This is how my brain works when I am going for a run this morning. I was at the start of a jog, listening to the Solid Verbal interview with Chris Brown from Smart Football* and Dan Rubinstein was talking about how he normally does not get much out of athlete interviews, but he enjoyed talking to recent NFL draftees (especially David Wilson) at an NFLPA event at the Rose Bowl. My first thought was to agree with Rubinstein. I don't really care for interviews with sports players and coaches, either. What is the point of listening to 5-10 minutes of an athlete doing his best to avoid saying anything? This mentality was sufficiently mocked in Bull Durham and then, more recently, by Brewers closer David Axford.
At this stage, it occurred to me why athletes say nothing: they don't want to be criticized afterwards in the event that they lose to the team or player about whom they said something critical. The Mayhem in the AM hosts on 790 illustrated this perfectly after the Hawks lost their series against the Celtics...
If you have forgotten the events of two weeks ago, in the context of a defense of what the Hawks have achieved in the face of a number of injuries, Michael Gearon Jr. criticized Kevin Garnett for being a dirty player. Garnett then played very well against the Hawks in Game Six and the local pro basketball collective was eliminated from the playoffs. The 790 guys jumped all over Gearon for providing motivation to Garnett and they accepted at face value Garnett's statements after the game that he derived extra motivation from Gearon's comments, as if he needed extra help in a game that his coach described as do-or-die for the Celtics' season.
The irony of the entire episode is that the negative reaction from Shapiro, Dimino, and Cellini illustrates the shortcomings of their own medium. Part of what they sell with their show is that they get interviews with big names in the sports industry. Now, leaving aside the fact that they ask banal questions that do not have the effect of eliciting interesting answers, what athlete is going to say anything interesting when he knows that he stands a good chance of being criticized for it if the subject of his remarks wins the next game? The 790 guys reinforce the message that athletes and coaches should be cliche-spouting robots every time they talk to the media. That seems shortsighted when a chunk of their revenue is derived from attracting listeners with interviews of those very same athletes and coaches.
* - If you have any interest in football schemes, this podcast is a must. I barely noticed the fact that I was running 5.6 miles. This is not because I am in great shape; it was because I was totally absorbed by the content.