Illuminated Parenting

Things to Tell Your Kids: The Richard Sherman Interview

What you might want to tell your kids about the Richard Sherman rant that hadn’t crossed your mind.

Likely that many families have seen and are teaching about the Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman’s famous rant after the NFC Championship game. Discussions probably surround the topics of values, sportsmanship, race, and hopefully a look at the circumstances around why such a rant may happen.

Part of those circumstances that parents may want to include, but does not necessarily cross one’s mind, is the role of the media. The sports media uses sideline interviews in hopes of catching a less controlled response – and that’s what they got minutes after the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC Championship. (In full disclosure – I am a huge Seahawks fan).

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was interviewed on the sidelines in what has now been seen as the “rant of a thug” as some would say. The upset is that Sherman was overly angry and critical of an opposing team player. Not what people expected. I think we all thought we’d see an exuberant, excited winner. Instead we seemed to get a hostile, classless, out of control winner. Initial responses by many were – wow, that was offensive. These unguarded 18 seconds provide a great opportunity to talk as a family about your values.

Those of us who are Seahawks fans feel we know a little about the Shermanator, his funny, arrogant, jubilant ways. He’s intense, cocky, devoted, and extremely talented. He comes from a difficult background and yet still fought his way to the top of his profession via Stanford University. We admire him even if he did seem crazy at the end of the game. Although we may not have liked what he did, we knew there must be more to the story.

Ah, The Story.

Why have we got this huge media story? Richard Sherman is now the most sought after interview. He’s big news. Why? Well, legitimate media wants to know more about that rant. Mainstream media wants to increase viewership, which is why they do sideline interviews like that, hoping for something they can capitalize on. Ultimately, he’s a big interview because the media hopes for another crazy outburst to up their viewing numbers.

Reminding your kids that the media’s main job is to increase viewership and therefore bring in more money, not necessarily responsible journalism, is key in understanding how these events occur. Will we get the full story on Sherman? What part of the media is acting responsibly, providing a complete look at the issues raised?

When television broadcasting was first developing, news was a required 30-minute public service that had no financial gain for the broadcasting network or local stations. News was strict in refraining from opinion and assigning thoughts and feelings to people the news was reporting on. Today most media takes great lengths to guess what people are thinking and feeling because it makes for a better story. Doesn’t matter if the person being reported about actually feels and thinks that way or not. And it’s impossible to counter a media story without sounding defensive.

Media as Money-Maker

At some point news turned into a profit maker therefore becoming more strident in it’s need to bring increasing viewers relying on shock and awe. Sherman was an excellent example of how this works for the media. This is important for your children to know because it allows them to understand how skewed mainstream media is in order to keep people tuning in. When children know the media exaggerates and trims information to make it more frightful, scandalous, or outrageous, then they can relax, realizing it is not an accurate reflection of reality.

I was fascinated when the Seahawks arrived in New York/New Jersey for the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson, the Seahawks quarterback, had fewer reporters at his news conference than Richard Sherman. When asked, Wilson smiled and said it didn’t bother him. When Sherman was amiable and politically correct, reporters began to dwindle. Off looking for a better, flashier story?

Expand the Family Discussion

  • What does the Richard Sherman story say about what some of the media is looking for?
  • What do your kids need to know about the media and how it functions?
  • What is hard news? What is opinion?
  • Do we have much hard news in our society today?
  • What do we believe about the media? Is it accurate in today’s world?

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4 Comments

  1. Jacob Block says:

    Great conversation-starter, Melinda!
    I would have loved some dialogue tips like this when I was younger for a couple of reasons:
    1. Sports was never instilled as an “important” social activity, though I can see that for most American boys my age, it IS that, and so much more.
    2. You don’t QUITE divulge your own opinion here, which is great to spark a fresh conversation, but I DO: I think Sherman’s joyous post-game rant was entirely appropriate. Sports fires people up, and kids should know how very much context informs what is “right” or “wrong” to say in a given situation.
    3. Your ACTUAL point – that sports is just one of the many faces of big$$ media – is something any young person should be taught as early as appropriate. Much like the Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, other little things we have to be a bit more honest about.

    Excellent blog, I will keep reading!

  2. Laurel Andrews says:

    Than you for an interesting and thoughtful blog on Richard Sherman.

  3. Darrell Kirk says:

    Very timely story! Thank you.

  4. Thomas Zelinsky says:

    My take on the story is this. The media complains when they get the common generic, for the greater good of the game responses. And they complain when they get a spirited response from an emotional situation. Either way the media will find a way to find a fault in game responses. I for one had no problem with Sherman’s rant. Not to say it wasn’t a bit over the top. But I’d rather have a truthful expression of ones thoughts, then to have a watered down blanch quote given by most athletes.

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