For those with the good sense not to pay attention to football, know that there is a controversy afoot involving Marshawn Lynch, star running back of the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch, you see, does not like to talk to the media. At all. So he does not talk to the media.
The NFL wants its players to talk to the media, so it has fined Lynch multiple times for this. So lately Lynch has taken to offering the barest compliance: showing up for media sessions and giving non-answers. Yesterday was the Super Bowl media day. He was asked 30 questions and answered each one with “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” and then left after his five-minute obligation was over.
Most people think this is rather hilarious. Super Bowl media day has devolved into a dumb circus in which no real information is actually gleaned from the players. Really: people dress up in weird costumes, non-reporters are credentialed and use the opportunity to try to become viral sensations and the NFL even charges admission to it so fans can watch the silliness. This is not a formal press conference. It is a sideshow.
But boy are reporters angry at Lynch. Does he not realize that the cliches athletes spout to reporters are just as important as his football playing abilities?! Does he not realize that I, a sports reporter for a newspaper, am fundamentally unable to write about a dynamic and successful professional athlete – a man who literally runs over people for a living in an arresting, exciting and visual manner – without the content-free sound bites he may mutter to 100 reporters in a cacophonous arena?!
And some even have decided to lecture him on the real world, honor and duty. Marcus Hayes from the Philadelphia Daily News:
Also, consider their general profile: These largely are very young men whose talent has afforded them shelter and structure most of their lives. They are people for whom “hard work” equates to lifting weights and running sprints; for whom “commitment” means adhering to a loose daily schedule that tells them when to wake, when to eat, when to think; for whom “adversity” means being .500 midway through a season and somehow making the playoffs.
They know little of the real world and its gravity.
Despite their existence in a universe parallel to most people’s, they at least should understand the weight of obligation.
Lynch’s boycott of the press is no different from boycotting a meeting, a practice or a game. What if he mailed it in at the Super Bowl the way he mailed it in on Media Day?
Maybe there’s a hint of truth in there. But it’d be way more convincing if it didn’t come from a guy with a media sinecure whose job requires him to write only about 800 words once a week.
That aside, people like athletes because they’re athletes who do amazing things on athletic fields and in arenas. Unless they say something super controversial, they care very, very little about their answers to reporter questions. Especially in media free-for-all sessions. Especially when the player is a football player because they’re mostly helmeted gladiators with a short shelf-life.
But please, do lecture us about Lynch’s obligation to provide quotes for your newspaper column.