Sportsmanship has a wide breadth of meanings. There are some people who elect to be humble and not talk any trash to their opponents and truly embody the spirit of sport. There are some great champions that come to mind when you think of humility.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kawhi Leonard, Mike Trout, and tons of others are known for never starting arguments with anybody or engaging in unprovoked taunts. But are there specific taunts against specific teams that are considered bad sportsmanship, like the horns down gesture? What does it even mean?
What does "horns down" mean?
According to Sooners Wire, if a team playing against the Texas Longhorns performs the "horns down" gesture, the Big 12 could rule that gesture a taunt in bad taste and players could face penalization. In college football, if the defense has been found guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct, it could result in a 15-yard penalty and an immediate first down for the offense. If it occurs after a score, then the penalty's enforced at the next kickoff.
So what does the "horns down" gesture mean? It's basically a signal of defeat. Imagine a bull with its horns pointed down instead of up. It's the same imagery as a fighter taking a knee or showing a sign of "meekness" or "giving up," and when a team playing opposite the Texas Longhorns brandishes the "horns down" symbol, it's perceived as a slight against the team.
It's kind of like a less extreme version of taunting the Philadelphia Eagles by having one player contorting their hands into a flying bird and the other player pantomiming a gun shooting said eagle. Which probably hasn't been done because you've seen how pissed off people get when athletes don't stand for the national anthem. Imagine pretending to kill a national bird.
Baker Mayfield is among many football fans who are criticizing the Big 12's decision to penalize "horns down."
The Cleveland Browns quarterback didn't make his feelings about the ban unclear after tweeting images of the horns down signal being offensive to "mentally weak" viewers. Baker was a star player for the Oklahoma Sooners in college and threw up a few horns down signs himself.
While there are plenty of people calling out the "crybaby" rules of penalizing the horns down gesture, Big 12 coordinator Greg Burks said that any and all violations will be left up to the discretion of officials and will be ruled on a case by case basis.
"Lemme put it this way. If you do a 'horns down' to a Texas player as an opponent, that's probably going to be a foul. Please all of you note, I said 'probably.' We have to consider intent and consider the situation. We'll leave it to officials," he said.
The rivalry between the Sooners and Longhorns is a deep-rooted football tradition. The Red River showdown will take place in October of 2021 and has been running strong since 1900. Who will you be rooting for this fall? Will you be flaunting the horns down? Or will you be cheering the Longhorns on with Matthew McConaughey?