Sports & Society Blog Post #2
Richard Sherman, a talented cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks football team, has been all over the news in recent years. In addition to his skill, he’s known for his cockiness and trash talking both on and off the field. He had an infamous post-game interview after clinching the win in their NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers where he insulted one of the opposing team’s receivers.
Sherman just extended his contract on May 7th with the Seahawks signing a $57.4 million over 4 years deal with $40 million guaranteed. This makes him the highest paid corner in the league. I believe a large reason why he is now paid such a large figure is due to his explosion in the media which seemed mostly negative at the time. Sherman knew exactly what he was doing.
Giulianotti wrote in Sport a Critical Sociology (2005) that “massive volumes of capital are entering sport, notably from media corporations” (pg. 29). The more Sherman got his name in the news, the more money was generated around him. Sherman knew the attention would eventually pay off even if it was hard to bear for a while. After his tirade claiming to be the best corner in the world while insulting another player, Sherman received a flood of hate mail in every form of media. Guttmann listed equality as one of the main qualities that separates modern sports from primitive ones meaning that “theoretically everyone should have an opportunity to compete.” (2004: 26). Unfortunately, many people wished Sherman kicked out and people hurled racial slurs and racist comments his way. Some African Americans stated that they thought he had made blacks take a step backwards from the civil rights movement and were disgusted with his behavior.
However, Sherman never backed down. He stood by his claims to be the best through all the flak he got and continued to put up numbers to back it up. He went on a talk show with a popular sports analyst, Skip Bayless, and laid into him for not recognizing Sherman amongst the top corners. When talking to Bayless, Sherman said, “I’m better at life than you.” He received a lot of negative attention from that media appearance as well since it is almost unheard of for that personal of an argument to take place between and athlete and a show host.
Plenty of people did speak out on Sherman’s behalf though, and many people ended up supporting Sherman. He was listed in Time’s annual list of most influential people and invited to the White House correspondent’s dinner at which President Obama jokingly gave his own rendition of Sherman’s tirade. I think Sherman artfully created his image and knew he had the talent to back up all the attention he would receive. He funneled that attention into money. From the Seahawks blog, “Richard Sherman declared himself the best corner back in the NFL. Now he’s getting paid like it.”