Learn to be a good sport

Win or lose, I'd like to see professional athletes act professionally!

Win or lose, I’d like to see professional athletes act professionally!

I’m looking forward to Super Bowl XLVIII this coming Sunday*. It should be a good game. I’m rooting for the Denver Broncos, with apologies to my Washington State relatives.

I was a bit torn over which team I want to win. I’ve lived in Tacoma, Washington and Colorado Springs, Colorado—both near the cities of the current Super Bowl contenders. However, when I lived in Tacoma, there were no Seattle Seahawks. They became part of the NFL shortly after we moved away so I never felt an attachment to them.

The Denver Broncos however were well established when we lived in Colorado Springs in the early ’80s. They were a pretty good team back then and we caught the orange crush fever. So, I was leaning toward Denver. Add Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to the mix, a player that I feel is a gentleman, and I was starting to definitely favor Denver.

What tipped the scale in the Broncos’ favor though was the unsportsmanlike behavior of the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman at the end of the playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. Sherman made a great play, tipping the final pass in the end zone, which resulted in an interception for Malcom Smith. Sherman was a hero. But instead of being happy about the play and celebrating with his teammates, Sherman chose to taunt 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree, reaching out to shake his hand, saying, “Helluva game! Helluva game!” Crabtree pushed him away and Sherman responded by clutching at his throat, apparently signaling that San Francisco had “choked.”

That was irritating. I get tired of seeing professional athletes acting so unprofessionally. That sort of behavior is not allowed in high school sports. It’s not condoned in elementary school. We don’t let our T-ball and Parent Pitch or junior varsity football or volleyball players behave that way. Why should we look the other way when professional athletes act so childishly?

But I was even more irritated as the game ended and the celebration began and FOX Sports reporter Erin Andrews attempted to interview Sherman. She asked a simple question, a typical after-the-game query, “Richard, let me ask you…The final play, take me through it.”

She was met with over-thetop trash talking, with Sherman shouting, “Well, I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you gonna get! Don’t you ever talk about me.”

There have been a number of sportscasters and news pundits who report that Erin Andrews was frightened. I don’t think she was. I think she was confused at Sherman’s bizarre answer. I laughed out loud when she calmly asked him, “Who was talking about you?”

I thought she handled the ill-mannered outburst quite well. She quietly tried to clarify what in the world he was ranting about, like you would an unruly toddler, giving him the opportunity to regroup and realize there was no reason to shout at her. Sherman didn’t take the cue and yelled some more, answering that he was angry at his opponent Crabtree.

Before FOX Sports cut away from the degenerating dialog, he said, “Don’t you open your mouth about the best. Or I’m gonna shut it for you real quick.”

According to Sports Illustrated, Sherman was fined $7,875 for taunting for the simulated choke. I’m glad the NFL took some action to curb unsportsmanlike behavior.

Act like a 2-year-old, receive a punishment like a 2-year-old. Instead of sitting in the corner in a time out, the NFL took some money away. I think that Michael Crabtree should have been fined too. He wasn’t exactly innocent. He didn’t show any maturity when he took the bait and pushed his antagonist away.

Maybe the NFL needs to treat these professionals like 5- to 10-year-olds. Perhaps, at the end of each game, players should line up like kids do after Parent Pitch baseball or soccer, walking past each other, hand outstretched in greeting saying, “Good game”— and meaning it.

Maybe that would remind the players of the NFL—and all of the professional sports organizations—that our kids are watching. They aren’t just watching the game, they are watching the interaction between players. America’s youth idolize our football, baseball, hockey and soccer players. They want to be like them.

Some sports fans justify Sherman’s tirade as just the aftereffect of winning an adrenalinefilled game. In fact, even the reporter who was blasted with the angry words, Erin Andrews, seemed to defend Sherman in a comment sent out on Twitter, stating, “Richard Sherman gave a candid response seconds after an emotional game..Looking forward to a great Super Bowl matchup.”

Maybe it is because she is used to working in a testosterone overload zone, but I admire her grace under pressure. Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree could learn something from her about being a good sport.

Go Broncos!

     ~     ~     ~

It is your response to winning and losing that makes you a winner or a loser.

Harry Sheeny

* As the world now knows, Super Bowl XLVIII was won by the Seattle Seahawks, who came to play. They earned the win–congratulations Seahawks and my “12th man” family members!

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