YOU TALKIN’ TO ME – JUNE 5
By ISM Staff

SHOULD PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES DO MANDATORY MEDIA SESSIONS

Listen up because I’m talkin’ to all of you.  Media sessions for professional athletes should be mandatory but I’ll add a couple of very important caveats to it.

Pro athletes should follow the first two theorems from the  “Warren Sapp School of Media Relations” when they are asked a question by the press that they don’t particularly like..  The first is the most important one and that is when Big #99, who was always accessible to the media, didn’t like the question that a member of The Fifth Estate had just asked.  His answer was simply and succinctly “next question” and that was it.  It didn’t matter if it was someone with a national reputation or a local scribe, if the Hall of Fame Defensive Lineman didn’t like the query you put forth, for whatever reason, he moved on and that was it.  Pity the individual who tried to “backdoor” a response by reworded a follow up because you would get the infamous “Silent Stare of Death” from the former Miami Hurricane star.

If the first remedy didn’t work, the second method that the Bucs Ring of Honor recipient would use would be to verbally dress down a member of the media.  If he thought the “next question” response wasn’t strong enough, Sapp would call out that reporter and, on no uncertain terms, let that individual know how flat-out stupid that inquiry happened to be using, at times, some extremely colorful verbiage.

Now, my fellow staff members, I must admit I have heard some just awful questions from our media brothers and sisters.  The worst, and it will always stick in my mind as the gold medal for dumb questions, was the one asked of former Bucs quarterback Doug Williams when, as a member of the Washington Redskins (hey, that was their name at the time so don’t jump all over me for being historically correct, ok) preparing for the Super Bowl, was asked by someone, “How long have you wanted to be a black quarterback?” and the incredulous look on the face of #12 showed his displeasure for that completely ludicrous query.

So, there you have.  Yes, professional athletes should be required to do media sessions but they should also have the right to decline, or even call out, a media member who just asked an idiotic question.

The ball is in your court now.  What say you because I’m talkin’ directly to you.

Low Ball, your use of Warren Sapp as the litmus for this argument is a Low Blow. And, it directly supports my argument against requiring athletes to “talk” to the media. Do you think that what Warren did there qualifies as talking to the media, LB?

Sparing us the “next question” command or the “stare of death” is better than this forced form of disingenuous communication. This stuff is not newsworthy and does not help anyone.

Of course, it is nice to get some insight from players throughout the season and about critical spots in the games they play, but your Warren Sapp example proves how you can not require it. How can anyone force collaboration and cooperation, Low Ball?

So, I say, let them say whatever they like or as little as they like. We all know the good guys in sports are the transparent ones. They are given a platform, but the nature of their jobs, to be open, helpful, insightful, and even impactful to your people. For this reason alone, we cannot force these athletes to talk to the media.

Charades is a family game for a Friday night, not a required exercise for professional athletes who prefer not to talk to the media. Low Ball, you need to re-calibrate this one, my friend. Your wanting athletes to share has clouded your ability to see that this cannot be forced.

Adam Sznapstajler

I can’t believe I have to start with maybe my ten least favorite words in the English language. Low Ball, I am going to agree with you here.

I think it’s imperative that athletes are available to the media, simply for the fact that they are business partners. However, as always, I would like to throw my own middle ground solution into the mix.

We all know that press conferences can often end up dull, with athletes given pre-determined sound bites. Occasionally, you might get a good answer, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Low Ball, I’ll also agree with you here, sometimes the questions can also get absurd. This often comes during larger events like the playoffs or championship events, as it attracts more than just sports media but “want-to-bees” that have no business being granted a credential.

Athletes also often give more honest answers and opinions in longer profiles, creating relationships with the journalist.

So in order to save the athlete from the monotony and sometimes idiocy of the press conference they should be required to spend a certain amount of time with the media in a season. Whether this be press conferences, individual interviews, podcasts, or more. This would work as some type of media credit that you would need to complete in order to compete. This will allow the athlete to control more of their voice while also satisfying the media partners need for content.

So Low Ball, I’m talkin’ to you and I hope this will count instead of my next press conference.