Space for Sportsmanship

Richard Sherman is a great NFL talent. He is arguably the number one shutdown corner in the league right now, and is a valuable asset to his team, the Seattle Seahawks. This past weekend he helped Seattle beat rival San Francisco 49ers 23-17 for the NFC Championship. In the fourth quarter as the Niners were driving to win the game, Sherman made a magnificent play on the ball and tipped it to an intercepting teammate to seal the victory. He was one of the heroes of the game, but his antics after the play that made headlines. He got into the face of Michael Crabtree and mocked the 49er wide receiver in addition to making the choke sign toward the San Francisco bench.

In his immediate post-game interview with reporter Erin Andrews, he proclaimed himself “the best corner in the game,” and continued to mock Crabtree with brash words. Understandably Andrews didn’t know how to respond, and awkwardly ended the interview (look it up on YouTube if you missed it, it was hysterical). Simply put, Sherman had one of the worst displays of sportsmanship in recent memory.

Sportsmanship is something preached at every level of sports. Those of you who played youth sports know what I mean. Kids are taught from a young age to be gracious in victories or defeats, meaning you don’t throw temper tantrums on the field or taunt your opponents, and everybody shakes hands at the end of the game. Of course, youth sports are a far cry from the NFL. But does sportsmanship still matter, even in professional sports?

Defenders of Sherman will probably concede he is arrogant, but will say this arrogance is what helps makes him successful, and gives him an edge that is needed to play at a high level. While I don’t entirely disagree, because you need confidence to play sports professionally, I think Sherman’s antics were out of line. There are plenty of NFL players who have lots of confidence but don’t act at all like Sherman. I understand he had a war of words going with Crabtree, but it is unprofessional to mock another player like he did. I also understand he was hyped-up for his interview with Andrews, but I think there is something to be said for letting your play on the field speak for itself. In my opinion, it would have been much better if he would have celebrated with his teammates instead of bringing it all back to himself.

Why is sportsmanship important? It isn’t an easy answer, but the bottom line is, it is the right thing to do. Being a good sportsman and being humble doesn’t make you a pushover or a wimp. It just means you can keep the game in perspective, and that you realize there is more to a game and life than just you, especially in a team game like football. Sherman will have two whole weeks to talk smack toward his next opponent, the Denver Broncos. He will also have a chance to back up his words in the game. He should be hyped and confident, as he will have an opportunity to lead his team to a big win. Regardless of the outcome, we all should have good sportsmanship. After all, it is just a game.