Seattle Seahawks Player Richard Sherman Unexpectedly Taught Me a Lesson About Americans

1611296_10152176626947489_1597025279_oI, like millions of others, watched football this past Sunday.  It’s the NFL playoffs so you can expect things to get intense, especially when teams are one win away from the Super Bowl.

Well, at the conclusion of the Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers game, Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews attempted to interview Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.  Let’s just say – it was interesting.

My first impressions were, “Wow.”  I’m not really a huge fan of “me first” athletes who constantly talk about how great they are.  I was always taught that if you’re good at something, let others speak about you – don’t brag about yourself.  Now I’m not saying that one can’t be proud of their talents or gifts, but there’s a way to go about doing that with class.

But then it occurred to me this guy literally just finished possibly the most intense game of his life, against a hated rival, against a player he apparently had been going back and forth with all day (no telling what each man said to one another throughout the game) – then you want to grab him after making possibly the most important (and emotional) play of his entire life to ask him a few questions?

What the heck did we expect?  Granted, his overall words and reaction was definitely over the top (especially video of him making the “choke” sign to 49ers players) but he’s a football player, who really cares?

Well, apparently a lot of people.  While listening to Colin Cowherd (ESPN Radio host) yesterday morning, he discussed this topic and some of the emails he read off about it were stunning.

Parents appalled by Sherman’s choking gesture asking, “How am I supposed to explain this to my children who were watching?”  I absolutely loved Cowherd’s answer – “You tell them, ‘That’s not how you’re supposed to behave.’ That’s called being a parent.”

He’s right.  If you’re going to let your children watch football, be prepared to be a parent and explain some of the “adult situations” that might occur.  These guys are professional athletes playing a violent, often emotional game.  If you want your children to watch that (which there’s nothing wrong with that at all) don’t be upset if you have to explain an “adult situation” to your child.

He also alluded to the fact that Sherman’s actions were actually a great moment to teach a lesson to your children.  Teach them the difference between good sportsmanship and bad sportsmanship.  See these actions as a lesson to educate your children.  We can’t continue to mask our children from things in this world, pretending everything is sunshine and ice cream.

Then he poked at the hypocrisy of some of these parents who undoubtedly let their kids play games like Grand Theft Auto, or watch reality TV shows which depict disgusting behavior, yet want to suddenly act appalled by Sherman’s behavior.

I think he was right there as well.  Not that there’s anything wrong with parents letting their kids play violent games, or watching less than ideal for children television (personally I don’t have a problem with either), just be consistent about what behavior offends you and doesn’t.

It’s called being a parent.  Every parent can raise their kids how they want, just don’t be upset when being a parent requires some actual “parenting” every once in a while.

Another point he made was “racial coding” which I found interesting and also agreed with.  He read off several comments people had said when describing Sherman.  Many calling him a “thug” or “gangster.”  Others saying it was “typical” behavior – without specifying exactly who this was typical behavior for.

Let’s just do a small bit of background on Mr. Sherman, shall we?  He graduated second in his high school class, then went on to graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Communications.

Now, is he cocky?  Probably.  Arrogant?  One could probably make that argument too.  But to call him a “thug” or “gangster” is a clear label some people are using because he’s black.

Sure, if he were white I’m sure there would still be plenty of negative comments about his actions, but I can’t see too many people throwing out the “thug” or “gangster” labels.  I’m not even saying those who called him these things were blatantly being racist.  I’ve seen people use terms such as these for stereotypes constantly because they’re negative reactions in our brain that we just do subconsciously sometimes.

I just found the reactions Mr. Cowherd was reading to be eye-opening.  You had parents chastising the behavior of a man they’ve never met by asking, “What am I supposed to say to my kids?” in some kind of insinuation that Richard Sherman (or the NFL for that matter) owes it to parents to make sure that everything on the field is always appropriate for children.  Then if it’s not they want to be outraged by it, instead of just doing some basic parenting by explaining to their children that what they saw was terrible sportsmanship and if they play sports they shouldn’t behave that way?

Again I’m not condoning his actions, and he has since apologized for them, but it’s ludicrous for people to act as if he owes it to them to be a role model for their children.  While I get pro athletes are often role models, it’s up to the parents of these children to explain why certain behavior is good and certain behavior is bad.

As for the racial coding, I fully believe it.  I can’t imagine a white individual, with a degree from Stanford, being called a “gangster” or a “thug” if he behaved that way.  Sure, maybe some would call him “cocky” or a “punk” or even “immature,” but I highly doubt near as many people would be labeling him words that are often ignorantly used to describe African-Americans because our society has tagged their race to these words.

While none of this stuff “shocked me,” I was taken back a little bit by some of the comments Collin Cowherd said he had gotten in emails and tweets.

Who would have ever thought a half-minute sports interview could have exposed parents trying to avoid basic parenting, hypocrisy within many parents as it relates to the content their children see and blatant racial coding that’s still extremely prevalent in our society.

Oh well, I guess it’s on to the Super Bowl.  Who do you got?

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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