The Richard Sherman saga shows that this country, as far as it has come, still has race relation issues, as Black people as a whole are still viewed by the lowest common denominator, while White athletes are given a pass.
The Pro Bowl Seattle Seahawks cornerback has become a household name leading into the Super Bowl, but unfortunately, it is not for his spectacular play on the field, as he has become one of the most hated athletes in sports today. He did not beat anybody up, rob anyone, walk out on his children, or break any laws. All he did was go on a post NFC Championship Game rant where he yelled into the microphone, taunting the San Francisco 49ers and their wide receiver Michael Crabtree, while claiming that he was the best at his position.
In the aftermath, Sherman was called all kind of racial slurs through social media, and he was labeled a thug. Can Sherman’s outburst in front of a national audience be considered unsportsmanlike? Yes. Did it show a lack of class toward his opponent? Sure. Should he have shown his excitement of making the game saving play, which sent his team to the Super Bowl, without disrespecting his opponents? Of course.
With all that being said, how does showing a lack of sportsmanship equate to being a thug? A thug is typically a person who commits crimes. A person who steals, who fights, who is violent. A menace to society. Sherman’s post-game rant did not show any of those things, and yet he was labeled a thug by many.
Sherman may have put it best during an interview several days later. He said that people are now using the word thug in place of the N-word. Many people, especially when they are sitting behind their computers, will freely use the N-word when disrespecting a Black person. For the people who are not comfortable using that word, they have replaced it with thug.
Since this backlash has come out, it has been noted by many that Sherman was second in his class at Compton Dominguez High School, and he achieved a 4.2 grade point average at Stanford, one of the top academic universities in this country. While many professional athletes do not graduate from college, Sherman earned his degree and he is now in a master’s program.
Sherman’s undergraduate degree was in communications. Notice that in his post game rant, where he sounded like a crazy person, he was articulate, he did not use any slang words, and most importantly, he did not use any foul language.
Sherman is one of the smartest men in football, and as a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., he is an asset to the Black community. But because people saw something that they did not like, he has been labeled a name that arguably does not fit him.
This type of backlash toward Black athletes is nothing new. In the NBA, where about 80 percent of the basketball players are Black, and in the NFL, where about 65 percent of the football players are Black, anytime there is a hint of a skirmish, people talk about how those leagues are filled with gangbangers. The NBA and NFL have strict rules against fighting, which is why it is rare to see a punch thrown, let alone landed. But in a sport like ice hockey, where the NHL is nearly all White, punches are thrown and landed on a nightly basis. One fight can produce more connected punches than 10 years of landed punches in the NBA.