I didn’t think I really wanted to jump on the Richard Sherman bandwagon and address the rather crazy postgame interview he gave after the Seattle Seahawks’ recent win over the San Francisco 49ers. View it below if you haven’t seen it already.
It has received an exorbitant amount of publicity already, so my initial reaction was to simply leave it be. But when I saw this article from CBS Sports, which included quotes from an interview with sideline reporter Erin Andrews, I decided I couldn’t just ignore it. In the interview, Andrews said that she loved the interview with Sherman and that it was “awesome.” But the quote that stood out to me was this: “You expect these guys to play like maniacs and animals for 60 minutes. And then 90 seconds after he makes a career-defining, game-changing play, I’m gonna be mad because he’s not giving me a cliché answer, ‘That’s what Seahawks football is all about and that’s what we came to do and we practice for those situations.’ No you don’t. That was awesome. That was so awesome. And I loved it.”
There in lies the rub. Erin Andrews nailed it right on the head. Are there other appropriate idioms I can throw in here? The fact is that she is totally right. We expect these players to go out on the field, pump up the adrenaline, play like wild animals for 60 minutes, and then immediately shut off the crazy as soon as the clock runs out. It’s the law of inertia. An object in motion tends to stay in motion at the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. When you get that adrenaline pumping and that passion ignited, it doesn’t just disappear when the final whistle is blown. It lingers. And it creates patterns of behavior.
The Apostle Paul spoke about this when he wrote, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Why does Paul say that? What does is matter what kind of things we think about? Isn’t what we do more important?
What we think about and immerse ourselves in regularly is important because it affects how we act. Richard Sherman had immersed himself in the energy and adrenaline of the game. He had been taught that in order to play well you need to be passionate, intense, and a risk-taker. You can’t let anyone or anything get in the way of doing your job. You have to believe that you are the best and that you will win every time. If you let the intensity wane for even one second, you will fail. And once you set something like that in motion, it stays in motion…even when the game ends.
Now, I’m not making a statement about whether that intensity is right or wrong. I’m simply saying that we can’t expect players to be immersed in it one minute and then just shut it off when the whistle blows. In that same way, when we immerse ourselves in the negative things of this world (e.g. judgmentalism, gossip, pornography), it will get more and more difficult to turn those things off. The more force we exert in chasing those things, the more inertia builds up and the greater the force needed to stop those thoughts and behaviors. Christians love to talk about slippery slopes, but sometimes we should be more concerned about the force we are exerting than about the ground we are treading upon.
2. Philippians 4:8