Tuck: Sportsmanship Not Required For Pro Athletes

Practice what you preach.

As adults we are often under fire for, “do as I say, not as I do.”  That is why it’s been such a media hailstorm since Richard Sherman said what was on his mind and reacted the way he did following his game-clinching pass break-up in the end zone sending the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl.

Problem is that while we learn (some of us?  most of us?) as children to shake hands and to be a good winner and a good loser, that doesn’t always translate to our behaviors later in life.

Look at baseball and hockey.  On the professional level it’s about getting payback.  Defending yourself and teammates.  Getting into fights.  Throwing at opponents.  You can’t let someone show you up.  You gotta fire back.

As media and fans we even seem to be okay with it on our own terms.  Often times we ask questions and make statements to encourage it.  We antagonize.  We prod and needle guys trying to start something or create drama or controversy.  We want guys to give honest opinions and we can’t handle it when the do far too often.

It’s okay for boxers and MMA fighters to talk trash belittling an opponent.  We celebrate Muhammad Ali and his way with words.

We laugh and generally seem to enjoy when basketball players taunt one another after big plays.  Blocked shots get a finger wag and some trash talk.  Reggie Miller’s stare-downs and choke signal to the Knicks are legendary.

The point is simply this: ideally all those virtues of sportsmanship would be upheld from childhood but reality is competition among men is different than competition among boys.

There are plenty of pro athletes that operate with class, dignity, and good sportsmanship inside and outside the lines.  They are to be commended.

Richard Sherman isn’t a bad guy for talking trash and taunting.  Everyone is entitled to like or dislike those actions.  I personally could do without it.  Just understand it’s a different world in pro sports.  The rules that we preach to children don’t necessarily apply to these grown men battling for fame, fortune, and victory.