The Gatorade Bath
There are so many traditions in sports. When a team wins, it does something special to celebrate the victory. When a team loses, it goes back to the drawing board to determine why it came up short.
One non-athletic-related tradition in sports is to dump a huge container of icy Gatorade on a coach who wins a big game. Now known as a “Gatorade bath” or “Gatorade shower,” it is generally done after football games but has been used for baseball and basketball games in recent years. The practice apparently started on Oct. 20, 1985 when Jim Burt of the New York Giants dumped a cooler of Gatorade on head coach Bill Parcells following the team’s 17-3 win over the Washington Redskins. Although it was done after a victory, Burt claimed he was upset with Parcells because of how he treated him and used it as more of a revenge tactic than a way to celebrate the win.
Gatorade containers are typically used for the shower. However, the Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes drink Powerade and thus use it to bathe their coaches. This is because Gatorade was originally created at the University of Florida. Since it has always been associated with the school by having “Gator” in its name, student-athletes at other universities in the Sunshine State are prohibited from drinking Gatorade during games.
There have been some instances where the Gatorade bath was given prematurely – and wrongly – before a team was able to close out a big win. Kentucky Wildcats football coach Guy Morriss received the bath shortly before the end of a game against the LSU Tigers on Nov. 9, 2002. But LSU came back and won the game on a Hail Mary pass by quarterback Marcus Randall on the final play of the game. It has since been dubbed the “Bluegrass Miracle,” and I can’t imagine Morriss was very happy with both the bath and the loss.
In addition to football, Gatorade has been poured on NBA coach Doc Rivers and MLB pitcher Ervin Santana following Rivers’ victory in the 2008 NBA Finals and Santana’s no-hitter in 2011.
You really have to wonder how much coaches like this stunt – or if they like it at all. In cold weather games, it must be quite uncomfortable to be doused with liquid and water that is probably just above 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The accomplishment of winning a football or baseball game in dramatic fashion when all the doubters picked against your team is one thing. But wouldn’t you think some of that emotion might be taken away after an unexpected Gatorade shower? Perhaps coaches know by now that this is not a new practice. That is probably why you occasionally see them run away from their well-known team jokesters in the closing seconds of a contest so they can celebrate wearing dry clothes.