That nugget of conventional wisdom "there's no time like the present" may hold true for most aspects of life, but for sports, it requires a slight modification. I propose the following: "There's no time like a few seconds from the present when you're sure the shot has been sunk, the pass has been caught, the goal line crossed, the final buzzer sounded, and the penalty flag is still firmly clipped to the ref's belt."
Such wisdom is needed now more than ever; 2012 has proved to be a banner year for gaffes of the premature celebration ilk.
Click on for the ultimate collection of them. You'll find both new instances and all-time classics. All painful. All hilarious. All utterly humiliating.
Let the red-facing begin!
This from a March 2012 Hurricanes vs. Blues game.
Tim Brent breaks out his best fist-over-the-head-woot-woot pose, only to have it re-form as his best palms-out-WTF-is-this pose.
Check out Steve Pledger's (Oklahoma No. 2) deep-knee-bending fist pump as he fires off a would-be game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer.
At the 2012 Italian CIV championship race in Mugello, Ricardo Russo became another woeful competitor who forgot about that nagging final lap.
Oh, Ricky, if you had only thrown your hands up once, it might have not been so awful. But that standing up on the foot pegs with the air boxing really sent the mercury shooting out the top of the humiliation thermometer.
Khalid Askri did a terrific job of diving to get between the ball and the goal on a vital penalty kick.
He smugly walked off the field, tapping on his chest in victory.
But apparently it had been a while since he burned any incense to honor the gods of backspin.
Alex Cujavante, a skater extraordinaire from Colombia, was a couple seconds away from the gold at the 2,000m men's final at the 2010 World Roller Speed Skating Championships.
With a comfortable lead and just a few meters to go, he eased up and started his celebrating.
But South Korean skater Sang Cheol Lee fired off remainder of his inner nitrous tank and surged ahead to take the win.
Veteran Olympian Lopez Lomong was a blur of motion as he set out to qualify for the men's 5000m at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational in April 2012.
Way ahead of the pack, he threw his hands in the air and slowed to a victory trot, becoming a certified member of the uh-dude-you-still-got-a-lap-to-go club.
To his credit, he powered his pistons back up, still won the race, still qualified, and still got a world-leading time.
Team owners are the gods up on Mount Olympus. They inhabit lofty perches and watch the mortals on the field below.
When their stern faces crack a smile, players beam with pride. Heck, even us spectators do.
But high up in the clouds isn't always the best angle to see if the pigskin made it through the uprights.
Racer's Lament: An epic poem in 10 words.
(Inspired by the doings of Sean Emmett at the 2004 British Superbike Race at Thruxton.)
Winning. Looking back. Choke on my exhaust, suckers! Wobbling. Oops.
Jacobellis was about to go down in history as the first ever Olympic winner of the women's snowboard cross competition (a debut event).
But when she put a little celebratory something extra into her final jump, she lost her balance, her gold medal, her day in the Italian sun.
Hey, she did make history, though.
So mud can do that. Yup.
Maybe if I grab the net and flow right into a pivot, everyone will think it was all just part of a genius master plan.
Like New York City is often called "The City," this celebration fail is so ubiquitous, so epic, so perfect, it could be called simply "The Fail."
For non-rugby fans:
"Try" = "Touchdown"
With one crucial difference. To score a try, you literally have to touch the ball down to the ground in the goal area.
So where does that leave Mr. Glen Fisiiahi with?
1. One amazing run across the goal line.
2. Zero points.
3. A couple of grass burns on his knees.
4. Eternal humiliation courtesy of YouTube.
Sept. 10, 2010. Marshall vs. West Virginia
Aaron Dobson makes a 96-yard reception, then pulls a DeSean Jackson at the goal line.
Lucky for him, the refs miss the blunder.
Unlucky for him, the video lives on in infamy in cyberspace.
Lucky for him a year later, this spectacular catch goes mega-viral and effectively buries the premature celebration video.
An epic battle of feline behemoths: The Panthers of Plano East Senior High School vs. the Lions of John Tyler High School
This was No. 2 in the state vs. No. 3 in the state, according to an AP poll.
But with 3:03 left in the game, and the Lions winning 41-17, the game seemed all but over.
Then, the Panthers made a comeback almost too fantastical to believe. With 24 seconds remaining, they now had the lead with the score at 44-41.
The announcers screamed and yelped in joy.
But seconds later announcer Mike Zoffuto was machine-gunning "Oh nos" as a Lions receiver flew down field. Touchdown! Lions win 48 to 44.
"I don't believe it. God bless those kids, I am sick, I want to throw up."
- Mike Zoffuto
Sudden death overtime in a crucial match between Italian teams Termeno and Dro.
Deflection, backspin, and sheer dumb luck converge in a perfect storm of misery for the momentarily exultant Dro goal keeper.
This video of the band on the field has gone quintuple-platinum viral and now serves as the world public service announcement regarding the dangers of premature celebration.
If you are going to put up the big fight for the first 42,115 meters of a marathon, then you damn well better keep it up for the last 50. No matter how far in front you think you are.
Jim Ferstle of Runner's World writes:
"Pirtea had gone from waving to the crowd and celebrating an anticipated victory to shocked defeat in the blink of an eye."
People say God hates the Browns.
Well He apparently does.
At the end of one of the most thrilling NFL games of the modern era, Dwayne Rudd thought he had sacked K.C.'s Trent Green. End of game. Cleveland wins. He threw up his helmet in joy.
But the play wasn't over.
And even when it was, thanks to the helmet throw, the game wasn't over, either.
At the 2010 Borgata Poker Open, Dwyte Pilgrim was looking for a second consecutive knockout.
The flop went very much his way.
Knowing he had Ofir Mor on the ropes, he celebrated. In a very, very big way. Absolutely painful and delightful to watch, knowing what's coming.
When the laws of probability played against him on the turn and then the river card, there simply was not enough humble pie on the planet for him to eat.
Allegedly, he approached the announcer and said, "Make sure you don't make me look too bad with all the celebrating and stuff."
Kentucky took the lead with 11 seconds on that fateful day in November 2002. At that point, according to sports writer Scott Rabalais:
"Kentucky fans started jumping out of the Commonwealth Stadium stands, ringing the field. On the UK sideline, quarterback Jared Lorenzen doused coach Guy Morriss with a cooler full of water. A Big Blue upset seemed inevitable."
But hold the presses! The premature celebrating wasn't done yet. LSU used those last few seconds to try and make some magic happen. Apparently wasn't going to happen, though.
Time expired with a final shotgun snap. Kentucky fireworks ignited the end zone. Jubilant Kentucky fans climbed the goal posts.
Meanwhile, a Hail Mary pass was launched. Tipped. Caught. Danced into the end zone.
The disbelieving faces of the Cibona Zagreb players. The finger wagging denial of player No. 33 (at 1:15 in the video). The gaping mouth of the losing coach. All better than a shot of rum for keeping you warm on a cold winter's day.
Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzig Norgay are widely considered to be the first mortals to set foot atop Mt. Everest.
Celebrations, knighthoods, medals, fame, fortune, glory, followed the May 29, 1953 achievement.
But a select few wonder if the pair really were the first to summit. See almost 30 years earlier, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared during a summit attempt.
In 1999 an expedition turned up Mallory's body. The question on everyone's mind was still inconclusive: did he die on the way up, or the way down?
If Andrew Irvine's body is ever found, and the camera he allegedly brought is still on him, the answer may come to light.