By TED SILLANPAA
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is under fire for refusing to do a post-game interview with CBS sideline reporter Steve Tasker following Sunday’s AFC Championship game win by the Ravens.
Belichick was doing us all a favor. Halftime interviews. Sideline interviews. Onfield, post-game interviews. They’re worthless. In fact, barring the days-long process a truly gifted journalist goes through to elicit insight from subjects ofa s tory, interviews of athletics and coaches are all meaningless.
Here’s what Belichick would’ve said if he had done an interview. (I’ve heard him during press conferences. He never says anything of insight or interest.)
“The Ravens played a good game. We lost because our offense didn’t play well. Their defense played well.”
Belichick might not have said even that much and we all know it. So, why are we upset and questioning his sportsmanship for not talking to us after the loss? I don’t get it. Media types and angry fans really just wanted to see Belichick stand there and squirm … be stuck in the spotlight of a painful loss. We wanted to see a guy most of don’t care for to experience maximum discomfort on national television.
As mentioned, I don’t get it. Watching both games with my sons on Sunday we paid no attention to anything post-game save … that my oldest sons noticed Fox’s fox Erin Andrews doing a nearly exotic shake of her torso to either seduce a 49ers’ linebacker or fluff up her hair before going on air. (The sons rewound the DVR and tried to figure out the little dance she did. When her interview started, they turned away.)
Those between-quarters interviews during nationally-televised NBA games are, arguably, the most ridiculous waste of air time since they stopped showing demolition derby on the ABC Wide World of Sports. It’s a mandatory gig for the head coaches. The game’s sideline reporter gets to ask two questions. The sideline people, they don’t really report any news, know they can’t ask anything but the most perfunctory questions. So, even if an interesting story develops, we won’t learn more about it between periods.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich won’t play along. He’s rude. He gives one-sentence answers. And, he does everything he can to let the sideline person know that he knows how ridiculous the in-game interviews really are. I love Popovich.
Even if a sidelines guy does ask a good question about an interesting story, how’s the coach going to shed any light on it in 45 seconds? TNT’s Craig Sager asked Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni about the decision to bench Pau Gasol. D’Antoni, largely said, that Gasol doesn’t fit D’Antoni’s offensive scheme.
What? Gasol’s an all-star player. A big-time post player who can shoot the jumper from 12- to 15-feet. And, he got benched in favor of a guy named Earl Clark? What kind of scheme does D’Antoni run? (Answer: He wants to spread his people out with Dwight Howard in the middle and he wants to run and shoot. He wants four 3-point shooters with Howard.) Sager got D’Antoni to mention his scheme, briefly, and anyone who follows the NBA was dying to have Sager ask: “What options does your scheme have to include two all-star level post players like Howard and Gasol? Wouldn’t that give your team an advantage on every other team in the NBA?”
Sager had asked his two questions so, even though he’s the type guy who might’ve asked the question, he couldn’t follow up. Wait and see for yourself if any media member asks D’Antoni that simple question about forcing his scheme on a team built for an offense that, if run correctly, would make the Lakers hard to stop. Don’t bother waiting for D’Antoni to admit that he only coaches one scheme and that having a team built to do something else isn’t really his problem.
There’s no reason that the NBA can’t put a camera and microphone in each team’s huddles during timeouts … and actually show us a coach designing a play or a defense. We get a silly clip of the coach’s pep talk now. We’ve never been in an NBA huddle when they’re making strategy. Then cut the video and audio of both teams in a way that will educate us, offer insihgt. There are no secrets in the NBA. Let us in the huddles and show the coaches actually coaching.
Or, put the home club’s dance team’s routine on the air between periods. Use all the cameras in the arena and really show fans the routine. If you don’t think it’d be enjoyable to see NBA dance teams rather than to hear Tom Thibodeaux rasping out cliches from the Bulls sideline, we can find some middle ground.
We’re very close to the point that we’ll all agree that Andrews, Sager, Tasker and others serve no purpose on the sidelines. (UPDATE: It has been pointed out by male readers who, like me, have great appreciation for Erin Andrews … that her presence always serves some purpose.) We’ll agree that post-game press conferences amount solely to giving the coaches and players a chance to say their piece and for media folks to ask questions aimed solely at getting a quote to go with the story the media person already has in mind to do.
The players and coaches don’t need the media, so they don’t take interviews seriously. Listened to the 49ers or Giants post-game shows lately? Really? The Giants player who drove in the go-ahead run was “just trying to hit the ball hard … put it in play.” Wow? And, the 49ers “left it all out on the field” and the key to the game was that they “played as one.” No kidding?
Belichick did us a favor and, seriously, let’s hope more see through the sham these interviews have become.