If you missed the final seconds of the NFC playoff game, you missed a lot. After a fantastic contest between 49’s and the Seahawks, the final Superbowl contender would be determined and that decision would come down to the final play of the game. The 49’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, threw a pass to their best receiver, Michael Crabtree. In a feat of pure athletic precision, Richard Sherman immaculately intervened, tipping the ball, ending the 49’s last chance of possession and scoring a winning touchdown. Moments of glory and defeat caused united moans and cheers across a nation of living rooms. It was fabulous athletic drama and everything we love about competition.
But then the cameras remained on Richard Sherman. One player, who put together his natural talent and a well-rehersed, routine play at the most crucial moment of an extraordinary event, had the spotlight on him.
Instead of having a spotlight shine on his incredible professional skill, the spotlight revealed what was beneath his surface.
Instead of a celebration of team or even his individual conquest, Sherman directed a universal choking sign gesture towards Kaepernick and the 49er players, then ran to Michael Crabtree to mockingly shake his hand as if to say, “Thank you very much for giving me the great opportunity to use your lack of talent for my personal glorification”. It could be argued that Sherman was reacting in the heat of the moment, but enough time drfted allowing the adrenaline to subside before the interview that magnified what had already been witnessed. “Well, I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a receiver like Crabtree, that’s the result you are going to get. Don’t you even talk about me.” then in a much later defense of his post play self-adulation, “I’m a competitor. I don’t like people saying negative things about me and running their mouth, but I’m the best in the league.”
Sherman didn’t back down later either. He apologized to Andrews, then proceeded to call Crabtree “mediocre,” emphasizing each syllable. “I was making sure everybody knew Crabtree was a mediocre receiver,” Sherman said. “And when you try the best corner in the game with a mediocre receiver that’s what happens.”
It is sad. What could have been glorious has been so tarnished. A would-be hero has become a villain. Maybe Richard Sherman didn’t have anyone warn him about icebergs. Maybe he didn’t heed the warnings.
What can parents learn from Richard Sherman?
We can’t ever overestimate the strength of our child’s skill and underestimate the power of what’s below the surface in defining who they are and the level of succeess they’ll achieve.
Ten percent of an iceberg is seen. 90% of it is under the surface. What’s below the surface both supports what’s seen above and is most dangerous in sinking a ship. Our children’s natural talent and skill, the 10%, is what everyone first sees, but it’s the 90% parents need to ensure is guided well. A child’s character will define them long after their athletic pursuits are over. Parents, let the coach develop your child’s physical core strength while you coach their character core strength that will support all their success.
Coach your child to be self-centered, not self-aggrandizing:
- “Your performance will speak for you. Speak humbly, perform arrogantly.” Keep the priority on their own performance, how it was a result of the training they’re investing, the natural God-given-can’t-take-credit-for talent they have, and the people around them that they couldn’t have achieved anything without, and the bigger-than-them team goals. Their actions should flow from the inside, their center, out.
- “Do what’s right no matter what is happening around you.” Remind your child that even in the heat of battle, they must make the wise choice to do and say what’s respectful and honoring of the contest and the competitors. Don’t allow smack, trash-talking. “You do not climb higher by puliing down others.”
Parents. Remember. Your child will reflect your character. Demonstrate good judgement, wise choices, common sense as you stay centered on your performance as your child’s model.
Our house, among other things, is an Olympic house. From the opening ceremonies, to the extinguishing of the flame, our television is on and we join the world in being a part of the Olympic Movement. We’ve always gravitated to the Olympic spirit that calls on the youth of the world to come together, experience the variety of games and entertaining challenges, the intensity of competition, the effort, the struggle, the refusal to give up, the exhileration of pushing past all prior personal or team boundaries and become the best each competitor can become. Call us corny, but we