At the professional and major college level, we’ve become familiar with post-game press conferences in which coaches and some athletes sit at a table taking questions from reporters.
But when did the media begin encroaching on coaches during games? It happens all the time, before or after halftime of college football games, during quarter breaks in NBA games, and between innings of baseball games.
Because these sports receive big bucks from TV, I’m sure it’s written in the contract that these interviews must take place. But really, how much do we learn from them? I doubt seriously the person doing the interview enjoys doing them, and I’m quite sure the coaches/managers view them as a necessary evil.
Coaches don’t seem to mind one nonsensical question, but after the second or third, their expression is much like a kid who has to go to the bathroom in a hurry.
So why does television want these interviews anyway? The networks must think that a coach might actually say something significant, but with most of the questions being so innocuous, the chances of that are slim to none.
How brilliant can a coach look when responding to routine questions while a game is in progress? What do you expect to get from a camera shot in the locker room before a game or in the middle of a huddle during a timeout besides a bunch of men sitting or standing around?
Rather than giving us great insight, we have come to understand that rarely does a coach have true words of wisdom or inspiration.
Sometimes I wish a coach would respond to questions with total sarcasm, humor or brutal honesty.
Here are some possible scenarios that could have been fun.
The Bulls and Celtics are in Game 7 of their first-round NBA playoff series. What some have already called the greatest first-round series ever has gone into overtime nearly every game.
After the third quarter of Game 7, which is tied, the reporter pulls aside Celtics coach Doc Rivers for an interview.
Announcer: Coach, don’t you wish injured Kevin Garnett was available now?
Rivers: Oh, I don’t know. His absence gives us a chance to develop other players for next year.
Announcer: Is this one of the best playoff series you’ve ever been a part of?
Rivers: Actually, I liked our championship series last year with the Lakers a lot better. Except for the heartburn I’m experiencing, this isn’t too bad. I’m getting paid a boatload of money to watch from a great seat, so it’s not too painful.
Announcer: Finally, what are you going to tell your team as we head into the fourth quarter of this deciding game?
(Horn sounds ending the timeout.)
Rivers: Well, I was going to tell them to crash the boards and score more points than the other team, but it appears I won’t be able to because of this stupid interview.
Announcer: Thanks and good luck, coach.
Rivers: Actually I’d rather have a healthy Kevin Garnett.
Now let’s consider a possible conversation with Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella.
Announcer: Lou, your team is down 7-1 in the seventh inning. What do you tell the guys in this situation?
Piniella: For one thing, I told my pitcher to pick up the pace.
Announcer: Do you think that will help your defense be more sharp and on their toes?
Piniella: Doesn’t matter. At this rate I’m going to be late for dinner, and making a pitching change now will make me even later!
Announcer: Last year your team had a great season only to be swept by the Dodgers in the playoffs. Did your team learn anything from that experience?
Piniella: Yeah. It’s more fun to be the team doing the sweeping.
Announcer: Did you just see that questionable call at second base?
Piniella: No, I was answering your stupid questions.
Announcer: Well, it looked like a bad call to me.
Piniella: Really? Thanks. I’ve gotta run.
Piniella: Here’s my chance to protest a call and get ejected. I may be on time for dinner yet!