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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Trash talk works on everybody

It happens in every sport. Lebron James does it. Ray Lewis does it. Derek Jeter does it. Michael Jordan, Deion Sanders, and Hank Aaron did it too. 

Do you want to be just like these past and present athletes? Have you ever wanted to intimidate your opponent with ridiculous taunts that may or may not be true? Ever wanted to talk about your friend’s mother while competing in sports? If the answer is yes, then trash talking is for you.

“My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable and I’m just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his children. Praise be to Allah,” said Mike Tyson right before the heavyweight title fight against Lennox Lewis.

As far as trash talking goes, his words make no sense at all. This is exactly the reason why they are so intimidating and frightening.

Athletes who are media loudmouths who express their thoughts and feelings to the world on a daily basis, like Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, are not true trash talkers. The best trash talkers are athletes who bite their tongues and keep silent until game day.

The trash talking commences on the field to disrupt the player’s mental concentration so the trash talker can get inside his victim’s head. Getting inside an opponent’s head is crucial because they aren’t going to concentrate on competing but rather what is being said about them. As soon as the opponent’s mind isn’t fully engaged in the game, mistakes are made.

Talking trash works for everybody and most importantly it works on everybody. It is just a question of about what type of insults you’re weak against. The art of talking trash lies in finding your opponent’s vulnerability.

However, anybody who actually means what they say in the area of talking trash is absurd. It’s called trash talking because most of what athletes use to intimidate players is, well, trash. This means the language used is either profanity or crazy insults that don’t actually have value. The goal is to persuade the opponent lose their focus and become more susceptible even if it is only for a few moments.

Phrases like “these two points are for your mama,” and “say hello to your wife and my kid” can be jarring even for professional athletes. Trash talking can also be used to insult a team to get your team fired up for a game. Former NFL tight-end Shannon Sharpe was a master at this.

“Home Depot doesn’t sell enough nails and plywood to fix what’s wrong with their defense,” Sharper said in response to the Colt’s lingering defensive problems.

Sometimes trash talking is about boosting your ego and playing up your abilities to frustrate opponents to make them feel that you are unbearable. Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders was great at this tactic.

“The cheerleaders were there to celebrate. I was there to score defensively. So I tried not to get too excited about getting into the end zone. I’d been there before and I was always planning to go back soon,” Sanders said.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) championship series between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz in 1997 is the all-time pinnacle of effective trash talking. The first game of the series was played on a Sunday. As Jazz star Karl Malone stepped to the free-throw line, the game was tied with less than 10 seconds left.

Malone’s nickname was “The Mailman” because he made numerous shots in crunch time in situations like this. However, Bulls Hall of Fame forward Scottie Pippen took a jab at Malone right before he shot his two free-throws, and said the famous line, “The Mailman doesn’t deliver on Sunday.”

It turned out Pippen made the right call as Malone missed both shots, which allowed for Michael Jordan to hit one of the most memorable buzzer-beaters in sports history to give the Bulls the win.  

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