January 29, 2014
Vol: 21 No: 5

Dr. Wes

If the Super Bowl were a math problem, factor in the 12th man and divide by the tweets about Sherman

By Dr. Wes Browning

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Now that the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl, I have a rare opportunity to demonstrate my nearly complete ignorance of the game — my idea of fun.

I say nearly, because there are facts that I have picked up about the game just naturally in the course of growing old. For instance, never actually play the game of American football because people will try to hurt you.

People talk endlessly about the strategy of the game and game plays, and I see diagrams of plays talked about and analyzed, and I can’t make sense of any of them, which helps me understand how the rest of you feel when I show you a math equation I’m fond of.

I do know that the last and only other time the Seahawks went to a Super Bowl was an Extra Large, and they lost. I know (thanks, Internet!) Alex Rodriguez is not now and never has been a Seahawk. That means that, so far, I know the name of only one Seahawk, a guy named Richard Sherman I heard about last week. I know that he is something called a cornerback, which I’m guessing means he plays in the corner, in the back.

I know Mr. Sherman got shoved by an opposing player at the end of the last game and then had some angry words to say about it, for which he has been labeled a “thug.” I find this hilarious. You should hear what comes out of my mouth when someone shoves me. Mr. Sherman was reserved and restrained by comparison. You’re looking for a thug? Justin Bieber is a thug.

The whole kerfuffle about Sherman revolves around about 20 seconds of a postgame interview that simply wasn’t the interview anyone expected. He was supposed to say stuff to the effect that he was very happy with the way the final play of the game went, ’cause he just stuck his fingers up in the air at a crucial moment, and he was looking forward to going to New Jersey and from there to Disneyland.

What interests me about this is the public’s odd reaction to upset expectations and exactly where these expectations come from.

Some of the problem seems to stem from the fact that the man in question has an ego the size of a Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh. Hello, he’s a football player. Tens of thousands of people show up to cheer him on, wear his jersey and ensure that he gets paid a fortune so they can brag up their city and stretch their own egos out to his limit. Why should he be the only humble man in a stadium full of 12th Man heroes? And, anyway, having a large ego doesn’t qualify you to be a thug.

The problem can’t be that he has a huge ego. How could he not? The problem has to be that he picked the wrong time and place to show it. He overstepped the bounds of his role. He acted out of turn. His behavior was inappropriate. He was indecorous.

How dare a man like him be indecorous? On our televisions, in front of our eyes and our children’s eyes? It’s inconceivable.

Quite simply, the problem is that the people reacting to Richard Sherman’s behavior just don’t know the proper words for what they are describing. Indecorous is not thuggish. Use the correct word.

And, while we’re at it, those are not balls. Balls are round.

Exercises to propel us to the end zone:

What would Richard Sherman have to do in order to be decorous again? Would begging forgiveness of the manners police be sufficient?

Some people say that if Richard Sherman were white, his anger at being shoved would have been considered righteous, and he’d be admired for calling out the offending player without once swearing. In the manner of Sarah Palin, argue that such people are the real racists. Then, think long and hard about what you have done.

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