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There’s No Crying in Basketball…or Is There?

Crying in sports has always been a touchy subject. So it’s no surprise that Miami coach Erik Spoelstra’s comments about Heat players in tears after the team’s loss to the Chicago Bulls last weekend created a firestorm, sparking the question: is it ok to boohoo in sports?

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What is surprising is learning that Miami—a team struggling to finish games even with their big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh—was reduced to tears after losing four straight games when their season isn’t even over yet. Adam Morrison’s season was over when UCLA overcame a 17-point deficit to knock off his No. 3 seed Gonzaga team in the 2006 NCAA tournament. The shaggy-haired forward dropped to the ground and sobbed as the final buzzer sounded. It was over for Roger Federer when his grand slam title hopes were dashed two year’s ago after losing to Rafael Nadal. Federer couldn’t contain himself as he watched Nadal accept the Australian Open trophy.

The Heat, Morrison and Federer were labeled crybabies after showing an emotion that is usually shunned in sports. But what if they shed those tears after a victory? Would crying then be acceptable? I am reminded of a sobbing Michael Jordan completely breaking down as he clutched his first NBA championship trophy with the Bulls in 1991. Landon Donovan was moved to tears after the U.S.’s win over Algeria in last year’s World Cup too. These examples are touching moments where victorious cries were allowed. Losing tears? Not so much.

Everyone reacts differently to wins and losses. Some cry, some don’t. But no matter the outcome of a game, it’s not right to knock athletes who get caught up in emotion. They are only human. I’m sure going forward, Miami has learned, perhaps, crying in private after a loss is the best way to avoid public backlash. But even so, I’m sure Heat players hope the next time they have to reach for a box of Kleenex, it’ll be after winning an NBA championship.

What do you think about crying in sports? It is ok or totally uncool? Let me know what you think in the comments below.