Taking Out the Trash Talk

 Few will question the greatness of Michael Jordan. His legacy as a basketball legend will live on beyond his famous dunks, Space Jam cameo, or the sneakers bearing his silhouette. Jordan has become synonymous with greatness in any arena. For example, if there’s someone in your math class that excels at everything they do in class, you may say that individual is the “Michael Jordan of algebraic equations”.

There’s one thing that Jordan did that, while humorous at times, showed just how brash his ego was. As great as Jordan was in the game of basketball, he was equally “skilled” at talking trash. He would be quick to let an opponent know he was going to humiliate him.

Jordan’s trash talk was often accepted and tolerated because he was so good at backing it all up. And he wasn’t the only trash talker from the world of sports: Guys like Muhammad Ali and Charles Barkley both did their fair share of smack talking during their careers. So the question is, if some of the great pro athletes of all time to verbally taunt their opponents, should you do the same?

What Trash Talk Does

Before you get in the face of an opponent to let them know how great you are or, even worse, how bad they are, think about what trash talk might reveal about you. The words you speak, like your actions, translate for those around you as to how your character is. Trash talk often gives the impression of a prideful person because trash talk is self-serving. It holds no purpose other than to glorify your own accomplishment and tear down the effort of your opponent.

Sports are supposed to be fun. They are just games after all, and you wouldn’t be participating in them if you didn’t enjoy them. Trash talk might be making your own personal experience more “joyful”, but consider this: how is it affecting the joy of your opponent?

Don’t Get Personal

Most everyone who has ever played even a remotely competitive level of sports has experienced trash talk from at least one side or another. Most would agree that on a very surface level, trash talk is relatively harmless. But when it gets personal, it’s like taking a match to a gasoline soaked stack of newspapers.

You’ve heard the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Few things rattle the mind of any athlete like something derogatory being said about a member of their family, or something about their physical appearance. When trash talk escalates to the point of attempting to emotionally wreck someone else, it’s gone too far.

Trash Talk in Reverse?

As much as Michael Jordan and others are known for being trash talkers, Indianapolis Colts’ QB Andrew Luck is known for doing the opposite of trash talk. It’s a well-known fact among NFL defenders that after they make a sack or a big hit on Luck, he’s the first one to tell them good job. No matter the stakes of the game, Andrew Luck appreciates the hard play of his opponents. Not only does he appreciate it, he verbalizes it by saying “wow that was a great hit!” Linebackers walk away puzzled. Did they guy they just knocked down tell them “good job”? Why would Luck do that?

Maybe it’s because Andrew Luck, like the rest of us who play sports, does so for the fun of it. And sports is a lot more fun when the players from both sides respect each other.