The topic du jour the past few days has been Seattle cornerback, Richard Sherman (pictured above courtesy of www.kcconfidential.com). There is no doubt that he made a great play and the Seattle Seahawks will have an opportunity to win their first Superbowl. What really got the conversation going was his post play histrionics as well as the Erin Andrews interview immediately following the game. With 30 seconds to go in the game, Sherman tipped the attempted touchdown throw and following his teammate's interception, chased down 49er wide receiver, Michael Crabtree to rub it in his face. It appears there is a history between the two players. After getting shoved away by Crabtee, Sherman then proceeded to make the choke sign toward Colin Kaepernick. During the Andrew's interview, Sherman touted his own ability repeatedly and disparaged Crabtree multiple times to the point that the Fox Sports director cut away from the interview. At the press conference following the game, Sherman continued to refer to Crabtree as a mediocre receiver. Repeatedly, with emphasis.
Since then, Sherman has apologized for this actions and comments. His defenders have said that is not the real Richard Sherman. He grew up in Compton and graduated from Stanford. He has overcome a lot to get to where he is now and he continues to carry a chip on his shoulder. He has started his masters degree. He has a family foundation. He is a smart, shrewd player who antagonizes his opposition to the point were it's an advantage for him. You would think differently if he played for your team. What about Jim Harbaugh's actions on the sidelines? Why doesn't he get the same venom from fans? The interview was directly after a highly physical and emotional game and the adrenaline was still flowing. They are all valid and I am sure that I have missed a few.
So what's the lesson here? Why is this being posted on a Cross Country and Track and Field site? I think we can learn a lot from what happened following the game. For one, when you win, win with class and grace. Sportsmanship is touted highly by CIF and each individual section. If you visit the CCS website, you will see various examples of sportsmanship on the front page posted almost daily. Richard Sherman is a professional athlete and high school athletes and younger watch him and learn from his antics. Is this the kind of behavior that we should accept from younger athletes now? Like it or not, Sherman is a role model. Nobody finishes their career undefeated and at some point in time, you are going to face disappointment. Nobody needs the proverbial foot on chest at that moment by one of your opponents. When you rub it in an opponent's face, they will have an opportunity to compete against you and when they do, there will be an extra incentive for them to defeat you.
I think we are very fortunate that we don't see this type of egregious acts in high school sports. Most runners speak highly of their toughest opponents. Most coaches share their knowledge and do everything in their power to make each individual sport better. So remember the next time you win that race, turn around and be a gracious winner. Shake hands with your opponents and wish them luck the next time you race them. Thank your parents, coaches and teammates for their contributions toward your victory. While you, individually, won the race, even your opponent helped you achieve just a little higher. Richard Sherman made the play but his defensive linemen pressured the quarterback and his teammate hustled downfield to make the interception. I think in time, he will understand that it's not really all about him.