One of the questions that came the bright-eyed J-schoolers posed was how get away from the clichéd answers athletes usually give in post-game answers. Well, under the heading of, "Once again, things that could have been brought to my attention yesterday," Bryan Curtis is wrote a piece for The Times declaring War On The Locker-Room Cliché. (Is it not cliché to be declaring war on something?) His opening salvo is pretty direct.
"Let's ditch the hackneyed, almost-useless tradition of the locker-room interview. There’s plenty to write after a ballgame without interrogating the players. The whole ritual proceeds from the idea that the sports press has gotten so professionalized that it feels it has to enforce the same standards of accountability as the political press. This is nonsense. If a political candidate makes a gaffe on the campaign trail, reporters ought to wring an explanation out of him. If (Derek) Jeter flubs a grounder, he doesn’t owe anyone a statement.It's kind of like what Barry Bonds said 15 years ago about the obligations of athletes to the public compared to other entertainers: "If people pay $8 to see Batman, they don't get to hang around to get Jack Nicholson's autograph." (Remember, like Chuck Klosterman once wrote of Bonds, what he usually says is true, and this usually makes things worse.)
Curtis is might have been playing off the chapter in Will Leitch's God Save The Fan, specifically the chapter on the reporters who have to go into locker rooms. It sort of hits at a big theme, at least for us Gen Xers: Defeating the cliché.
There is admiration for the sports journalists who go into locker rooms as part of their jobs, get what they need and turn around something quickly on deadline. To some extent, we want them talking to that half-naked man. We need them talking to that half-naked man. More to the point, the 24-hour news cycle needs it -- actual people, maybe not so much. Like Leitch says someone , you only need three things if you follow a particular major-league baseball team:
- Digital cable and the MLB Extra Innings package.
- A Web connection.
- A mute button ("Vital. This takes care of the hometown announcers.")
That does not sound all that bad to a guy like me who is more of a features writer, which is newsroom code for "can't write on deadline to save his life."
Wake Me When You Say Something Interesting (Bryan Curtis, The New York Times, Nov. 2)