Ok, so I imagine everyone with a Facebook account has watched or at least heard about Richard Sherman's epic post game trash talking session, hosted by Erin Andrews. There is an awful lot of noise surrounding this issue, and absolutely no shortage of articles, videos, and other internet goodies. Just Google Richard Sherman, and be ready to sacrifice a few hours to the internet.
I love Richard Sherman. I grew up in Tacoma, WA, and am a devoted 12th Man. I am absolutely thrilled to watch the Seahawks take on the Broncos in what has been termed "The Ganja Bowl" because both Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana earlier this year. I have enjoyed every second of Richard Sherman locking down receivers and freeing up his mouth. An absolute internet genius put together a video of all the best Sherman moments over the years.
But, what I want to concentrate on here is what I will call the Rhetoric of Talking Trash. Here is the basic formula, as far as I can tell:
1. Denigrate the abilities of your competitor
2. Extol your own virtues and abilities, as well as the struggle you went through to reach the pinnacle of your profession.
NOTE: The order of Steps 1 and 2 are negotiable.
3. Denigrate anyone you consider to be a "naysayer" or potential ally to your enemy.
5. S/he who loses his/her temper, loses the game.
Every rhetorical strategy should have a purpose. I think this is where a lot of people base their dislike of trash talk; they see it as a useless device. However, I would argue that talking trash serves a very important goal; it is about self-confidence, about the type of brazen, head-held-high, no-one-can-stop-me, it's-not-arrogance-if-it's-the-truth belief in oneself that I love to see.
Humility has its place. But so does some swagger. Go Hawks.