You can try to sidestep it. Some coaches try to sidestep it. See: the Gatorade Shower Fail recently launched by the Oklahoma Sooners on head coach Bob Stoops, who deftly shimmied out of its way. Their problem was that they came in from the side. You’ve got to come in from behind.
“You just have to get a towel and manage the best you can,” says Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher, whose team beat Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl. “What’s funny is that you forget about it. I have never seen it coming.” He sighs. “It’s a necessary evil.”
Everybody must get dunked. Or dipped. Or showered. There are disputes on the correct vernacular, but no disputes as to whether it must happen, for the nation that has declared the noogie an acceptable display of affection has also deemed the Gatorade Dump an appropriate sign of respect. Fathers and sons around the country watch the Gatorade Dump on television, slug each other in the arms and say, “Nice game,” and what they really mean is, “I love you.” Also: “Pass the dip.”
“It’s really remarkable that people haven’t found anything else to do,” says Darren Rovell, Gatorade historian, who composed the definitive sports-drink history, “First in Thirst.” So many rituals of yore have disappeared. “The bullpen car is gone in baseball. Or how many people are really putting on eye black? Sports traditions don’t really last anymore. Players don’t stay in cities.” Trades happen. People move on.
A sports fan must find something to give the experience continuity. That thing shall be called “electrolytes.”
The most oft-cited original dumping — others might have come before, but this was the one to make it a “thing” — apparently occurred in 1984, at the end of a matchup between the Redskins and the Giants. The perpetrator was defensive tackle Jim Burt. The victim was Bill Parcells.
Parcells, now with ESPN, is e-mailed for his recollections on the momentous occasion. “The chief perpetrator was Jim Burt,” he responds. “I had kind of been on him a little bit during the week. That’s probably a little bit of an understatement. So he just dumped the bucket on me.”
It spread to other teams. It spread to basketball (and then un-spread — too sticky on wooden floors). It spread to the White House, where Ronald Reagan’s aides presented him with a cartoon depicting a Gatorade Shower on the occasion of his birthday. From time to time, Rovell says, doctors have warned about the potential harm of pouring frigid liquid over the heads of old men in subfreezing temperatures. In 1990, Long Beach State’s coach, George Allen (formerly of the Redskins), received a dousing. Allen, then 72, died six weeks later. He had said he hadn’t felt healthy since the Gatorade shower — which, incidentally, was not Gatorade at all: His cash-strapped team had used ice water.