athletes vs the media--"i'm only here so i won't get fined."
Written By: Elliot Allen
Sports is an ever growing business in today’s society. The revenue generated worldwide has reached epic numbers that I thinks it’s a safe bet to say the fore-fathers of sports never would have imagined. One of the obvious reasons for this success is the overwhelming exposure and distribution of sports. A key contributor to this exposure is the Media! Media coverage puts sports in papers, on television, on radio, and, in modern times, social media. This coverage keeps sports visually in front of everyone’s eyes and constantly in our ears! A direct beneficiary from sports being a hugely expanding business is the modern athlete! The increased sporting world revenues have allowed athletes to have astronomical financial opportunities in their respective sports as well as opportunities outside of sport. Endorsement deals in some cases exceeds the salary of a player in their respective sport. While media has been one of the highways to the exposure that leads to great financial gains by today’s players, the relationship between the two has become increasingly strained! It is quite an interesting dynamic because the effect of this relationship greatly impacts the athletes in more ways than is obvious to the eyes. ......
While today’s athlete has benefited financially from the exposure by the media, the coverage has come at a great cost. Their private lives have become part of the exposure. The inner working of day to day activities involving their sport (i.e. locker room or practice issues), but outside of the actual game played is also part of the exposure by the media. The salaries and spending habits of players are just as common as reporting on the actual games. Interviews are mandatory, even at the most inopportune times. All of these factors have a heavy ramification on the athlete we see today. As a result, many players and coaches have developed an intense dislike for the media. We cannot overlook the fact that in some situations the players themselves contribute to the exposures previously mentioned. Let’s take a slow look at the root of some of that tension and how it can possibly effect athletes.
An earlier mentioned factor is players’ salaries being reported. Let’s examine how that can affect an individual. We all have jobs we go to and get paid. In our personal lives and in having a casual conversation, it can be seen as an offensive matter to ask a person how much money they are paid. It’s just as inappropriate for an employer to state in a room full of people how much money someone is making. Should the etiquette change because someone is an athlete? In some circumstances it can be dangerous revealing the salary of a player, subjecting them to becoming possible targets.
Another mentioned factor is the private life of an athlete being exposed. Players are human beings and make mistakes in their lives just like everybody else. Is it our right to know their personal challenges and judge them in regards? I often think of the trials and tribulations and bad judgments I have made in my life and cringe at the thought of it being in the newspaper, on the local newscast, or even a national show like Sports Center. Furthermore, having hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people weighing in on something I have not figured out for myself. How about the family members who are a part of the athlete’s personal life? Should this situation that may involve them and be very painful to deal with be subjected to public ridicule?
Finally, athletes are often put in situations to do interviews at difficult times. Life is difficult and WE are subject to deal with life at difficult times. However, should we be expected at those times to always have the correct composure? Do we as individuals have the ability during those times? So after a very tough, disappointing loss should we expect a player to speak in the post-game press conference and be fully composed? Should we expect players to address personal issues during interviews? As we look at these questions, I also raise the point that we want our athletes to perform the best they can in their respective sports. The mind plays a tremendous role in physically being prepared and ready to compete and play. So with all the mentioned factors of exposure going on, I would ask, are the players mentally being put in the best position to perform their jobs? I suspect most athletes would say this is a major contributing factor to the ugly tension between the media and athletes. The tension had boiled over to the point of disdain causing football player Marshawn Lynch to show up to press conferences stating “I'M JUST HERE SO I WON’T GET FINED.” and not answering any questions.
The Media HAS played a HUGE role in the advancement of sports today as we know it. Sports has become global and is ever expanding in the natural talent as we are seeing athletes coming from all around the world competing on a high level. I believe a big part of the media coverage is putting faces to the athletes. The public appreciates outstanding play, BUT they also like to get to know the players. Where is the line drawn? At times personalities in sport sell just as much as talent. Often it falls on media to paint that picture. At what cost do we paint that picture? Evolution of physical talent coincides with the evolution of reporting. The athlete of today is bigger, stronger and faster than ever before and the boundaries on what is exposed and reported on in regards to athletes is open wider than ever before. Probably the most profound fallout to the wider exposure is monetary gain by today’s player. So this is where the battle between athletes and media comes to an epic crescendo.
It was mentioned earlier the possible inappropriateness of players’ salaries being openly discussed. I’m quite sure the argument from the media’s standpoint would be that the reason athletes are receiving the large salaries they do is due to the exposure from the media! Giving the talent a face that fans can relate to producing more passion and more of a need to see them perform live, buy their jerseys, and sneaker. So with that being said, does that give the media the right to feel players should answer questions at all times and answer them under proper composure at all times. It boils down to a kind of “if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t be making your money” mentality. As well as the media does have a job to do. They, just as athletes, have a very competitive field. If one reporter doesn’t write the story, another reporter will. So the cycle continues and battle lines are drawn.
Ultimately both sides have valid points of frustration. I would challenge everyone to really look at this through each of the two lenses (the athlete’s lens and the media’s lens). I would also ask that a third lens not be neglected. That third lens is SPORTS! I LOVE SPORTS more than I do any one athlete or have interest in any one sports story. I believe the key element here is finding the medium to keep the integrity of SPORTS at a high level with the talent progressing. At times in today’s societal climate, it feels that all of those components are being severely compromised in sports. If the athlete’s mind is not conditioned to keep the big picture in focus, which is their respective sports, all the physical conditioning will stop SPORTS from progressing and eventually start to take steps backwards. The good news is that their minds are powerful and their minds have the ability to adapt and adjust to situations to help them stay on course. So I look forward to that and watching it as it develops. I LOVE SPORTS!