Posts Tagged ‘anger’


Flipping a switch: Abuse is wrong in a violent (NFL) workplace

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Ever since the media explosion in October 2013 following Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin’s decision to leave the team due to an abusive work environment, jock pundits struggled to understand his courageous decision. Martin, the target of racial and hateful mistreatment, was blamed. Further, jocks (and much of mainstream pro football-crazed America) described abusive locker room conduct as an indispensable part of the NFL job.

Jump forward to Sunday January 19, 2014. Seattle Seahawk safety Richard Sherman blocked the pass that would have put the SF 49ers in the Super Bowl. With the block and only seconds remaining in the game, Sherman cemented the win for his team, and the Seahawks advanced to the biggest game of the season. In the immediate aftermath, while running off the field, he gave a now infamous rant to Erin Andrews and the national TV audience.

All interviews thereafter with the sought-after Sherman were a disappointment if interviewers expected the rage to be repeated. He apologized for a personal attack on the 49er receiver he had bested. But he taught the nation lessons in how American racism resides barely under the surface.

For our purposes here, Sherman’s most astute statement was to a CNN interviewer after the on-field rage. His explanation is critical to understanding how abuse can happen in a violent sport, “barbaric” in his own words. He distinguishes play on the field that is necessarily brutal to be successful from how players should conduct themselves off the field, in the locker room and when they re-enter civilian off-the=field life. I call it the Sherman Switch. Listen to his brief explanation. Mature players, currently all men, flip that switch. It is clearly “manly” to do so. He even eschews fighting.

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