Celebrating Success: What Is Taboo?
I know that, at this point, Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks has been talked about to the point of beating a dead horse to…well…death. Allow me this one last opportunity before the Super Bowl is upon us.
You may not care about football. That’s fine. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a nut over football season. I watch nearly every game, I’m involved in fantasy leagues, I follow my team (Green Bay, woo!) my team’s players, my fantasy players, our stats, who does well on the road and in cold weather, where my division rankings are. I’m a trash-talker, too–to the point of minute-by-minute Facebook/Twitter updates so that, if you weren’t watching, you can enjoy (or maybe hate it) as much as I do. And I, as you probably were as well, was bombarded with the “classless” act of Richard Sherman in his post-game interview with Erin Andrews, the one that happened immediately after Seattle secured their spot in the 2014 Super Bowl.
People were up in arms over this. Maybe you were one of those people, maybe you weren’t, maybe you couldn’t care less about all of this hullabaloo–do we even still use that word? Regardless, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, and it really got me thinking about post-victory celebrations–what is acceptable?
Richard Sherman was raked across the coals because of the boisterousness and perhaps obnoxiousness of his celebration. A lot of people said that he was “classless,” that he should have done what every other football player does in the wake of a win: smile for the camera, deliver his canned speech, celebrate in this way away from the public eye.
But do you celebrate your victories this way? Do I? Maybe we all should, but I know that I certainly can’t be the one to throw stones. When I close a deal at work, I have a tendency to throw down my headset and say, “CLOSED, #@$!!@)*!” (profanity that’s probably not appropriate on this medium, but is most definitely indicative of how accepting our office culture truly is.) I think about how my coworkers celebrate our victories–everything ranging from the slow clap to the cheering to the perhaps-more-profane. Would I celebrate this way in front of my clients or my candidates? Likely, the answer is no. But this is also indicative of the nature of my job and the nature of the relationships I have with my clients: they are not built on this kind of reactionary energy.
I also know how competitive our office is and how much we celebrate when we compete against one another and defeat our opponents (“Suck it, losers!“) We know that it’s all in good fun and no one takes it personally. We know our audience (and we are wildly competitive.) I also know that I don’t do a lot of trash-talking before the results are in–nothing is worse than doing a lot of smack talk and then losing…been there, done that. My rule? Stay silent until the victory is truly yours–then, no holds barred. I’m reminded of every time I played video games with old college classmates and won, throwing my controller down and screaming, “YOU LIKE THAT? YOU LIKE GETTIN’ OWNED LIKE THAT?”
Maybe it’s classless. Maybe I’m classless. I’m willing to accept that, mainly because I know that I understand my audience. But what about Richard Sherman? What if your audience is a good portion of America that barely knows you? Is it acceptable to show just how human you are in the adrenaline of that moment as a professional athlete? We ask these people to go out and do their job–which is to play sports fueled by testosterone, trash-talk, and rivalries–and then subdue themselves for our pleasure afterward, while we clutch our pearls and wait with bated breath? That seems like a superhuman effort on their parts; and I, for one, cannot fault someone for getting so completely caught up in their victory against many odds and saying whatever was on their mind at the time.
Then again, I know how I react when I win Mario Kart 64. I’ve never even gone to the Super Bowl. Cross your fingers, Danielle 2015.