What Richard Sherman COULD Have Taught Everyone
I was sick of this story before I even read a single word. After cheering for the Broncos, I watched the first half of the Seahawks v 49ers game, then kicked my husband and son down to the basement to watch the rest because my DVR was busy recording Downton Abbey and Revenge, so we couldn’t watch a third show. I don’t have a dog in this Superbowl race this year. My Giants were out of it in the first month of the season. My Panthers lost the previous week. So I was down to rooting for Peyton Manning and former Panthers coach, John Fox.
It wasn’t until I received a call from my girlfriend about this whole Richard Sherman thing that I actually knew it had happened. (Yes, husbands. Your wives actually had a phone conversation about football. You may consider yourselves lucky.)
When I watched the video interview, I was predictably disgusted and disappointed. What a missed opportunity. This cornerback could have been featured on every sports page, every social media outlet, even every front page headline for being a fantastic role model, or even an eloquent spokesperson. But no, instead, he used his five seconds on camera to exemplify selfishness, arrogance and ego. What a missed opportunity.
I chatted with my husband about how frustrating it was for my friend, who is striving to supply her athletic son with positive role models. We ended up agreeing that this was as much Sherman’s fault as it was the network’s and the team’s. These interviews are arranged beforehand, with full knowledge that they are giving the spotlight to a trash-talker with a bad reputation. It was obvious that this was simply a ratings ploy. And it worked. Here we are, talking about it, just like they wanted.
I wasn’t planning to spout off about it at all until today, when I read some of the articles defending Sherman. Specifically, this BlogHer article, claiming to offer a mother’s perspective, and this HuffPost piece, which brushes the broadest stroke to say that America is upset because Sherman is from Compton and we don’t like outsiders.
First, as a mother of three, I can 100% accurately claim that no, neither I nor my children have ever proclaimed ourselves as the “best ever” after a game. Not in our house. Not on a field. And certainly not in a public forum, much less on national television. Why? It’s not because we are repressed, or self-doubting. It’s because we were taught better. Our parents, teachers, coaches, and communities instilled in us a sense of good sportsmanship that precludes this kind of angry, self-aggrandizing showboating.
As a mother, I say, yes, encourage kids to celebrate. But teach kids humility, even in the heat of the moment. No, especially in the heat of the moment.
Pride in accomplishment is absolutely encouraged, but awareness and acknowledgement of a team effort should never be overlooked. Whether it’s a great play in a football game, a win in a spelling bee, or an award for a scouting achievement, teach kids to be aware of and acknowledge those who didn’t win in a way that shows you appreciate them for the competition. I wouldn’t allow my kid to behave like Sherman did, even on the sideline. But if my son ever spewed that garbage from his mouth to a camera, I’d have him suffering punishments and serving time in some way that ensured a new-found appreciation for the losers.
Sherman’s charitable actions and scholarly achievements off the field only serve to bolster my point. Sherman is an underdog. If we’re talking winners and losers, he began as the latter. It’s great that he has worked his way up to the former, but he of all people should know better than to perch himself too high to fall.
As for What Richard Sherman Taught Us About America, this drivel spouts that our citizenry is too prejudiced to accept this kind of behavior because of where Sherman grew up. On the contrary, I believe the fact that Richard Sherman was given a microphone at the end of his most successful game in his career states otherwise. We simply were hoping for something worthwhile to come out of his mouth. Instead, we got his ego, up close.
I feel like every HuffPost author seems to think we are all too selfish and should give more to others, that we are bad people for wanting to keep anything that we have earned or enjoy the fruits of our labors. But how do you justify the hypocrisy of sharing and equality and boosting our fellow man versus championing Sherman’s selfish, glory-hogging, rant? Have we lowered our standards to the point where we should be honoring him simply because he hasn’t been arrested?
I don’t think Sherman taught us anything about being Americans. I think Sherman sets a perfect example of what not to do for our kids and our country. If Sherman is a lesson on class, I don’t think the lesson is that we don’t accept those from lower-class upbringings. Instead, Sherman’s lesson is that we all should show a little more class when opening our mouths to a national audience.
Class doesn’t come from money; it comes from character. There are millions of rags to riches achievers who had class long before they had success. Being a Stanford graduate and donating money to charities shows drive and generosity. But it doesn’t show class. Using your five seconds to shout and cheer excitement for your team, your city, the sport, that would have been nice. Using it to nod your head to your competitors in a gracious way could have been a real example of class. Instead, Sherman erased everything we know about his achievements and his philanthropy and showed the world an example of having no class.
No, this one clip does not define the whole man. At least, I hope not. I hope that, in addition to whatever apologies he makes for this moment of diarrhea-mouth, he shows better judgement in his future actions. Empty words of apology are far too common in the news. However, learning from this and showing real class in future moments could teach everyone a bit about true progress.