Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What can we learn from the Richard Sherman situation

First off, I am a Niner fan.  I have been since my family moved here from Malta in 1981.  I still remember watching their first Superbowl victory against Cincinnati even though I had no idea what the game was all about at that time.  I have followed them through the many years through the many highs and also through the lows (Dennis Erikson and Mike Singletary!).  I have really enjoyed their revival the past three years despite the brutal endings in each of their last game.

The topic du jour the past few days has been Seattle cornerback, Richard Sherman (pictured above courtesy of  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.

Go Broncos!  


noratw9 said...

I totally agree. When you win, win with grace, and when you lose, lose with grace. He was a sore winner, and that's why everyone called his reaction "classless."

It's the same reason I'm equally annoyed/disturbed/upset by all of the race commentating that's been going on. I acknowledge and admire how Sherman was able to pull himself up, finish 2nd in his HS class, and attend Stanford. His accomplishments are remarkable, and no one is taking that away from him. Race has nothing to do with it; his reaction was rude and lacked sportsmanship, and THAT's why people were upset. Not because he had a different skin color than them.

Ruben DiRado said...

Albert, I completely agree with your sentiments about sportsmanship among high school competitors.

Unfortunately, we need to make a strong distinction between youth sports and professional sports.

A major difference is that in professional sports a princial goal is to make money. In this regard, Sherman's WWE antics work extremely well -- it elevates the profile of the NFL and the player-- and this is then rewarded with even greater advertising dollars.

So while many folks say they dont like Sherman's behavior, it appears this episode will do nothing but increase ratings and media attention (apparently Sherman gained 400K twitter followers this weekend), and as a result, increases the probability more of this will happen again soon.

In the end, like it or not, most folks get what they like. Or as PT Barnum put it "nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

Anonymous said...

Seriously? Who cares? This is why football and the NFL sucks. Almost all of the athletes act like this.

Albert Caruana said...

Ruben, there is no question that part of Sherman's antics are meant to draw attention to himself. In that sense, he was successful.

Here is another point of view in regards to his post game histrionics:

Ruben DiRado said...

Thanks for the link. The author points out that Sherman's approach is risky - I have no doubts about that.

He also points out that his behavior motivates his opponents. But it appears the person who it motivates the most is Richard Sherman - it's a no-retreat "burned bridges" strategy. Like I said - risky.

Anonymous said...

There are two I's in winning, you can't win alone, you can't have humility without an I, and there is no I in team. The beauty of a XC team is that it is a sum of 5 individual places, but the individual will rise higher when running for a team than for themself.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Pre brash? Everyone loves Pre.

Anonymous said...

Naw man, you guys got it all wrong. Crabtree was dissing him.

If you look at the game, immediately after the game ended, Sherman goes over to Crabtree, crongratulates him, and pats him. Then Crabtree shoves him in the face.

Sherman was not happy about this, and he told the world. If anything, more athletes should be like this. If you're good, you're allowed to say it.

Anonymous said...

To 9:48 PM
I hope you're not a coach!

Anonymous said...

to 9:48am, that wasn't right after the game, that was right after the PLAY.

I completely agree with the sentiments of this blog post, with one exception: the final sentence, which reads "he will understand that it's not really all about him."

If he was going to learn this, it was going to be at Stanford. But who did he play for? Emotional Harbaugh.

Also, Sherman was a track star, in high school and also at Stanford. So there's your "XC/TF" connection for this to be posted on here. :)

Marty Beene said...

Thanks for posting your thoughts on this, Albert. It's always good to have a dialogue about sportsmanship, and I love how high school XC and track is loaded with good sportsmanship.

I thought the unsportsmanlike actions of Michael Crabtree and Jim Harbaugh were much worse than Richard Sherman's, and I've been a 49er fan since way before you became one.

For the record, it turns out that, contrary to your description, Sherman didn't "chase down 49er wide receiver, Michael Crabtree to rub it in his face," but chased him down to congratulate him on a hard fought game:

After the negative things Crabtree has said to and about Sherman, his end of game handshake attempt seemed to be taking the high road. I'm willing to cut Sherman some slack after finding out that moments before the interview he got shoved in the face after trying to demonstrate good sportsmanship.

Albert Caruana said...

And the choke sign? Good sportsmanship as well?

Marty Beene said...

I think the choke sign was unsportsmanlike (although, to be fair, NFL players routinely make all kinds of gestures to each other, so they apparently don't think hand gestures are that big of a deal). But I think shoving another player in the face after he tries to congratulate you, and going berserk multiple times when officials calls go against you are both worse sportsmanship than one gesture.

Anonymous said...

My favorite part about high school track is the mutual respect we had for all of the athletes. One day I was running at hillsdale high school in a PAL race. Im no superstar, but I had earned the respect of my teammates. After my race I slammed my spikes on the ground. The throws coach came over to me and said something to the extent of " hey listen , I know it wasn't what you wanted, but you gotta understand a lot of people look up to you so keep it together." ever since that day I do my best to keep composure even when I don't do as well as I want.My outburst was not necessary, it was a heat of the moment thing.

Anonymous said...

@marty beene
I cant tell if you're joking or not.

If you aren't, isn't saying good game to someone before the game is even over a little arrogant?

Marty Beene said...


No, I wasn't joking. I think saying "good game" to someone and offering a handshake is always good sportsmanship, regardless of when it occurs. This is quite common in XC, actually, when runners who finish near the front of a race congratulate each other well before their respective teammates have finished and thus completed the competition. This is no different than in a football game which has clearly been decided, but certain players have completed their individual participation.

Anonymous said...

Marty Beene,
If you think Sherman was congratulating Crabtree you are really naive.

Albert Caruana said...

I agree that Sherman went over to Crabtree to rub it in but I could see how someone might interpret what he did as a form of sportsmanship.

Anonymous said...

A lot of speculation here, but setting that aside, evaluate the actions: Sherman goes over to Crabtree, smacks him on the butt, sticks out his hand which even NFL commentators say, "appeared to look like he was offering to shake Crabtree's hand," and then Crabtree shoves Sherman in the face, and then the ensuing hate on Sherman for spouting off and posting his tweets.

Unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of both clearly, and Crabtree is no innocent lamb.

I do not think Marty Beene is naive for his perspective and view such an assertion as distasteful.

Anonymous said...

12:25 PM,
If someone is naive it is because they view the world through rose-colored glasses. That's not to say that it is necessarily a bad thing. It may be a people the benefit of the doubt.
I don't see how it is in bad taste to call someone naive. Is it bad to point out someone's innocence?
Why are you so sensitive?
As far as the incident goes: How can you CONGRATULATE someone who has just lost the most important game of the year?
You may console them, but definitely not CONGRATULATE them!
And maybe I'm cynical but Sherman was rubbing it in in my view.
Congratulations your season is over????

Coach Ozzie said...

When our boys and girls got 3rd and NCS and missed state by one spot, Tim Hunter, John Pelster, and Mike Davis all came up and congratulated us on a nice season. I thought they were being good sports. Apparently I was being naive and they were rubbing it in. Thanks for setting me straight. I'll be sure to shove them in the face next time I see them.

Anonymous said...

Coach Ozzie,
If you can't distinguish the difference between your high school rivals and the Sherman/Crabtree situation (who are known to have a history) you are naive. And not naive in an admirable way like Marty Beene.
Also...your sarcasm is childish.

Coach Ozzie said...

I can see plenty of differences, but what I also see are plenty of parallels. I think when he momentarily lost control for all of us, Richard Sherman gave us an involuntary look at part of what makes him as good as he is. Many of today's talented athletes have had that trained out of them in the interest of political correctness and fitting in. Whether he is really the best cornerback in the league or not, Sherman believes that he is. That is important. Muhammad Ali said, "I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was." Many of our athletes have been taught to never say, "I am the best," even when they are and thus constantly underachieve. It's much easier for an athlete who thinks he or she is the best and teach them how to be than it is to take the best athlete and convince him or her of it. Sherman's episode provides a candid opportunity to learn that lesson, but we are reenforcing the other message. Don't stand out. Don't be better than everyone, and if you happen to be, whatever you do, don't let everyone else know you believe it.

And by the way Anon at 2:44, if I find out this is Mike Davis, I will shove you in the face.

Anonymous said...

Coach Ozzie,
Do you even realize that you are contradicting yourself?
In your first post you state that Sherman was just congratulating Crabtree and then in your next post you claim that it is admirable for Sherman to exhibit such self-confidence by yelling that he was the best. (And which you also add that it is too bad that such an outburst is not politically correct in this day and age)
I am not Mike Davis, so there is no need for you to set a bad example for your student athletes.
Why are you always threatening to shove people in the face?
How old are you?

Albert Caruana said...

Things get misinterpreted online all the time. I think it's time for me to post something new.

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree with Coach Ozzie on this one. There is now video evidence that Sherman congratulated Crabtree after the game, and I think that any coach would want their athlete to congratulate an opponent after a race. Sherman's proclamation that he is the best corner in the league is no different than what Michael Jordan or Muhammad Ali did all the time, yet they are revered and he is not. As for anon at 7:46, I think Coach Ozzie was making a joke.

Coach Ozzie said...

1) I don't know what happened on the field. The video shows Sherman run up pat Crabtree on the butt, extend his hand, and say something. He maintains that he said good game. What I think is ridiculous is that there are a lot of people calling it poor sportsmanship because they think he must have said something else. No one knows what he said, except those on the field to hear him. None of his other antics came until after Crabtree shoved Sherman in the face, including the unsportsmanlike flag that didn't come out until Sherman's reactionary choke sign toward Kaepernick. The situation is kind of like a couple of years ago when Harbaugh slapped Jim Schwartz in the back on their way off the field. Harbaugh said he was saying "good game" and Schwarz took exception to it. Harbaugh shook his hand too hard and that got blown out of proportion too. None of Sunday's on field actions would have garnered nearly as much attention if not for Sherman's post game interview.

2) My second post mainly dealt with the post-game interview and not the butt slap, face shove. Where the court of public opinion has ruled that Sherman's statements were in poor taste, I don't feel like Sherman, or any other athlete, should be all that concerned with the court of public opinion. That court has no jurisdiction in sports. Sports is designed to provide a level playing field for all people, whether we judge them as right or wrong, good or bad, refined or raw. If you can play, then you can play and it is not a prerequisite that you always play nicely. As for my statement on political correctness, I think it is too bad that often times it has become better to lose the "right way" than to win the "wrong way". As a non-SF and non-Sea fan, that was a good football game and the fact that those teams don't like each other and took shots at each other made it better. I thought the 49ers would win the game, but respect to the Seahawks for pulling it out. I'll be rooting for them to beat the Broncos as I wold have been rooting for the 49ers to beat the Broncos.

3) I'm 31 years old.

4) I left out any and all smart ass comments.

5) I disagree with Albert. I don't really think there was any misinterpretation going on here.

Anonymous said...

Coach Ozzie,
I disagree with most of what you had to say.
I, for one, think that it IS better to lose "the right way" than to win "the wrong way." Neither of us are necessarily right... we just have differing opinions.
I'm an old fashioned, starry-eyed idealist who still believes that the important thing is how you play the game. Winning is great, but the experience is what really matters.
I used to play a lot of chess with my uncle and I enjoyed a good, tough match that I lost to a quick, easy game I won.
Given the Sherman/Crabtree history I firmly believe Sherman wasn't congratulating Crabtree. You disagree and that's fine. Again we just have a different take on things.
I have to add that although I think Crabtree is an excellent receiver I also think that he is a prima donna.
Thanks for leaving out any and all smart ass comments. It was your sarcastic comment: "...thanks for setting me straight..." that added fuel to the fire. Instead of taking the high road I'm afraid I took the bait and began to rant.
I agree with Albert, I think there was some misinterpretation.
Again...just a differing opinion.
I'm impressed with your ability to express yourself so clearly. It's refreshing.

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