By Brian Redmer
By now we have all seen it. Richard Sherman’s rant about Michael Crabtree after the Seahawks defeated the 49ers last weekend. It went viral, as did the responses. A lot of those responses were racially charged and in my opinion, far worse than anything Richard Sherman said.
One of the things I did agree with was that his actions were just a sign of poor sportsmanship. The way he went after Crabtree, and Crabtree’s face shove in retaliation were pretty classless for both parties. It was taunting at its worst and we’re seeing it more and more – not just from the players, but the coaches as well.
In the playoffs it is truly unnecessary. It takes away from the games when one or two players make it all about their rift with each other after a game is played. It carries over to the next game for the player whose team had won. The media eats it up, focusing on that one player far more than others, similar to the attention Sherman has been getting. It is sad. One small, isolated incident that is blown out of proportion, dissected and analyzed until we know everything that was said and how.
Yet, one professional league has had an answer for this in the playoffs. It is a simple moment done at the end of every playoff series. It seems to take the edge off of the players on both sides so that when they give an interview it is all about the two teams, and not about any one individual.
That league is the NHL, and the moment is the post-series handshake line. It is generally regarded as one of hockey’s best moments. Watching two teams who have just fought against each other in a playoff series come out, shake hands and offer words of either encouragement or congratulations.
It may be the single best ‘sportsmanship’ moment in all of sports, save for the exchanging of jerseys in soccer. It is best in the Stanley Cup Finals. One team celebrating, throwing equipment everywhere, the other team forced to watch, waiting for that lineup to shake the hands of the team that just beat them. It is an awesome moment as a fan if your team was victorious.
The NFL, MLB and NBA should follow this. Not for the fans, not for the media but for themselves. Anyone who has played youth sports has done this at one point, so why does it stop at certain levels. To go up to your opponent after a game and offer some small gesture of sportsmanship is what is right about sports. Imagine if this moment came at the end of the NBA Finals, the World Series or best, the Super Bowl.
Watching over 100 players, coaches and staff line up amid the confetti at the end of this country’s biggest sporting event would bring a genuine moment to a game that no sponsor could ruin. It would bring back a small part of what the Super Bowl has lost, and that is its identity as simply a game played between two teams for a trophy.
It would bring the players who played the game in contact with one another and give them a chance to reflect and toss aside anything that happened in the game. Had there been a handshake line at the end of the NFC Championship, I truly believe Richard Sherman’s comments would have been completely different.