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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.

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. K.T. Hastings

    I fast forward the pregame interview because everyone is going to “try to establish the run, play tough defense, and win the turnover battle.”

    Postgame, once in awhile, a coach will say something fineworthy about officiating. I listen to the postgame interview with the losing coach. If it’s the rule, then Bel… never mind. It’s Belechick. He has a walk through to videotape.

    Have to take issue with either demolition derby or Erin Andrews not being worth my time. Does anyone remember Figure 8 racing?

    I guess I’ll just go away and be old.

    January 21st, 2013 8:55 pm

  2. Port

    The half time and post game interviews are usually just a scheme to get a good looking female reporter on the screen. God knows the networks will never let them in the booth !

    January 21st, 2013 9:30 pm

  3. Tony Wade

    “We wanted to see a guy most of don’t care for to experience maximum discomfort on national television.”

    Exactly.

    I wuz robbed of that moment of deliciousity of seeing the evil genius try to avoid dropping f-bombs while saying nothing of substance.

    But your overall point is well taken. So much of that stuff is rubbish. Coachspeak similar to what Crash Davis taught Meat in “Bull Durham.”

    I used to like when Phil Jackson mocked Craig Sager’s suits though.

    January 21st, 2013 9:35 pm

  4. overtime

    Tony…Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. I rarely enjoy the opportunity to read something as giggle-worthy as, “I wuz robbed of that moment of deliciosity.” Phil Jackson once responded to one of my queries after a playoff loss as, “…good question (loooooooong Zen-like pause) … Ted, the point was more that … ” After that, of course, he sounded like every coach, largely like Charlie Brown’s teacher. But, to get serious response to what the Zen Master consider a good question was a career highlight. That made 2 good questions in my entire career….Ted

    January 21st, 2013 10:01 pm

  5. overtime

    Port…Interesting point that I’ve given thought to as a fan of sports and females. Thanks for reading and bringing it up. I watched the Fox college football studio show more than any other last season. (Not very often, but I made a point of getting to it every weekend.) I know Joey Harrington and Eddie George were the analysts, with Erin Andrews the host. I have no earthly idea if the analysts said anything of note … but I fell in love with Andrews in her skin-tight, red leather pants. I might rework the column to make it clear I value Erin Andrews, but that there’s no reason for her to be made to stand on sidelines asking questions. … And, we can’t forget that ESPN has the female play-by-play voice…her name is…um…she does the 9 a.m. Pacific time game every Saturday morning. … And the NY Yankees have a woman doing play-by-play who is so insufferable that I don’t listen to the Yankees on MLB radio even if they’re losing big. I hear an equal number of insufferable male announcers across the country. TED

    January 21st, 2013 10:05 pm

  6. overtime

    K.T. … First of all, you know I place great value on Erin Andrews. I just don’t need her shivering in the cold on the NFL sideline or wherever to add value to the telecast. She won me over to Fox college football without my ever doing anything but looking up during her studio show, with the sound on the TV turned down so I could listen to my music. Demolition derby was the most meaningless Wide World of Sports event I could recall that I felt confident everybody would know…my first thought was barrell jumping from the icy pond at Lake Placid, the guys missing, crashing into hay bales, etc. But, if you want to feel old … think how old you have to be to remember barrell jumping from 1964. (Yeah…remember figure 8 racing … learned more about cars watching the derby…I can’t fix a car, but I know I can drive it backwards with the front end totalled if the engine’s still running…) TED

    January 21st, 2013 10:09 pm

  7. Jimmy

    Bill did a press conference after the game, a press conference today, and a radio interview today. Yet, he gets heat for bailing on a meaningless 20 second interview. Gimme a break.

    January 21st, 2013 10:51 pm

  8. Frank

    The main goal , I think , is to get the coach (or player) to say something,anything, before he has a moment to organize his thoughts, that might be controversial enough to keep the talking heads in the studio busy enough to get thru halftime !! It gives me an extra minute in the kitchen to get my halftime meal going !1

    January 22nd, 2013 8:26 am

  9. Huzhumuh

    I noticed the hair-fluff thing, too, but forgot all about it until I just read your column. It does kind of sum up the whole sideline interview concept, though, doesn’t it? There was one pretty good exchange in the Patriots game, though. Unintentionally good, at least. Solomon Wilcots cornered John Harbaugh coming off the field at halftime and asked him what he was ‘concerned’ about. Harbaugh sounded like Martin Short doing Nathan Thurm. “Concerned? I’m not concerned ? Why would I be concerned? We’re six point down.”

    January 22nd, 2013 10:57 am

  10. JB

    Your article addressed something I’ve been saying for years and is right on the money. Professional sports is much better off without the same old, predictable questions from the media and I applaud people like Gregg Popovich and Bill Belichick. Also, most announcers and pre-game so-called “experts’ add NO VALUE because they have no idea who will win and aren’t asked to explain when they are wrong. Football announcers do nothing but second guess, which I would be happy to do for 1/10th of their salary. Criticize plays that don’t work, applaud plays that do work – now that takes training! Phil Simms inadvertenly admitted it when on Sunday’s game he applauded Baltimore for staying aggressive when up by 15 points, then said he might be one of those guys that questioned their decision to pass when they went three-and-out. I don’t understand what criteria people use to rater such announcers.

    January 22nd, 2013 11:59 am

  11. overtime

    JB…Very well stated. We don’t get anything, really, from media members who have access to players and coaches. Well, if you follow a beat writer on Twitter you can find out if David Akers is missing kicks in practice. We don’t get to know players or coaches — not that I feel any need to know them as human beings. The best analysts can’t know what’s going to happen … if they knew, we wouldn’t have to watch the games. We’re headed one of two directions. We’ll either turn covering sports into a TMZ or E! enterainment type operation…where we see columnists increasingly inserting themselves into stories or we’ll go back to media folks who find stories we’re interested in based on their knowledge of the game and ability to explain it. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the latter. Ted

    January 22nd, 2013 12:31 pm

  12. overtime

    Huz…I would’ve missed the hair fluff thing, but the sons checked it out multiple times. Having covered these things on site, I used to enjoy watching the sideline reporters prep for their on-camera appearances. They’d pull out brushes, combs … dab on makeup. A sea of fans…courtside camera folks…and one person primping was a funny sight. Thanks for reading. Ted

    January 22nd, 2013 12:33 pm

  13. overtime

    Jimmy…Thanks for mentioning that. Belichick said he was “disappointed.” He added that “obviously I’m disappointed.” I guess people are angry thatCBS sidelines guy Steve Tasker didn’t get to break that big story. Ted

    January 22nd, 2013 12:39 pm

  14. overtime

    Frank…Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The point is they HAVE to do the interviews so they know the interviews are coming … so they’re never caught off guard. It’s at the point where the Popovich-style, totally dismissive sideline interview isn’t even awkward to watch. We know he’s going to be as condescending as he can. Ted

    January 22nd, 2013 12:41 pm

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