Amy Donaldson: Richard Sherman's rant should make us re-evaluate our acceptance of unsportsmanlike behavior
But, he added, you have to recognize that the person you are on the field cannot be the person you are off the field.
I thought about that statement a lot. Should we ask players to be that person? Could we expect them to control themselves, if that’s the kind of anger, energy and audacity it takes to compete at that level?
And then I looked at the majority of players who make that transition without incident, and I feel it’s not an unreasonable request to require civility — even seconds after a game-winning play.
But the real question I’m left pondering is whether the culture of sport should evolve. There are a lot of things we used to do that we no longer believe are acceptable. We have made some of those behaviors illegal (hazing), and if they’re not a crime, they’re certainly socially unacceptable.
Is it time for coaches to try and elicit excellence without resorting to vilifying other players? Is it time for players to summon their best without tearing others down in the process?
I believe the answer to these questions is yes. I believe that because I’ve watched athletes in nontraditional sports continue to evolve their games without degrading others. They seem just as dedicated, just as crushed by a loss and just as motivated to win, but without the venom that infects some of our traditional sports.
Maybe the best way to get in an opponent’s head isn’t to call him names or criticize his skills, but it’s to work hard, be better prepared and simply perform better when it matters most.
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