Richard Sherman’s Classy Coach

That Richard Sherman is such a nice boy.

Richard is the Seattle Seahawks cornerback who threw a hissy fit after the Hawks won the NFL West title.

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll
Pete Carroll (Click to enlarge. Credit: daveblack at english wikipedia)

I’ve been mighty impressed with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. I put Pete on a pedestal in a recent article, “Expansive Sports.”

So I was curious to see how Pete would handle Sherman’s outbreak.

I got my wish by way of an excellent ESPN Online feature: “Pete Carroll Talks to Richard Sherman,” by Terry Blount.

I was gratified – inspired, in fact – by Carroll’s classy handling of the matter. From the article:

 Carroll said [Sherman’s behavior] didn’t follow the guidelines he has for his players….

 “How we handle it is we try to grow and learn and work our way through who we are and figure out who we want to be. This was an extraordinary learning opportunity. You’ll see some benefit from it.”

Carroll said he handled it the same way he does when any of his players do something outside the boundaries of proper behavior.

“When you really love somebody and care for them, you do everything you can to help them be everything they can be,” Carroll said. “At times they are going to make mistakes and break your heart, but if you love them, you stay with them. You give [them] the best chance to be all they can be.

What can we learn from the way Pete Carroll dealt with the incident?

My reaction, when I finished the ESPN piece, was: “Jesus Christ, it’s wonderful – he hit all the right buttons.”

Carroll voiced the main talking point of Expansive Sports: that our mistakes don’t define us; what counts is that we learn from them and move forward in an expansive direction.

Another article put a different spin on the incident. The writer claimed that Sherman was a victim of white racism on the part of those who ridiculed his behavior. (“Stop Calling Richard Sherman a Thug,”) In a comment, I wrote:

Sherman indulged in contractive behavior – who hasn’t? And Pete Carroll’s handling of the event was masterfully expansive. That’s the difference. Sherman embarrassed himself. His behavior was infantile – again, who hasn’t? And Carroll gave exactly the right public response: forgive and move on. People are in this world to improve, not to be perfect. Boundless respect to Pete Carroll. And a big “Meh, so what?” to Richard Sherman. Behold the process of growing up. Sherman at least has the energy to lay it on the line and learn.

As runners, we get instant feedback whenever we behave contractively. Negative thoughts cause our energy to sag. Our form gets tangled, our legs get heavy, and we don’t feel much like persevering.

We need to learn to forgive ourselves endlessly. Like Richard Sherman, we runners are onstage, engaged with life. We aren’t fans, sitting on our butts, judging others. We lay it on the line. We stub our toes and take a header. We make a stupid mistake and sprain an ankle. We even get nasty thoughts and feel angry from time to time.

Never mind. Let it go and grow.

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