Richard Sherman’s post-game interview yesterday is all the talk of social media today, with most discussions centering around Sherman’s lack of sportsmanship directed at 49ers WR Michael Crabtree. Admittedly, I didn’t care for Sherman’s comments and wished his words had been more measured and respectful toward his opponent, but I also know that conducting on-field interviews (particularly with players known to be emotional) is essentially a “play at your own risk” move for the media. In other words, live interviews these days can and often do go “sideways,” which actually serves in the media’s best interest if you, the consumer, continue to click on their web pages.
While I personally would love for athletes to remain humble and gracious after games, I also know this song has played before countless times where an athlete goes off in a post-event interview. In a country of free speech, these athletes have the right to say what they want — and, of course, fans have the same right to say what they want in reaction to what they saw. The bigger question here might be less about Sherman’s interview and more about the decay of integrity and sportsmanship — or better yet, the media not being savvy enough in 2014 to have a reasonable idea that certain players are likely going to say some embarrassing things (especially when talking about players with a track record of this stuff!). But maybe that’s exactly what the media wanted to happen yesterday when Sherman was interviewed?
Interestingly, many of the critics of Sherman today must not watch the same games I watch where the on-field microphones pick up just about everything, from F-Bombs to literally every other profanity under the sun. In fact, I have heard far more worse comments randomly picked up on the field than what I heard from Sherman’s interview yesterday.
Maybe Mike Tyson of all people had it right…
Ironically, Mike Tyson of all people might have it right when he went off in an interview a few years ago and told the interviewer “If you don’t like my (profane) answers turn off your station.” The point is that we can’t control the speech and actions of others, but we can decide to simply not tune in to events that are likely to provide us things we don’t want exposed to. In the case of the Mike Tyson interview, I did exactly what he said to do — I turned off the interview as soon as I heard him begin to use profanities.
Not a fan of Richard Sherman today? Well you have the choice to not buy things he endorses, not cheer for his team in the Super Bowl, and not watch any of his future interviews where it is likely he will say controversial remarks again. Again, I am not endorsing Sherman’s comments, but instead reminding us that he is his own person and if he chooses to present himself in the way he did Sunday the media has a choice to interview him or not, and we have a choice to turn the channel when he speaks. And to further this point, the less fans tune in, the less the media will make efforts to interview athletes who like to go off on live television, trust me.
This issue is way bigger than Richard Sherman
By the way, these issues are not limited to sports — are we the least bit surprised these days when Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga say something controversial in an interview? With a media today that longs for off-the-wall interviews in order to get more clicks to their webpage we should all know better and make decisions unique to our values — if we don’t like what they’re selling, tune out (or turn off your station as Mike Tyson said).
The Grammy awards will be here in a couple weeks and guess what? You’ll probably see near-naked performers and award recipients who use vulgar and profane speech – at this point isn’t is expected that these things will occur? Mike Tyson may have it right here, too — “turn off your station if you don’t want to see it.”