I come to you in defense of the press conference.
The press conference is on my mind because of the Naomi Osaka situation. The world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player said she did not want to do press conferences at the French Open in Paris, and cited mental health and anxiety as reasons why.
The Osaka situation is not germane to this column. Her topics of mental health and anxiety are substantive topics that should be dealt with seriously, and in a manner agreeable to all parties involved.
No, what I am here to do is take on all those who used the very real Osaka situation to extraneously pile on the media — or, as they would more likely describe us, the dreaded, Satanic, civilization-ruining, destructive, awful, cynical, dishonest media.
Among the complaints I read on social media about the dreaded, Satanic, civilization-ruining, destructive, awful, cynical, dishonest media is that “PRESS CONFERENCES ARE SO STUPID, ANYWAY. THEY ARE USELESS. GET RID OF THEM.”
To which, I humbly disagree.
First and foremost, as a lifelong member of the dreaded, Satanic, civilization-ruining, destructive, awful, cynical, dishonest media, I happen to like press conferences.
I enjoy asking questions of coaches and athletes. I enjoy listening to answers from coaches and athletes. I understand that not all of the questions are great. I understand that many times, the answers are cliches.
But I like them. I like hearing from the athletes. I like hearing from the coaches. I like hearing when they show a sense of humor. I like when they reveal an obstacle they have overcome. I like hearing them talk about teammates, providing insight. I like when they get miffed, showing their passion. It adds to my enjoyment of the game, and understanding of people, and it adds texture to the whole sporting experience.
I suspect this is true for many of you, and the ‘PRESS CONFERENCES ARE STUPID’ crowd is perhaps leaping on the media because it is, oh, I don’t know, fashionable and cool?
We use press conference sound every day on the Murph and Mac Show. Every day, it teaches me something. Just this morning, Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns used a press conference to reveal how he felt the spirit of Kobe Bryant in Staples Center, and how the way the light shined on Kobe’s No. 8 and 24 jerseys made him feel a special kind of way. This was poignant, and enlightening.
It happened in a press conference.
If you continue to doubt the verity of the press conference as valuable contributor to society, let me present the interactive part of the Jock Blog. Without press conferences, we would not have:
— Allen Iverson remind us that we are “talking about practice”
— Jim Mora question the realistic possibility of his team making the “playoffs!?!?!”
— Or Mike Singletary declaring his desire to want “winners!!”
And listen, I didn’t even gift you the Dennis Green “we are who they THOUGHT they were!” legend. Or Kevin Durant’s Hallmark moment telling his Mom “you da real MVP.” Or Riley Curry’s unending cuteness at the mic.
Or so many others.
They all happened at a press conference. Because press conferences, for all their banalities and boredom, for their cliches and awkward silences, can deliver the goods.
Long live the press conference!