This seems rather unfair

I was surprised (maybe naively) to read that sports personalities are FORCED (or at least coerced) into giving press conferences.

It was part of my job to do presentations, stand up and rally the team etc. and occasionally talk to press or TV (I’ve the clips if you want to see them :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:) but I must say I never enjoyed it. Small round table sessions were fun because they were interactive, but I would never have accepted being quizzed by an audience of not particularly sympathetic strangers. Yet this is what sports people are faced with.

Personally I think it’s unfair to expect people to perform for the media if they don’t want to, and I can well understand that having an impact on someone’s mental health.

What does anybody else think?

For me it was part of the job description. No choice. And also part of performance assessment so had to do it aa well as you could. Regional TV/radio and programmes like Woman’s Hour were fine, others distinctly less so. And some of the conferences also quite hairy, such as talking to 500 police people about how flashing needs to be taken more seriously. Or presenting some contentious policies.

It’s what you are paid for. And I certainly was paid but a small fraction of what many sport’s people get.

They also no doubt get media training…

me too - and given my role, this could be at a moments notice according to developing situations with little or no notice.

I did but as JJ says, as it’s part and parcel of the job description, it’s what you get paid to do. If it’s not your bag, find something else less of a challenge.

1 Like

It’s part of the contract that sports celebrities sign - if they do not want to talk to the media, they should not have signed…a large part of their earnings are because their fans and the general media pay for these interviews etc.

I think it’s something one grows into - I’ve done dozens of international conference presentations (even found myself a wife at one!). Was nervous when I started out, but as I gained experience, eventually really looked forward to my turn to present and being able to do so precisely within the alloted twenty minutes, using high quality visual material. Nevertheless, the best ones were always those where you were able to give your paper on the first day and then really relax.

However, I also that think in the very different circumstances of this young woman, she’s found it very difficult to go immediately from the physical and emotional intensity of the match to the very different demands of dealing coherently with the press. I suspect that’s why most professional footballers appear wholly inarticulate when interviewed on the pitch immediately after a game.


If this is part of her contract then surely there is a need to provide her with real support so that she can cope. I read her original comments but nothing since and it was clear that this part of “the job” causes her immense distress. I think her management are being crass.


Perhaps she should provide herself with the required support? As others have pointed out, top sporting celebrities are paid very large amounts of money, from which they typically pay for coaches, trainers, physiotherapists etc. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to add psychological support.

We should also consider the amount of payment they receive. Is it, perhaps, out of proportion to their efforts? If they were paid less, would the media interest be lower?


You take the dollar, you meet the conditions.


And at what stage does it become abusive? Seems to me all too often in the entertainment world - be it sports / music, whatever - there are plenty of pretty unpleasant hangers-on who are only too happy to use the person with the skill / talent / whatever without any thought whatsoever for that individual’s mental wellbeing. Extreme case I know, but Amy Winehouse comes to mind.


I agree that Amy Winehouse was abused. But there is very little that can be done to protect an adult against their father and husband if no complaints are laid…

But employer/employee and manager/client is a different matter and one would hope that it becomes more and more rare that greed overrules human decency. Especially with you ger and more fragile people.

1 Like

Do them the Kimi Raikonnen way. This F1 racer and world champ is well known for his minimalist way with interviews. One word answers - mostly ‘yes’ or ‘no’ - very few more than that.

I recall one interview by TV pit lane reporter Lee Mackenzie. She and Raikonnen were sitting at a table in the Maclaren suite, Kimi in his jet black shades had muttered a few words, mostly ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as usual. Mackenzie got a bit frustrated. Virtually nothing was coming back in this ‘profile piece’ from a man whose face was largely obscured.

“Kimi … could you take your shades off, please?”

Next question …


This evening, I only caught the closing minutes of France 24’s excellent nightly programme, The Debate. I usually value this prog because their discussions are invariably well-rounded, rather than binary and adversarial (like the BBC and its flawed concept of ‘balance’). If anyone’s interestedin some more informed authorities debating the subject of our thread, it’s at:-



Always interesting, frequently provoking. A good programme - even when I disagree with the outcome.

1 Like

I also favour the ‘Raikonnen Response’.

1 Like

Interesting discussion. On reflection have two points.

There have been mentions of it “being part of the job” or “what one signs up for” but this is theoretically a sport, not a business. If someone is shy can’t they aspire to be a top athlete? Or from day one when your toddler daughter first picks up her racquet does she need a PR coach as well as a tennis coach? Can’t one be a private person and still excel? It seems sad to me that someone could have the potential to be the best tennis player in the World but because of an inability (for whatever reason) to talk to the scavengers in the press they can never prove it. Is this sport or is it a media circus?

Secondly and probably more importantly, this revealed again the continuing prejudice against mental health issues. I saw a couple of clapped out female tennis players on Ch 4 waffle on in a “she should just get on with it” sort of way, but there was no psychologist or psychiatrist interviewed to explain just how difficult and painful public speaking could be for an individual. In fact there were even inferences that she was “faking it”. Unbelievable.
Obviously somebody pointed this out to the Grand Slammers because the are now back peddling furiously.

That’s my tuppence worth :slightly_smiling_face:


Brilliant response.

I can’t watch those F1 has beens, hanger ons and bottom feeding “journalists” any more. They’re not there for the sport, they’re there for the few bob. IMO the golden days were pre the current "fly by wire” telemetry burdened, controlled by the Pits “mission control” dronemobiles, We had good old Murray Walker getting it all wrong and James Hunt getting the odd dig in. :slightly_smiling_face:

It’s all too clinical now IMO, no passion like Gilles Villeneuve had.

Maybe she should ask for all interviews to be done in her mother tongue ( I think she’s Japanese but I’ll admit to knowing bugger all about tennis) or do you have to be fluent in English to be a professional sportsperson?

One presumes that there could be some negotiation over contract terms. So surely it is possible to forgo an element of a fee (used perhaps to pay a media representative) and not have to face interviews?

That’s certainly possible in other walks of life. But I know little about how sports works. Although sometimes it does seem to be less about the sport and more about hype, personality and money.

The issue of mental health that Naomi raises and how sports people/teams are monetised is important, however her US$20 million in prize money by the age of 23 demonstrates that it is in fact a business with signed contracts, agreements between everyone made well ahead of time.

The major source of the shiny stuff are corporate sponsors through TV advertising; the other way to fund sports from professionals such as this to the junior levels would be through taxes/gov’t funding.

Communication is important; e.g. to encourage young people to be involved in sport, and perhaps if Naomi and her management team had raised this issue earlier, some possible alternatives could have been arranged rather than after the tournament commenced.

Perhaps the question is not whether or not to talk to the public, but rather ‘how’ they talk to the public i.e. directly after the match vs delayed, group of reporters vs their choice of journalist etc etc.