Archive for January, 2014

Don’t Be an Asshole: The Ballad of Richard Sherman

sherman

Sherman looking particularly dignified.

If Richard Sherman’s controversial post-game interview didn’t make you laugh out loud you just don’t get it.

It’s all a lot simpler than the people arguing about it think it is. Richard Sherman is an asshole and proved it long before the interview incident. Regardless, most of the perspectives on what he did are pretty weak, from those defending him to those who are calling it disgraceful.

His character can easily by judged by watching this video of him mic’d up for the Seahawks game against the Vikings. Beginning around 1:35 all he does is mock and demean Cordarrell Patterson and especially mild-mannered Joe Webb, who fights back impressively. His comments aren’t usual trash talk, at least I’d hope, but are childish personal jabs. He tells Patterson that he’s weak and needs to ‘lift more’ and goes on and on about how bored he is covering Webb and repeatedly calls him a waste of his time.

The funniest part about that is earlier in the game Sherman got burned on a touchdown reception Christian Ponder threw to Jarius Wright. The reason he was covering Joe Webb, probably last on the Vikings’ wide receiver depth chart, is because he wasn’t good enough to cover their other receivers. When considering how mediocre the Vikings’ receiving core was this year that’s a pretty big insult.

The only reason this latest incident is getting so much attention is because it was in an interview after a big game. But disrespect is disrespect. What he said to Webb and Patterson was far worse than the ridiculous, humorous rant that he went on about how great he is.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

God this guy is awesome. Whoever he is.

The entire context of the incident also needs to be considered. The Seahawks had just won a hard-fought game in dramatic fashion. Each side was doing a lot of trash talking. His emotions were high and how physical and arrogant the 49ers were added to this.

So in a moment of high emotion he did something stupid. Anybody who has ever done that – and that pretty much means every single person – has no business saying how disgraceful Sherman’s actions were. People will, though, because it’s easier to point out what’s wrong with others than it is to look at yourself.

Those defending Sherman are also missing the point. What he did still wasn’t right. If he wasn’t such an asshole in the first place, and if he was mature enough to keep his emotions in check, he wouldn’t have done something so stupid, period.

Finally, this entire thing is bringing up the argument about whether athletes are role models. I cringe to think there are kids who saw the interview and thought it was the coolest thing ever and that it shows how an athlete is supposed to act. At the same time it’s also a teaching tool. It’s especially easy when considering the Seahawks, because their quarterback Russell Wilson is probably the most upstanding man in football. There will always be Shermans and there will always be Wilsons, but it takes good role models in kid’s lives to teach them which is the better way.

As often happens, those on both sides are missing the point. Defenders of Sherman can’t even admit the obvious fact that what he did was wrong. Those who think what he did was disgraceful are hypocrites because they’ve all said and done stupid things when emotions are high. Most of them also get off on talking down to those who make mistakes because it makes them feel like they’re above that person.

What Sherman did, ultimately, is a teaching tool, both for kids and for adults. The lesson is simple: don’t be an asshole.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

An apology to Cal Ripken, Jr.

ripken 2Cal Ripken Jr. is one of the nicest, and best, people in baseball history. His major accomplishment, setting legendary Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played, proves his work ethic and dedication to the game.

Although he’d never want to admit it I get a lot of my negativity from my Dad. When Ripken set the record in 1996 my Dad wrote it off. “Eh, his record doesn’t count,” he’d say. “Did he play during the strike?” Instead of acknowledging Ripken’s amazing feat he didn’t see it as an accomplishment because of the previous year’s baseball strike. But the strike had nothing to do with Ripken and doesn’t at all diminish the dedication it takes to play so many games in a row.

My oldest nephew’s name is Cal. Although his parents deny it I know it was inspired by Cal Ripken Jr., one of my former brother-in-laws heroes. I’d always try to get him going by making fun of Ripken: “You know, his streak doesn’t count because of the strike, right?” It never worked. He’d just shake his head.

Today I watched most of MLB Network’s “My Most Memorable Game” series with Ripken talking about the game he broke Gehrig’s record. Watching it I was finally able to understand why he is so highly regarded in baseball. He has a great attitude and an obvious love for the game. He’s also very humble. He nearly cried several times when he talked about how much his Dad, Orioles’ legend Ripken Sr., meant to him.

Ripken is a good example of some of the most important lessons in life: persistence, perseverance, and love and respect for what you do. As a guy who usually can’t even make it to work on time his dedication is inspiring. It’s finally time that I give Cal Ripken Jr. his due.

And Ron, you done good naming your son after such a great man.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

Hockey Day in Minnesota

HDM-LogoI have the reputation for being too negative. This isn’t something I enjoy because in reality I am actually exceedingly joyful. There’s nothing I like more than being alive.

Something that comes close, though, is celebrating. Some people get off on ruining people’s celebrations. It’s like they think their negativity will somehow make it less special to the people who celebrate. Fortunately this is not the case.

I used to make fun of Hockey Day in Minnesota. It doesn’t really make sense because I actually do like hockey. It’s weird how this sort of negativity it works. There’s a weird feeling inside that wants to be against something just because you see people celebrating and enjoying themselves. It’s so shallow.

It’s nice to finally be over it. My favorite part of Hockey Day, even in the years I’d make fun of it, was always the outdoor high school games. There are two televised live. This morning saw Cloquet-Esko-Carlton beat Rochester Lourdes 4-1. The game, between two perennial Class A teams, was a lot closer than the score indicates. It was scoreless going into the third period and Lourdes even took the first lead before Cloquet took over.

As I write this Elk River, who is hosting Hockey Day this year, is about to take on Stillwater, another matchup of talented, classic tournament teams. Afterward the Gophers will take on Ohio State and then I’ll have the pleasure of working at Xcel as the Wild take on the Dallas Not-So-North Stars.

The coolest thing about Hockey Day is how damn happy it makes people. Fox Sports North is covering it locally and everyone they talk to and interview is contagiously happy. And that’s what it’s all about. Hockey is important to a lot of people in Minnesota and setting aside a day to honor it means a lot to them. Celebrating something you love lifts up your heart. And that’s never a bad thing.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.