In Praise of Trash Talk and True Humility

What follows is a true and accurate account of every post-game interview ever given since the inception of time:

INTERVIEWER: Tell me about the game tonight. You guys pulled out the win. What were the keys to your success?

COACH / ATHLETE: Well, you know, we just did the right things at the right time. We executed, we made plays, we scored points. That’s what it really boils down to: scoring points and making plays. The guys really came together today. You know, nobody believed in us. All season long nobody believed in us. We made some belivers today.

INTERVIEWER: You had a great game today. You scored 55 points and had 13 rebounds. Why did you have such a great game?

COACH / ATHLETE: You know, I gotta give all the credit to my teammates. They got me the ball at the right time and made some great plays. You know, sometimes you’re just feeling it. I was able to execute tonight, but I got to thank God and thank my teammates first. I couldn’t do it without the other guys.

INTERVIEWER: Talk about your opponent. You beat them by sixty points. I mean, you totally obliterated those guys.

COACH / ATHLETE: Ah man, I’ve got tons of respect for those guys. They’re a quality team and they played a quality game tonight. They’re a great team with a great coach. We just got lucky tonight.

INTERVIEWER: In your next game you are favored by 103 points. In the game after that you go up against the number one team in the country. What’s your mindset right now?

COACH / ATHLETE: We’re just taking it one game at a time. We gotta prepare for our next opponent. We can’t look past our next game. I got tons of respect for our next opponent, and we really gotta prepare for them. We’re just giving 100%, one game at a time.

The above transcript has been repeated thousands of times by every coach and athlete who has ever played sports.

Except for Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman.

After he deflected the game-winning touchdown pass away from 49’ers receiver Michael Crabtree, Sherman flipped out in his post-game interview, proclaiming himself the best corner in the game and proclaiming Crabtree to be a “sorry” receiver. Check out his crazy interview in the video clip below.

Sherman was promptly taken to task by the media for his rather unsportsmanlike words. Yesterday Sherman apologized for “attacking” Crabtree and for “deflecting” attention away from his teammates.

Personally, I found Sherman’s rant a bit refreshing.

Was it wrong for Sherman to insult Crabtree? Yes. Was it arrogant to proclaim himself the best corner in the game? Yep. Were his remarks unsportsmanlike? Yes. Do I want my kids imitating Sherman? No.

But in our age of bland, vanilla, politcally-correct, mind-numbingly boring, falsely humble, everybody is a winner, gold stars for everyone, post-game interviews, it was kind of nice to see someone finally say what they really thought. It was kind of nice to see someone give an honest assessment of themselves and their opponent.

As I think about this whole situation, I’m reminded of what Paul says in Romans 12:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

True, God-honoring humility means thinking rightly about oneself. True humility means not thinking too highly of yourself AND not thinking too lowly of yourself. It means seeing yourself as God sees you. It means assessing your gifts and abilities and strengths with sober judgment.

I don’t want my daughters to think they can be whatever they want when they grow up. My oldest daughter, Charis, doesn’t seem to be particularly athletically inclined. She probably won’t play in the WNBA when she grows up, no matter how much she believes in herself. I suppose she could develop athletic skill later in life, but I’m not convinced it’s going to happen. She is, however, very creative. She builds wonderful Lego towers and creates mountains of drawings and paintings.

I want Charis to understand that God has given her particular strengths and has not given her other strengths. I want Charis to be able to evaluate her gifts soberly, with the proper judgment. I want the same thing for myself. I want to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses accurately. I think it would be accurate to say I’m a good writer. I’m not a great writer, like N.D. Wilson or Stephen King, but I’m good. It would be foolish and false humility to say I have no gifts whatsoever.

The way to grow in humility is by asking God to help us have sober judgment regarding our strengths and weaknesses. The way to help our kids grow in humility is by helping them accurately understand their God-given strengths and weaknesses.

We don’t need more trash talk. We do need more true, honest humility.

Comments

  1. says

    It was a crazy interview, wasn’t it! I’m thinking about it this way – in the heat of the game, on the field trash talk abounds. Most of it friendly banter, some of it not. But it’s considered part of the game – always has been, always will. ‘Good guys’ do it, ‘bad guys’ do it. Tim Tebow did it. And so did Jack Tatum.

    What Richard Sherman did in his post-game interview was show that he understood the bigger picture. That the ‘game on the field’ runs secondary to the much bigger stage of ‘the game in the media’. Two weeks out from one of the biggest sports-media circuses of the year (one in which Sherman will be a participant) this gifted athlete with a degree from Stanford (who is currently working on his Masters degree) “played’ the media like he plays receivers. I think he knew exactly what he was doing.

    So, while I’m agreeing with you concerning humility, I’m venturing to say that what Richard Sherman exhibited was not hubris, but rather an acute understanding that his post-game interview was him playing a part in an even bigger ‘game’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>