November 28, 2014

Act of bad sportsmanship does not make one a thug

Posted

Are you sick of hearing about Richard Sherman’s post-NFC championship rant yet? You aren’t? Good. Because I’m going to talk about it here.

Let’s get the background out of the way, even though you probably know what happened by now. Late in the conference championship game, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman made a great play, deflecting a pass meant for San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree toward another Seahawks player, leading to an interception. It was a huge play to stop the Niners late drive and secure the win, and a trip to the Super Bowl for Seattle.

A few minutes after the game was over, Sherman was interviewed by Erin Andrews, and did not give the usual post-game speech. Instead, he hollered, shouted and said not-nice things about Crabtree.

And because of that, an act of bad sportsmanship, many have labeled Sherman a “thug.”

Merriam Webster defines the word as “a violent criminal,” and says it is synonymous with gangster, ruffian or roughneck.

With the mainstream influence hip-hop has on our culture, I believe the word thug, not rare to hear in rap music, has been watered down. One does not necessarily have to be a violent criminal to receive the label. Instead giving off the impression that they are prone to violence or running amok of the law is usually reason enough for someone to be called a thug.

But Sherman didn’t, and isn’t doing any of that. Sherman, a Stanford graduate, simply acted in an “unsportsmanlike” manner. I know, I know. He’s supposed to be a role model, because he’s a professional athlete, and “Ooooh the humanity! What about the children?!”

That’s bull. It’s been a long time since I played the race card in a column, but I think I have to. Because I have a question for these parents who are disappointed in Sherman and labeling him a thug.

Did you take away your children’s Justin Bieber CDs (speaking of people we’re sick of hearing about)? Because his behavior has been pretty thuggish lately. A drunken drag race through LA followed by an f-bomb laden resistance to arrest seems to be a little bit more typical of the thug like behavior I am aware of then a postgame rant.

Instead, Bieber is often described as a “troubled pop star” or, when they really want to drag his name through the dirt, a “Canadian pop star.” (Just messing around Canada.)

How about Charlie Sheen back in 2011 when he had his “meltdown?” Sheen, who has a history of violence toward women, drug and alcohol problems, and oh yeah, a nice little sprinkling of anti-Semitism, was never labeled a thug to my knowledge. His actions garnered him 1 million followers on Twitter and a national tour where he stood on stage shouting “Winning!” or something. Plus, after he left/was fired from “Two and a Half Men,” he soon landed a new show on the FX Network.

So what makes an act of bad sportsmanship worthy of the term thug, while renowned idiots like Sheen and Bieber get a pass? Hmm … What’s the difference between Sherman and these two, besides criminal records, since that apparently doesn’t matter if the guy without one is a thug and the others are not.

Maybe I just shouldn’t assume to know what a thug is. I guess its definition is in a gray area, and not as clear as black and white.

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