Shannon Sharpe of CBS Sports was shocked and appalled that New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick would dare to avoid his network’s sideline reporters following the team’s AFC Championship Game loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.
There’s something to be said about being gracious in defeat. We’ve seen the New England Patriots five times in the last 12 years be victorious [in the AFC championship game). We've seen the opposing coaches who lost come out and talk to our Steve Tasker. Coach [Bill] Cowher did it when they lost to them, we saw this last week. Bill Belichick makes it real easy for you to root against the Patriots. You can’t be a poor sport all the time. You’re not going to win all the time, and he does this every time he loses. It’s unacceptable.
Sharpe’s comments might have carried more weight if even a single viewer of Sunday evening’s NFL coverage noticed that Belichick wasn’t interviewed. Or if, for once – just once – something of any interest to anyone was to be asked of a head coach following a football game. Instead, Belichick revealed himself to be one of the 7 billion people on earth who don’t enjoy talking about their failures, and for this Sharpe, in the parlance of our times, called him out.
I understand that sports are entertainment, and that television networks pay a lot of money for the rights to broadcast sporting events, and as part of the price paid for these rights, there’s an expectation of participation from coaches. So, you could make an argument that part of Belichick’s job, as Head Coach of the New England Patriots of the National Football League, is to speak with a television reporter after the game.
However, no one missed out on anything when Belichick opted not to supply the typical stock of bullshit answers to the pedantic questions that plague these post-game interview scenarios. In fact, the only reason this is even a topic of discussion is because of Sharpe’s criticisms following the game. In the NFC Chapionship Game, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t fulfil his obligation to speak with the FOX broadcast. Since none of the hosts attempted to use his absence as an opportunity to promote themselves, few were actually aware that there was even supposed to be an interview.
Are sports fans today not savvy enough to get by without the cliche-riddled meanderings of media-trained head coaches following a game? What exactly was the CBS interviewer going to discover from speaking with a distraught Belichick? That he was, I don’t know, upset about the loss?
What insights are ever gathered from this dated process? I would hazard a guess that the only time the vast majority of viewers take note of an interview like the one that Belichick avoided is when the coach reacts like a bear that’s been poked with a stick once too often. In these instances though, the media themselves are the catalyst for the response. It’s hardly the recording of an unprovoked, natural moment.
What keeps the National Football League relevant is the public’s interest in the game and the relatively small cost that a lot of people can pay to satisfy their curiosity over seeing who the best is at a particular game. Yes, a television broadcast can certainly shape and bend that interest, but their relationship to the game itself is like a waiter’s to what he’s serving.
Think of the workers of the National Football League, from players to coaches to executives, as a highly skilled chef at a popular restaurant. In this allegory, the meals being created creates are the games and the resulting stories that come from the games. The broadcaster then acts as the server, delivering plates of food to the customer and facilitating their enjoyment.
If, from time to time, the waiter doesn’t feel as though he’s getting enough information from the chef to properly deliver that plate of food to the customer, it’s too bad, but the chef owes nothing to the server. While a waiter is necessary for delivering the food, there are always a stack of resumes in the chef’s office from eager applicants wanting to fill that position. And it’s far easier to replace the waiter than it is the chef, as long as technically, the waiter is paying to be the server of the chef’s production, which is what’s happening in football’s relationship with its broadcasters.
It’s as though a template was formed long ago, and broadcasters have refused to adapt to address their dependence on the cookie cutter items with which they fill that template. What’s insulting to the viewer is that they hold these completely uninformative and uninteresting moments following a game up to an untrue level of importance, imagining that they offer something that they truly don’t. The outrage that follows a coach’s refusal to participate in the delusion of the broadcast is part of reinforcing the supposed importance of Belichick saying:
We just had a tough day. That’s part of the deal. Every team is going to have a game like this. This team will bounce back. I know it. We have to forget about today and come back ready to play next year.
The Dumb Thing That Don Cherry Said
Like a chain reaction of increasingly more damaging explosions, the NHL’s return meant that Hockey Night In Canada was broadcast into millions of Canadian homes, which meant that Don Cherry’s Coach’s Corner platform was also seen by millions.
Instead of getting tough guys, Canadian guys – remember in Anaheim, he had all Canadian guys – he starts getting U.S. College guys, Finns and Swedes. What is this?
I just don’t know anymore.
Manti Te’o Interview Highlights
In the most impressive bit of blatant public relations gamesmanship to come along in some time, Manti Te’o's handlers allowed an untelevised interview with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on Friday night. Schaap reported on it Saturday, and a partial transcript was released later in the weekend.
His admission to not being sure of his girlfriend’s existence right up to Deadspin’s article on it, seems to contradict Notre Dame’s statement which claimed to have informed Te’o's family that it was a hoax, after hiring investigators to look into the matter.
Thought Of The Day
Is it not in the Canadian sports media’s best interest to report on how eager hockey fans are to watch the NHL, despite its recent labor dispute?
Amazing how quickly media has ruled that NHL fans are back and have forgiven. Guess we need that to be true as much as the league does.
— Steve Ladurantaye (@sladurantaye) January 21, 2013
Your Suspension Of The Week
Shock jock sports talk radio host Dan Sileo attacked FOX Sports reporter Erin Andrews for reasons unbeknownst to anyone over the weekend, and was summarily suspended for two days by WQAM in Miami. He should’ve been fired for first of all, blaming Andrews, of all people, for not properly fact-checking stories on Manti Te’o, and for then tweeting, “Love Erin Andrews either naked or in a porn. Not at a sports desk.” This was after Andrews kindly informed the mouth-breathing neanderthal that she didn’t cover Notre Dame.
A Matter Of Timing And Scheduling And Advanced Degrees In Psychology
The biggest controversy to come out of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Lance Armstrong last week was the decision to not only air the confessional over two parts, but to wait three days before televising the sit down. After all of the speculation over what he would say, the actual telecast was rather anti-climactic.
The reaction to Armstrong’s confession on social media was mainly to label him a psychopath and be done with it. According to the public, using performance enhancing drugs is forgivable, but to treat people like dicks in the process of your cover up is crazy.
Your Piggy Bank Cracking Of The Week
The average resale of a Super Bowl ticket is around $3,000.