Wednesday, January 29, 2014

On silence and Marshawn Lynch

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch didn't talk to reporters all year.  It's Super Bowl week, and now he's talking... but not really.  (He's getting assistance, if that helps.)

The Pro Football Writers of America aren't happy.  Specifically, they are "extremely disappointed."

Let's discuss this:

This is in Marshawn Lynch's contract.  He is required to meet with the media.  That has to be placed in bold; speaking with the media isn't optional, it's contractual.  There are monetary penalties for all players who refuse to speak to reporters.

When players snub reporters, it makes them look bad and it makes the team look bad.  If a player continually snubs reporters, the reporters go right to the team's brass -- or, if need be, the reporter's bosses go right to the team's brass.  Sponsorship and advertising deals are significant, the media reminds the team.  Getting reported on and receiving positive press is a privilege, not an expectation. The media-team relationship is a partnership with mutual benefits.

That said, let's step away from Lynch and talk personality types.  There's extreme shyness and fear of attention and anxiety and all sorts of other traits that arise in a situation like this.  The fear of public speaking is one of the most widespread in the country, right up there with fear of snakes and heights.

Look at the player's perspective on Super Bowl Media Day, via Richard Sherman's lens:


Can you blame a player for getting even a little uncomfortable in the face of that crush?  It's claustrophobic.  It's frightening.  You can understand why a player would prefer a simple one-on-one in comparison.

My Lansing Lugnuts had a player, a good one, who would receive interview requests.  They made him anxious; whenever he could, he would turn them down.  Every now and then, he would sigh and uncomfortably say yes.  It was painful.

*

So, in conclusion:  Marshawn Lynch, like every other player, should talk to the media... but I understand why he would really rather not.  He's most definitely not alone among athletes.

The media, being the media, is naturally sympathetic.

EDIT:  Oh yes, very sympathetic.



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