Sunday, January 9, 2011
"So...yeah." The Wisdom of Sports Interviews
Why does the media interview sports people?
They don't say anything interesting or enlightening or even entertaining.
They just look to the side, stumble through a mental list of banal platitudes, pick one and blurt it out as quickly as possible.
What's even more ridiculous is accosting athletes away from the game, like at the airport. They're tired, grouchy, vulnerable and this on top of an existing inability to summarise the complexities of their athletic achievements.
Perhaps this painfully boring, painfully expected event is so shit to witness because these vessels of intellectual precision are only ever asked lame-arsed questions (or response prompts). Perhaps it's because sports people don't do interesting or enlightening on the fly. Perhaps sports people don't have any idea how they do what they do.
Whatever it is, please stop. Play the game and piss off. We don't need to hear that the game went very well/could've gone better and you'll do better next time, so...yeah.
It appears that using your brain to speak is a challenge beyond the reach of any training, physical fitness, competitive spirit and all that other machismo shit handed down from the stone age.
It appears from the pathetic pithy platitudes that are mumbled from panting athletes on the sidelines, spitting into a phallic microphone wielded by someone less interesting than the microphone, that answering the incisive questions of sports interviewers is just too much for your average sports-person.
But how can it be? How hard is it to anticipate the obvious and respond in kind?
Think about it. You've just won/lost a big game. Some heavily-made-up little girl dressed to go night-clubbing is waiting for you to wander over. She's very likely going to ask you a question along the lines of the "How was the game? What happened?" Simple yet direct.
What else could she ask? "So, how would the battle of Agincourt have gone without the addition of the longbow to the English arsenal?"
Here's a few examples of typical sports interviews:
- Interviewer "He had you five-three in the first set, what were you thinking at that point in the match?"
Rafael Nadal "Well, he was playing fine. I was probably playing a little shorter than usual. He was playing aggressively... just keep fighting and we'll see how we go... He was playing better than I was."
- Interviewer "Well, Sterling, a far more composed performance. You didn't have a lot of ball, but what you did have you did a lot with."
Sterling Mortlock "Yeah... I think it was ah... improvement from last week... pretty positive, ah.. looking at the bench at the end of the match, a fair few injuries, so... we'll have to see how we are for the next few weeks."
- Interviewer "Congratulations. A food first set, but tightened a little for you in the second."
Venus Williams "Yeah, um... I think, you know, she really played well, um... I have to give her credit for really... raising her game... really, ah, she played so well... such a deep ball, you can mix it up... I mean, she has great things in her... she just has to stay healthy."
Wow! Now I completely understand how they played well/badly and as a result won/lost.
Imagine if scientists and innovators were interviewed:
Interviewer "So, Einstein. Well done with Relativity - especially the specific theory. You've made Newtonian physics look sloppy and invalid."
Albert Einstein "Ja, vell, zee sing to remember is zat every sing is relatif. Zere iss no "shloppy", only "shloppier" or "less shloppy".
Actually, how would King Henry's interview gone?
"Well, Your Highness. Congratulations."
"So, it was looking dicey there when the first left flanking attack failed to split the French main effort. But the longbows had a field day with the French cavalry, when they got bogged down. How did you feel the battle went and what were your key learning points?"
"Well, Nicole, those French bastards sure know how to eat cheese, but their over-reliance on mounted troops was their undoing...
Conclusion: The modern-day sports interview is just dumb. Dumb questions, dumb sports persons, dumb responses. Guys, just play the fucking sport and we'll guess what you would have said... concluding, of course, with "so... yeah."