Trash talk and video games have coexisted in an aggravating, symbiotic relationship since high scores and multiplayer came to be. Trash talk itself has been around since the beginning of time. Everyone has either done it or been around it, but is it always necessary?
I'm not a huge football fan, but I do keep up with the playoffs and enjoy watching the super bowl. I watched the Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers and I haven't been able to stop thinking about Richard Sherman's tirade after the game. If you didn't catch it, here's the clip:
In all honesty, my immediate thought was resentment. I thought it was uncalled for and I felt bad for the reporter trying to get a quick couple words from him. I now take back my resentment, and this piece really has nothing to do with the race controversy that came from that instance. This isn't about that.
Sherman had just sealed the deal for his team to go to the Super Bowl, so he should've been excited and he should've been jumping around yelling. He deserved to be thrilled with the victory. After some thought, and letting my immediate reaction dissipate, I still had an issue with part of it. He called out another player and took the opportunity to single him out on national television. I don't care what game you've won, that's something that will never sit well with me.
All of this got me thinking about the number of multiplayer games I play. In that moment Sherman looked to me the same way an 11-year-old looks when they scream into the microphone after a game of Call of Duty or Halo. It was like the postgame of a League of Legends match, and instead of "gg, way to go team! We rock!" it was "Crabtree is a noob. You suck, kid, I'm the best there is." It was childish.
In no way did he have to be calm and proper, or 'classy' as people keep saying. That's not required. He just won the game (though nobody seems to talk about the guy who actually made the interception), but it's not cool to me to put somebody down or bring them into your moment. They just lost and I guarantee they're already upset. Not only that, but it was a bad throw (that shouldn't have been thrown), and not the receiver Crabtree's fault. You should be able to walk away with victory being enough. Sherman earned my respect as a player, but he didn't as a person.
I know there's some backstory to this. The fact is, though, that people saw this… not the other scenario that supposedly led up to this. I've read a number of viewpoints about the whole situation. I see stuff like "boxers and fighters talk about each other like that all the time" and "he's an athlete, what do you want from him?" Well, I think if you do that it's immature. I don't care what you do for a living or how worked up about something you are. It's a game, an event, a sport. In reality, you did nothing. You participated in an irrelevant competition that neither helps nor hurts the human race as a whole. You are putting down another individual that tried just as hard as you so you can feel like you're a better athlete. You may have worked hard at it, but it's still meaningless overall. Now, if a doctor finds a way to wipe out AIDS first or finally figure out a way to create usable, sustainable fusion before anyone else… then you got something to gloat about.
"YEAH BITCH! JUST SOLVED THE GLOBAL ENERGY CRISIS! SUCK IT NOOBS!"
Sherman is a great athlete and totally earned his spot in the Super Bowl. He's awesome. He doesn't deserve to be lambasted for what he said, or how he said it. The critique of his interview has gone far enough. For me, it's not about any of that, I don't mean any disrespect at all toward him in any capacity other than the trash talk, the calling people out. Honestly, I don't care about football enough for it to affect me outside of that.
But kids watch football and kids see athletes and how they act. They want to be like them and imitate them. Athletes of all calibers become role models whether it's something they want or not. The last thing I want is a generation of kids yelling about being better than somebody after a game. They can be better, that's fine, and they can even be allowed to know it… but do people really want that kind of 'calling other players out' sportsmanship around? Keep it to yourself. People will see who is better; you don't need to tell us.
Thanks to multiplayer games of all kinds I'll never be okay with that type of post-game trash talk and it's always going to aggravate me. I'm decent at the games I play and I never have to deal with it personally, but I'm tired of seeing it from others. Maybe it's just me, just my opinion of it all. They are just games. Some people are good at them and some aren't. Some people make a decision that wins them the game and some make a decision that loses it for them, but both are trying the best they can.
I don't want participation ribbons, or "everybody is a winner"; there should be winners and losers. I want people to respect one another. It's even worse in video games because of the anonymity. The most venomous online communities on the internet belong to video games. Everyone is a bad ass when no one knows who you really are. There are exceptions, of course. Some of the best times playing multiplayer was trash talking with my friends at LAN parties and such… but they're my friends. Bottom line is if you're going to call people out, whether you win or lose, I'll always see you as that stereotyped screaming kid. That's just how I feel… but I think almost everyone can agree that multiplayer games would be a lot more fun if we took out the trash.
I'll leave you with this. A great example of the wonderful people you'll find online...