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We're a mere two days past the annual commemoration of civil rights martyr Martin Luther King Jr., and like many "holidays" much of the world has moved past the thoughts we conjured up on Monday. Race isn't an issue we discuss in sports very often because the larger barriers were torn down over fifty years ago.

MLK's famous 'I Have a Dream' speech rocked the United States back in 1963, but in many ways sports was also walking the path of social justice during and before that famous oration.

Jackie Robinson broke the 'color barrier' in 1947 when he stepped onto an MLB field on a spring day in April. And on this day in 1962 (almost two years before King's speech) Robinson was voted into baseball's Hall of Fame -- the first black player to receive the honor. But how much has changed since then? When an educated graduate of Stanford University bares his emotions after an NFC Championship clinching play and many respond with thoughts of "Thug!," it can make us question if we've hit a wall culturally and in sports when it comes to racism.

Sound Off: What impact do you believe sports have had on racism or civil issues in your lifetime?

Sports Headlines for January 22, 2014

Member Comments
# 1 Jadakiss88 @ 01/22/14 03:40 PM
It is definitely an issue when a player shows that type of emotion and people call him a thug...yet he didn't curse, threaten, or physically attack anyone but then I realize it's the internet where everyone you don't like is either average, overrated, thug, racist , or some other would that people use too much.

I posed the question on Yahoo "How many Thugs do you know with a Masters degree from Stanford University ?" Of course I never received an intelligent answer that wasn't full of hate for this man simply based on his appearance and a bunch of down votes. So that should tell you how this internet social media age is a joke really.
 
# 2 Aggies67 @ 01/22/14 04:30 PM
The reaction to Sherman's rant had nothing to do with Racism. If he had been a white guy or a Hispanic or Asian, he would have been called "thug" as well. That's how people react when people go off on a tirade, screaming like a fool, arrogantly proclaiming himself the best cornerback in the NFL and calling out another player. No one knew the situation, no one knew what had gone on between he and Crabtree. All we knew is that here's this angry man screaming and hollering like a crazy nut. The reaction to his rant was natural.
 
# 3 Aggies67 @ 01/22/14 04:33 PM
And the "thug" comment was because of his lack of sportsmanship, especially the gesture toward Kaepernick.
 
# 4 Jadakiss88 @ 01/22/14 05:18 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aggies67
The reaction to Sherman's rant had nothing to do with Racism. If he had been a white guy or a Hispanic or Asian, he would have been called "thug" as well. That's how people react when people go off on a tirade, screaming like a fool, arrogantly proclaiming himself the best cornerback in the NFL and calling out another player. No one knew the situation, no one knew what had gone on between he and Crabtree. All we knew is that here's this angry man screaming and hollering like a crazy nut. The reaction to his rant was natural.
Actually that's not true....Richie Incognito threatened a fellow teammate and intimidated him but he was considered a bully. Richard Sherman does the choke sign (basically telling Kaepernick he choked) and he was still amped up from making the biggest play of the Seahawks season and is talking about a guy that he was trash talking with all season yet he's a thug...? Unsportsmanlike...yea. Immature...yea. Loud Mouth trash talking fool...yea. Thug LMAO!!! If people really knew what Thugs were that would be that last word they use to describe Sherman.

LOL!!! Alex Rodriguez made threats to people involved in his PED Case no one called him a thug...? So I don't get the "If he was white or hispanic he would get the same reaction," seeing that in the past that hasn't been the case.
 
# 5 supremeslang @ 01/22/14 05:42 PM
Thug has become a replacement for the N word in my opinion. How often do we call hockey players that fight 2 seconds after the face off thugs? Check the comment section of any Yahoo news story involving a black person, the racism displayed shows that the country hasn't changed as much as some would like to think.
 
# 6 Jamake1005 @ 01/22/14 09:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by supremeslang
Thug has become a replacement for the N word in my opinion. How often do we call hockey players that fight 2 seconds after the face off thugs? Check the comment section of any Yahoo news story involving a black person, the racism displayed shows that the country hasn't changed as much as some would like to think.
I completely agree with 100%
 
# 7 Jamake1005 @ 01/22/14 09:07 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jadakiss88
Actually that's not true....Richie Incognito threatened a fellow teammate and intimidated him but he was considered a bully. Richard Sherman does the choke sign (basically telling Kaepernick he choked) and he was still amped up from making the biggest play of the Seahawks season and is talking about a guy that he was trash talking with all season yet he's a thug...? Unsportsmanlike...yea. Immature...yea. Loud Mouth trash talking fool...yea. Thug LMAO!!! If people really knew what Thugs were that would be that last word they use to describe Sherman.

LOL!!! Alex Rodriguez made threats to people involved in his PED Case no one called him a thug...? So I don't get the "If he was white or hispanic he would get the same reaction," seeing that in the past that hasn't been the case.
Thank you. They never call white or Hispanic athletes thug NEVER. Kaepernic did interview last year before the game against the Falcons he had his hat slightly tilted to the side. I read a couple comments on Twitter with ppl saying oh he looks like a thug smh. It's ridiculous. It's funny just like Supremeslang said I think Thug is a replacement for N word. It's ridiculous smh.
 
# 8 MLcardinalfan @ 01/22/14 09:34 PM
Give me a break with this being about race. It's about bad sportsmanship. When I watch PROfessional sports, I expect class, not WWE or UFC trash talking. If the XFL ever comes back, Richard Sherman would be a perfect candidate for that league, he could even have I'M THE BEST for his name on back of his jersey.

I think a lot of professional sport athletes act badly, whether people call them thugs, punks, or jerks, it's all about the way a player conducts himself on the field and after the game. I see a lot of shoving around and trash talking going on between players after a play is over, and all races are involved, and I tired of seeing it. There's no Sportsmanship in sports any more.
 
# 9 supremeslang @ 01/22/14 10:04 PM
MLcardinalfan I can respect someone's opinion if they said Sherman displayed bad sportsmanship. That's probably true even though I personally enjoyed the rant. My issue is with the people judging his character without really knowing him. Facts are he is a Stanford graduate that gives back to his community often. He makes a couple heartfelt statements after making the biggest play of his life now he is a thug? That's ridiculous and this is one of the most overblown stories I ever seen.
 
# 10 MLcardinalfan @ 01/22/14 10:35 PM
Supermesiang: He may be a Stanford grad, I should know, I'm a Stanford supporter, but he wasn't born and raised in Palo Alto. Throughout this season, I've seen Sherman display bad sportsmanship in most games I've seen him in. I'm glad he at least gives back to his community, but he also leaves a bad example to young aspiring athletes. Growing up, I admired Willie McCovey, Franco Harris, Jerry Rice, and many others that showed great playing, professionalism and class. What I'm trying to say is, just shut up and play the game, I don't need to see the reality show drama queen rants during and after the game.
 
# 11 supremeslang @ 01/22/14 10:47 PM
I respect your opinion, but everyone is not wired like Peyton Manning. I find it refreshing to see an athlte actually speak his mind once in a while. The fans curse, scream insults and throw stuff at the players all the time, yet we want the players to be choir boys.
 
# 12 MLcardinalfan @ 01/22/14 11:07 PM
Fans need to start showing some class and sportsmanship as well, but that's been getting worse over the years as well. Just as the behavior of players on and off the field have been getting worse.
 
# 13 Jadakiss88 @ 01/23/14 09:33 AM
Real Thugs : Pacman Jones & Aaron Hernandez

Now compare them to Richard Sherman and see how many similarities you come up with. Don't worry I'll wait!!
 
# 14 BengalsFan99 @ 01/23/14 11:39 AM
It amazes me that people forget how this country was formed. If you study American history it should NOT surprise ANYONE that this man is attacked. LOL I mean lets be REAL: this country is built on hate and Racism. The Native people of America were nearly killed off completely and the African people were brought here enslaved to build its wealth. Racism in sports will never go away, because this country was founded on HATE/Racism its the HEART of America. If you think differently, then you haven't been paying attention.

And I don't want to hear "Oh you people need to forget about slavery!!! Ask a Jewish person to forget about the Jewish Holacaust.....It won't happen, and it shouldn't!
 
# 15 khrag @ 01/24/14 03:32 AM
I don't think people were calling him a thug for his emotion, I think they were calling him that because of what he said "if you talk about me I'll shut your mouth for you" stuff he said. Most people can't understand that he meant by his play, not that he would physically do it.

But to say that they are calling you a thug is like the new N-word, is frankly beneath a Stanford graduate.

To Richard Sherman: you are the best CB playing at the moment, enjoy it while it lasts. Remember, Derrel Revis was once the best CB playing. The play you made to end the game was fantastic, one of the best defensive plays I've seen in years, but, there was no need to go get in Crabtree's face and say good game, was just looking for trouble. You didn't have to rub his nose in it, your play already did.
 
# 16 Trojan Man @ 01/24/14 11:26 AM
This is the most interesting discussion to happen on OS since I've been here. This is precisely about race, and I think the poster remarking that "Thug" has become a euphemism usable by Whites for a more sinister epithet is right on.

Before stating my position, I should say that Glass needs a real education in American history. I happen to teach colonial American literature at the university level, and we just covered Columbus, Cortés, and a priest by the name of Bartolomé de las Casas in my survey course. In his Diario, Columbus suggested that Native Americans were natural slaves and should be subjugated and put to work. The proposition was rejected, as the sovereigns and many intellectuals knew 1) that wasn't a Christian thing to do, and 2) Indians were possessed of reason, culture, and religion, which meant they couldn't be considered barbarians and natural slaves. Unfortunately, the exigencies of colonial development pushed colonists to enslave Natives as Columbus suggested--this was especially the case where silver or gold mines were thought to be, as in Peru and Mexico. The encomienda and repartimiento systems developed, which were forced tribute-labor systems in theory but slavery in practice. These facts show that the enslavement of non-Europeans was part of the European vision for America since the beginning. Even the great defender of Indian rights, Las Casas, wasn't against slavery outright--in 1516, he argued that Indian slavery should be replaced with...wait for it...African slavery. In 1518 this started, with 400 African slaves being shipped to Jamaica. The rest is history. Of course, the Spanish colonies developed slave economies more quickly than the English or French because the Spanish got settled first, but slavery was just as central to the economies of those empires, especially in the Caribbean.

The argument that Indians were inherently savage is absolutely false. Some practiced ritual cannibalism, which of course freaked Europeans out, but many had advanced cultures that clearly marked them as fully human. The complexity of Tenochtitlan, for example, makes that case. The histories of the Pequot War and King Philip's War in New England between Puritans and Indians also makes the case, as those wars were instigated by the aggressive land-grabs of English colonists (and some unfortunate killings of Indians by Whites). Howard Zinn covers this in his People's History of the United States--you should check it out. His account of Iroquois culture offers a stunning refutation of your argument that there was no culture, law, or whatever among Native populations. It's just a false argument; you have to do better than that.

As a literary historian, the angle that interests me is genre. There's a great blog post here about the post-game interview as a genre and its expectations: http://www.avidly.org/2014/01/22/we-talkin-bout-genre/. The argument there is basically that the post-game interview is a genre built around the denial of the fact that the athlete in question has just been immersed in a three-hour long exercise in violence and brutality. While the entire game is predicated on acts of violence and the exercise of competitive egos, the post-game interview seeks to reassure the audience that the entire event was really a civil affair by asking athletes to talk in vague cliches about "competition" and "preparation" and "execution." I don't think we should blame athletes for not playing to the conventions of that genre, which is less concerned with saying something true about what just happened and more concerned with convincing the audience that we're not the real barbarians for having just glutted ourselves on violence...for fun.

Richard Sherman violated the conventions of genre, but that doesn't make him a "thug." If there's thuggery in pro sports, its home is not in the predominantly Black NFL, but in the predominantly White NHL, where the violence we associate with the sport (fights) isn't actually a part of the game, like violence in the NFL is. If a White player violated the conventions of genre in a similar way, would he be a "thug" in popular discourse? Probably not. The inconsistency in our use of labels like this is, I think, what leads people to conclude that the reaction to Sherman has a lot to do with his race. I find it hard to get around that argument.

A more sensible position would be to say that Richard Sherman knows that he is an entertainer and that reporters live for moments of honesty such as he gave. He said what he said because he's a competitor and a performer, period, not because he's a "thug."
 
# 17 Sjhone30 @ 01/26/14 06:33 PM
The problem is that ppl think a football player or any pro athlete for that matter is supposed to switch his/her emotions on and off before and after the game. Ppl also forget that american football is a very violent sport in which emotions run high throughout, especially after big moments such as that one. I guess no one saw Sherman go over to Crabtree to display the sportsmanship that everyone claims he lacks, but Crabtree pushed away his handshake. Why because his EMOTIONS were high just after that play. The reporter caught Sherman just after the exchange with Crabtree and got the first reaction. And subsequently blown way outta proportion.
 
# 18 Sundown @ 01/26/14 06:52 PM
Sherman isn't a thug. That's the wrong word to use for his behavior. So is "passionate". Sherman was just acting classless and douchey.

I don't really buy that all sorts of behavior can be excused or even applauded because players are "emotional" or "passionate". There are plenty of players and champions that are competitive and love the game deeply who don't undermine the game by disrespecting their opponents publicly after a win.
 
# 19 Cletus @ 01/27/14 12:14 AM
It's a business move that happens in sports all the time. He made himself a household name, that equals more dollars. People will pay both to cheer and boo him, all he needs in Jimmy Hart or Paul Bearer to help him on the sidelines with his persona.
 
# 20 Bellsprout @ 01/27/14 12:28 AM
I don't think we're allowed to talk about this.
 

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