Welcome to TMLS Court, where we will hear various cases involving Major League Soccer and our honorable Judge Cory Jensen will rule. In this first case we will be discussing the celebration of Houston Dynamo forward Alberth Elis. Arguing for the prosecution is Ian, while Dustyn is on the defense.
Is the Alberth Elis celebration…
...intellectual property theft?
Can one truly claim license to crawling? This is the argument I’m sure that Dustyn will try to convince you of. That to crawl is human. Can we also copyright the sun? Breathing? However let me be clear. Movement in a certain way can be the intellectual property of someone. MOONWALK ANYBODY? That’s what I thought. The prosecution would like to draw your attention to exhibit A: The Digital Crawl by Vitalis “Digital” Takawira. Mr. Takawira was an MLS 1.0 star and his legacy should NOT be tarnished by this new kid on the block. Crawling stylistically in Major League Soccer remains the sole IP of Vitalis “Digital” Takawira and Kansas City Wiz dba “Sporting Kansas City.” Furthermore, one must not look far outside of Major League Soccer to see one Bafetimbi Gomis using the very same “felinesque” crawl to celebrate a goal scoring opportunity. Normally, such an action would be deemed irrelevant as this court has no jurisdiction over matters of the English Premier League, but just YESTERDAY Mr. Gomis was linked with a move to Major League Soccer. Why allow the court to be tied up in another costly and lengthy litigation come July. Let’s do the right thing now. Intellectual Property theft is not - as many would say - a victimless crime. In a way it’s stealing from Mr. Takawira and Mr. Gomis. In another way, it’s stealing from all of us. Prosecution rests on this charge.
The prosecution lays this out perfectly. We're talking about a crawl. Babies crawl. Are we going to persecute 8 month old Billy for crawling in a certain manner? Let's not be silly. Animals also crawl. I think I speak for all of us here when I say, I don't want to be in this courtroom with a tiger or lion. Furthermore, children begin imitating animals at a young age. They flap their wings to be a bird. They bounce and hop as bunnies and kangaroos. And yes, they crawl and prowl as a panther. Did Mr. Takawira first crawl in his goal celebrations? Sure. But what he did is nothing unique. Goal celebrations are done in a moment of joy. Should we call everyone to the court who makes a heart symbol with their hands? Should we bring forth lawsuits for knee slides? I think you see where this is going. Mr. Elis is simply crawling in celebration and to imitate a panther. The same panther that his nickname is derived from. In no way is Mr. Elis stealing from anyone. He is simply expressing his joy and excitement in ways a young man has done in his career, playing the sport he dearly loves. The defense rests on this charge.
Should we stunt creativity, despite the fact that this celebration has been clearly done before, and even on American soil? Mr. Elis’ celebration is certainly unoriginal, and a cheap copy of Mr. Takawira’s and Mr. Gomis’ celebration. There are a litany of other celebrations that we should ban out of breaches of IP theft if we are to rule in favor of the prosecution. To keep the floodgates permanently closed, it is best to allow the continued usage of Mr. Elis’ celebration, however tacky and unoriginal it might be. In a strange coincidence, Mr. Takawira first rose to fame on the Zimbabwean top-division side Dynamos. Mr. Elis was born in 1996, the first year Mr. Takawira graced American soccer with his panther crawl. The two seem intertwined, and it is best not to interfere with the gods.
Ruling: this is not intellectual property theft, but it is horribly unoriginal. However, Mr. Elis must hold up a picture of Digital Takawira and scream ‘Bafetimbi’ every time he panther crawls to pay proper tribute. Perhaps Mr. Elis should’ve combined three crappy celebrations and merged them together like Robbie Keane has done throughout his career. However, Mr. Elis is no criminal, although our innocence might have been robbed.
Is the Alberth Elis celebration…
Total MLS generally chooses not to dabble in affairs of the heart - or indeed the flesh - as it were. However, The fact of the matter is that Mr. Elis’ “panther crawl” is overtly sexual. Now whether or not you think such overt sexuality is a good or bad thing is a matter for a different time, we are simply here today to determine the motivations behind Mr. Elis’ goal celebration truly are. While there may not be an easy to way to define obscenity, I’ll simply deign to quote the great Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart who said,
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”
Ladies and gentlemen of the court, while there is nothing “overtly sexual” about the act of simply crawling, there is certainly an element to Mr. Elis’ stance, tempo, and facial expression that one can only liken to a character like Catwoman when she attempts to be alluring. There is no textbook definition of “overtly sexual” but we all know what we’ve seen. We all know it to be.
I find this charge to be overtly offensive if we're being honest. The prosecution in the above charge wants to claim theft of Mr. Takawira’s property but now define the move as sexual and compare it to a panther. Blasphemy your honor. And what is sexual about a panther? Who goes to a zoo and finds the panther exhibit gratifying in any way other than seeing an interesting animal? This is frankly a waste of all of our times and our TMLS taxpayer dollars. In NO WAY is crawling like a panther, which the prosecution admitted is what is happening, all the whole proving their first charge a fallacy, in NO WAY is this sexual. The defense rests on this frivolous and ridiculous charge.
This discussion is not necessarily a waste of TMLS taxpayer dollars, but it certainly is about the slow creep of sexual material in MLS. Everyone knows about ‘that Landon Donovan photoshoot’ with the water fountain. Or simply google any photo of a shirtless Carlos Bocanegra, current GM of Atlanta United (we all have and will all continue to do so).
The panther that Elis emulates in his crawl most certainly is male, as is Mr. Elis. The crawl is done in an intimidating, authoritative, alpha-male manner to display prowess. Given the crawl’s intended message, there can be no doubt that it can also serve another purpose: to sexually entice members of the BBVA Compass crowd, Texian Army, and viewers at home. Strength, especially in hunting-gathering societies and at the advent of the first agricultural revolution, would be not only a societal/political advantage, but also a sexual boon. Mr. Elis has decided to make the pitches of MLS his own personal “When Doves Cry” video set on a weekly basis.
Ruling: This act is sexual in nature, and we are not aroused.
Is the Alberth Elis celebration…
...appropriate for children?
Absolutely not. The children are our future and our future does not need to include sexy cat dancing. I’m no prude. I’m not opposed to an adult enjoying watching Alberth Elis goal celebrations but children should not be exposed to such thing until they are of an age when they are able to cognitively process what they are seeing. I’ll say it again because it bears constant repeating. Children. Are. Our. Future. The future of the sport in this nation relies on the development and progress of our future generations. Children should be allowed to attend Houston Dynamo matches in order to learn and be exposed to a team that plays well in the first half. If Mr. Elis continues his celebration without intervention, parents will have no choice but to leave their children at home. Who knows how many Christian Pulisics our nation will miss out on as they remain at home playing Mario Kart instead of experiencing the beautiful game up close and personal. I’m not in favor of censorship for the sake of censorship, but if a simple edit to one’s post goal behavior is the difference between a child seeing Mauro Manotas play or not, then I believe the decision has already been made.
If you are to believe the prosecution, you’d believe that a child sees Mr. Elis score a beautiful goal, then see him celebrate, and that child sees sex. Let that sink in. Now, do you realize how foolish that sounds. A child doesn't know of pornography and salacious dancing that may invoke such emotions. When they see a man crawling and prowling they see a panther or some other kind of jungle animal. Period. The defense once again rests.
The act is certainly sexual, as we have established, but it would not appear so to the innocent eye. As children do grow in age, will that perception change? This question may not necessarily be about the young, 0-10 crowd as Mr. Dustyn points out, but it could be more about the pre-teen and teenage crowds that grace MLS stadiums. It is a coming-of-age celebration. Should children be exposed to things might be even subtly sexual? Mr. Ian makes a fair point: the children are our future. They are our future national team pool. They are our future Pat Noonans and Chad Barretts of MLS. Could we accept as a society a child viewing the ‘La Pantera Sexual’ celebration at the age of 6, only to emulate it when he is 19 after his first career MLS goal? His perception of the meaning behind the celebration will have certainly changed over the course of his childhood and early adulthood. And at that point: will the child realize the intent and feel incredulous about their usage of it throughout their childhood? Will they feel regret, or possibly duped by Mr. Elis and the Houston Dynamo?
Ruling: Because of the eventual interpretation of the meaning behind, “La Pantera Sexual” it is unfit for young eyes, much like the Dynamo defense, and Owen Coyle. Manotas makes up, however, for many faults in Houston.