Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Finally a sane voice on Sherman: Michael Cohen of the Guardian "Richard Sherman's immature gloating shows he's not ready for sport stardom"

Here.Sure to make me popular here in Seattle. The basic issue is good sportsmanship. There's being a good loser, but there's also such a thing as being a good winner, and being a good winner doesn't involve trash talking your opponent or threatening them. This is what separates professional sports from the WWF (or WWE as it's now called), from professional wrestling. Otherwise, we might as well welcome athletes onto the playing field with their own theme songs and follow their rivalries like we would with Hulk Hogan or Macho Man Randy Savage.

This has nothing to do with race, as the enjoyment by mostly white people of pro-Wrestling proves.

Here are some excerpts from Cohen's article that are especially good:

"But oddly, the backlash against Sherman led to a counter-backlash. Suddenly Sherman was being scapegoated. Supporters pointed to a sympathetic Sports Illustrated article; his stellar academic credentials (as if Sherman failing to fit the image of a "dumb jock" is somehow a pass for boorish behavior); and his magnetic personality.

Some were quick to blame racism for the Sherman backlash. To an extent, the racism charge rings true – what with knucke-dragging racists running to Twitter to call Sherman a thug as well as a lot of worse names. But while racism is undoubtedly a factor in how people view Sherman, it doesn't mean he wasn't out of line.

Others argued that emotion is integral to sports and, if anything, Sherman should be praised for not being afraid to be himself. At the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates wonders why people think the trash-talking that Sherman specializes in is merely for the "classless" and "stupid".

But when did showing emotion become a defense for unprofessional and immature behavior? Sherman doesn't get a pass for the kind of outburst that men of all colors too often – and all too perniciously – use to justify acting like jerks (or worse).

Showing positive emotion, exulting in a great play, celebrating victory – it is all part of the joy of sports. Still, anytime someone wins, someone else loses and compounding their pain is as disrespectful an act as one can commit on a playing field.

At a time when middle and high schools are rolling out anti-bullying programs, trash-talking should not be given the "boys just being boys treatment". On the football field, talking trash is, for better or worse, part of the game. We're inured to its public displays. Off the field, it is the language of bullies – a tool that the strong use to terrorize the weak and the vulnerable. It's hardly an ethos for young people to embrace."

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