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LET KIDS CELEBRATE AND SAVE FLAGS FOR REAL PENALTIES

The TV asks, "Are you old school?"

My answer is automatic: Sure, I'm old school.

I don't like it when colleges play football games on Sunday. God intended college football to be played on Saturday afternoons. That's the old-school way.

This old-school graduate thinks it's stupid when basketball players high-five teammates after missed free throws.

I think the aluminum baseball bat is one of the great evils of the 20th century. I believe that the only basketball team that looks right in black sneakers is the Boston Celtics . . . that outfielders should catch fly balls with two hands . . . that no football team ever ran the power sweep as well as Lombardi's Packers.

With these old-school credentials, I should applaud college football officials who penalize teams for "excessive celebration."

But I can't.

I'm not that old school. May I never be.

What's wrong with kids behaving like kids? Especially when the alumni in the stadium -- the adults -- are acting like loons.

Notre Dame lost a football game to Michigan last Saturday, in part, because Irish receiver Bob Brown wriggled his hands at his ear holes after catching a pass for a two-point conversion.

By modern standards of idiotic behavior on the athletic field, Brown's outburst rates low. The play put Notre Dame ahead by three points with 4:08 to go. But for Brown's excessive celebrating, the Irish were penalized 15 yards on the kickoff.

The infraction allowed Michigan to begin its game-winning drive at the Notre Dame 42. For sure, Michigan's work wasn't done. And Notre Dame added to its own misery with a late hit out of bounds, a penalty that deserved to be called.

Even so, arguably the biggest play of the game was the penalty on Brown.

We can expect more of this. In Chapel Hill, N.C., last Saturday, the Tar Heels were penalized for excessive celebrating after Antwon Black intercepted a pass from Virginia quarterback Dan Ellis and returned it 89 yards for a touchdown.

Black's infraction?

It was hard for an eyewitness to tell. As he crossed the goal line, Black apparently strutted for no more than two strides. It was a subtle strut at that.

Out came the official's hanky.

The Tar Heels were backed up 15 yards on the extra point. The kicked was missed. It's a point that could have decided the game.

Had Black taunted a Virginia player, pointed fingers or gone into one of those spastic head-bobbing routines, it's a different story. Bring out the laundry then.

But what's wrong with a player expressing a little passion after a touchdown?

The coaches, fans and media exaggerate the importance of these games until the players are about to explode. Then football has the nerve to warn athletes that they better not go overboard in celebrating a great play.

For fear of punishment, you get ridiculous scenes like this: After Todd Braverman's last-minute, 50-yard, game-winning field goal, Virginia coach George Welsh runs onto the field, barking at his players to stop hugging one another.

Welsh looks like the Grinch that stole Christmas. He's petrified that an official will mistake genuine jubilation for excessive celebrating and force his team to kick off from its own 20.

Here's a suggestion from an old schooler: Let the officials go back to calling penalties that matter.

Within reason, let kids be kids.

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