Picture a particularly tough day at work for yourself, and then imagine discussing that day with members of the media after you clock out. Then the following morning you wake up to a newspaper article or a blog discussing your pitfalls. In essence, this is the nature of a postgame press conference and subsequent analysis in sports.
While other forms of entertainment garner critique and criticism, rarely does it happen in real-time. It must be a challenging situation for a player or coach to immediately assess, analyze, and then articulate your feelings on a particular play or game. I cannot imagine they enjoy it very much, and I often wonder how much the fans gain from these interviews. There are certainly positives and negatives to media obligations.
Let us start with the positives, because receiving internal team information is essential for any fan or media member who follows the team. Fans deserve to know about injuries, roster decisions, and the overall state of the organization. While a bit formal at times, this obligation at least forces an organization to be forward facing, regardless of what they end up telling the media. If we were only left with press releases, I think there would be an even larger personalization gap between members of the team and the fans.
Fans also expect players and coaches to be accountable for play on the field, and a postgame press conference is a good way to at least question decisions or actions. It also lends coaches and players an opportunity to tell their side of the story. On paper, a simple question and answer seems like a reasonable way to go about receiving information, but rarely does the desired effect of a postgame interview occur.
Accountability is one thing, but these players and coaches are so well media trained that it is hard to decipher what is truth and what are generic answers posing as accountability. How often do we hear a player say, “We have to be better, I have to be better,” or a coach says, “We just have to keep working, and eventually the results will happen?” Those quotes rarely carry any weight, and I think fans deserve some substance.
Then there is Yankees manager Aaron Boone, whom I do think does a good job of breaking down games but is extremely protective of his players. Last year, for example, the fans were continuously told about the prowess of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, when it was obvious he was not playing well. Situations like that can muddy the waters when it comes to believing the narratives that the organization is pushing. I know fans and media members don’t know everything, but we can read through fake transparency.
I don’t blame players and coaches for being reserved and protecting themselves. It is a fine line to navigate, and this article isn’t intended to push the fault on one side or the other. With social media, players now have the opportunity to build their brand and control the narrative. The days of solely relying on and trusting reporters to tell your story are over. On the contrary, having reporters in the clubhouse does allow members of the media to build relationships with players and members of the organization, which can often lead to more in-depth and personal articles, which I enjoy.
Maybe this is all a product of my wanting to know more as a fan. You find yourself so invested in a product that you wish that you could be privy to all of the insider information. I know that is not possible, and I would never suggest getting rid of the postgame presser, as they are a foundational part of receiving information from your team. However, every impassioned postgame interview or introspective quote leaves me wanting more, and I wish they would happen more often.