, and leagues with more stringent celebration rules like the NFL and NCAA could perhaps learn from it.


About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.