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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why Reporters Shouldn't Debate Richard Sherman (Hint: He's Smarter Than They Are)

When Jon Gruden bolted the Oakland Raiders for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2001 season, Raider fullback Jon Ritchie remarked, "It was a little shocking, the alacrity with which he departed." Ritchie's remark reportedly sent several journalists scrambling because they didn't know what "alacrity" meant. Turns out, Ritchie graduated from from Stanford, and much to the chagrin of the assembled reporters, he might have been the smartest guy in the room.

This does not mean that all Stanford athletes are smart (although most of those I got to know while working as a teaching assistant at Stanford during my graduate school days were quite bright) or that athletes from other schools are not. It does suggest, however, that when interacting with former Stanford students a good working hypothesis is that they probably aren't stupid.

That is why I was surprised to learn that on Super Bowl media day that a reporter got into a debate with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who attended Stanford as an undergraduate. Whatever one might think of Sherman (and I'm not one of his biggest fans), one thing is for certain: he's very bright, so why a reporter thought she could go toe-to-toe with him is beyond me. Some of his remarks to her are classic:
It's difficult to have a discussion with someone who has no information. You don't have any information. I have all the research. I'm doing your job for you... I wish this would be a better debate, but ... the levels aren't there for us.
I suspect they weren't (on the same level that is) or that she had done her research (I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn the Sherman had done his). My guess is that most reporters think they're smarter than the players they cover, but I doubt they actually were. They might have more education, but that doesn't mean they're smarter. Not by a long shot. In fact, I'd be willing to be they'd trade places in a heart beat. I know I would.

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