Monday, January 20, 2014

On Richard Sherman, Tommy Tomlinson, and Sportsmanship

I love football. I grew up watching the sport with my father, going to local games, and once I entered high school, I traveled with the sports teams as a cheerleader or a member of the marching band. Much of the social scene in my hometown revolved around the Ironmen. After all, I grew up in small-town Oklahoma and we are serious about our sports, especially football. 

I watched both of yesterday's games. I am delighted with the outcome of the early game, primarily because someone defeated the Patriots. I am equally disappointed with the outcome of the late game. I am a Kaepernick* fan, not necessarily a Niners fan. But my disappointment stems from more than just the loss to Seattle. What a brutal, nasty game. The refs officiated the game poorly which contributed to the heightened emotion and violence on the field. Both teams are physical, fierce competitors. It's a rough game. Oh, my, the injuries.

Anyone who watched most likely caught the Richard Sherman interview immediately after the game. I'm not sure anyone seemed more shocked than reporter Erin Andrews. She handled Sherman like the professional she is, and the camera cut away quickly. Instantaneously, chatter appeared all over the internet about Sherman's so-called rant. Many condemned his behavior, including myself. Name-calling ensued. Peopled bemoaned the state of the game. One online writer compared Sherman to Muhammad Ali.

 I awoke this morning to a friend's link to Tommy Tomlinson's 22 Brief Thoughts About That Richard Sherman Interview. Huh. A defense of Sherman's antics. His final point? "It seems to me the only proper response to something like that [game] is to holler like a crazy person."

What I gleaned from the article is that Sherman was excited, he's a smart guy, and football players are not fit to communicate publicly until they simmer down. 

I find much of what Mr. Tomlinson wrote disingenuous. Some of his points seem trite and cliched to me:  fans want a violent, exciting game filled with some big personalities but are quick to criticize when the behavior gets out of hand; put a microphone in a guy's face directly after he's made a game-winning play and he's liable to be a bit punchy. Yadda, yadda, yadda. The bit that actually bothered me the most, though, lies in what I consider to be Tomlinson's hypocrisy. He defends Sherman by pointing out his intellect, his high school class standing, and his prestigious college. The next point, I must quote.

"His degree from Stanford was in communications...which might explain why, while he seemed to be hollering like a crazy person, he didn't curse and looked into the camera the whole time."

Tomlinson goes on to compare the interview to an audition for the WWE.

Here's the rub--Tomlinson contradicts his own conclusion when he insinuates that Sherman acted with full understanding of his actions during that on-camera rant. Either Sherman behaved like a "crazy person" or he controlled his language and his gaze while saying exactly what he meant to say. Sorry, Mr. Tomlinson, you can't have it both ways.

Do I think Richard Sherman's behavior offensive? Yeah, I do. On field after the big play and on camera afterward. Sherman behaves like a bully. That handshake proffered to Michael Crabtree was nothing more than an Eddie Haskell-style taunt. Calling Crabtree "mediocre" on national television reveals an utter lack of respect for other players, not to mention a total lack of class. I really don't care what history they might have. Sherman's self assessment of his abilities is probably not far off. He's an excellent player and fierce competitor, but I simply cannot stomach that kind of arrogance. I am fairly sure Sherman doesn't give a whit what I think.

 I'm not a Broncos fan, but I hope they crush the Seahawks on February 2.

* I mean, really. Look at him. And he can play the game, too. Of course I'm a fan.


Beth said...

Kim! Great to see you here again! (I've watched a lot of football with my dad, too, but can't say I enjoy it. Baseball and basketball, yes!)

Kim said...

There are a couple of poems a few days back that might be more your style, Beth!