Monday, 27 January 2014

My Football Post of the Year (It's Really About Richard Sherman, not Football)

Here in Paris, when one speaks of 'football,' of course, the game being discussed is known in the US as 'soccer.'  The French are not terribly passionate about sport beyond soccer, with an occasional interest in rugby (yes; I find it really odd as well) and tennis, when the "Roland Garros" (as it's called here) or "French Open" (as it's known everywhere else in the world) is on.

So it's no shock that there is about as close to zero interest in football as can be stated without offending the sensibilities of physicists, who are somewhat obsessive/compulsive about measurement error.

However, one item has made the radar here, and that is the "controversey" currently roiling the media in the US about Seattle Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman, his comic performance in an interview last week, whether his apparent lack of sportsmanship makes him a 'thug,' and whether it's some sort of racist 'code word' to even ask if he is one.

I didn't see the game (the last football game I watched was about four years ago, when I took my then four year old son to watch my alma mater - Dartmouth - play its annual, end of year game versus Princeton in Princeton, where we were then living; the last one I watched on television before that was maybe a decade or so ago), or the interview.  But apparently, this guy made a game-saving play near the end of the match, and then proceded to taunt the man he was defending.  Following the game, in a sideline interview by SpokesBarbie Erin Andrews (aka, Erin Pageviews - so named due to her obvious visual assets), Sherman proceded to boast and howl about his abilities, what a punk the other guy was, and generally made an embarrassing spectacle of himself.

I won't comment too much on this - I personally find football much less a sport than a spectacle, rather like professional wrestling.  The players are (with a few exceptions) hulking freaks.  The play is crude and violent.  The arena has cheerleaders in provocative costumes and is filled with deafening noise.

And that says nothing about the fans.

In short, what on earth does anyone find surprising that, at a circus, you're typically going to see a lot of clowns?  Sherman is a clown, but not more clownish than any of the other players.  So, his behaviour should hardly be a story, let alone a scandal.

The people who attack Sherman ought to try to get ahold of a tether to reality.  He's an entertainer.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

That said, is he a 'thug?'  Hmmmm...  He went to Stanford, and apparently graduated at the top of his high school class.  Those aren't exactly the bona fides that, say, Tupac Shakur could boast.  Maybe his performance is meant to boost his 'street cred.'  I don't know.  I find it unlikely that he's spending his evenings 'dusting some cops off' or engaging in other 'damn it feels good to be a gangster' nonsense.

Finally, is it "racist" to ask if he's a thug?  Is "thug" the new code that white (and other) bigots use to describe guys like this?  That's apparently what others who have defended Sherman see it (most notably, the Useful Idiot Bill Maher and wannabe intelletcual Ta-Nehisi Caotes in a truly laughable piece here.)

During the 2012 campaign, some of the apologists for the current, failed US President - apparently quite afraid that President Obama might actually not be re-elected - were saturation bombing the media with all sort of innuendo about "dog whistles" and "code words" (it acutally got to the pinnacle of sophistry when Chris Mathews suggested that saying "Chicago" or "golf" on the air was actually racist code to attack the prez).

In point of fact, the defence of Sherman - implying that he is "better at life than you are" (one editiorial actually suggested that critics were fit to carry neither Sherman's jock - probably true - not his maths book) because he's some sort of renaissance man - is plainly laughable.  He was admitted to Stanford - with an SAT of about 1100 normed to the old, 1600-point system.

I would suspect that that is at least one and a half SDs - if not more - LOWER than the average admit.

Sherman is not a thug.  But let's be honest.  He got into Stanford because he could run and he could defend against the pass.

Richard Sherman is NOT exactly Richard Feynman.

Professional football is a sport in the sense that the Roman Colisseum was a sport.  And guys like Sherman are modern day gladiators.  His behaviour doesn't make him anything more than a boor and a loudmouth.  But that's what football fans want.

And pointing that fact out doesn't make one racist.

So sit down in your nagahyde recliner.  Open some off-brand domestic beer.  And enjoy the game.

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