The Athlete and the Media: a Tumultuous Relationship

Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant was in New York for this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game, where he had to devote some time to talking with the media, as most professional athletes do on a regular basis. There, he was asked about the status of his head coach Scott Brooks. A valid question, considering the Thunder are a middling 28-25 and in danger of missing the playoffs. Durant, however, didn’t take particularly kindly to the question:

“You guys really don’t know shit,” he said. “To be honest, man, I’m only here talking to y’all because I have to. So I really don’t care. Y’all not my friends. You’re going to write what you want to write. You’re going to love us one day and hate us the next. That’s a part of it. So I just learn how to deal with y’all.”

A most eloquent response – one that I, personally, am a huge fan of. It comes at a time when athletes are beginning to realize that they are not dependent on the media, and they don’t have to pander to or appease their every whim.

Marshawn Lynch ducked and toyed with media all season, and Durant’s teammate Russell Westbrook has begun screwing around with reporters over the last few weeks as well. Durant’s on a roll now, as his most recent comments have come just days after roasting an NBA writer on Twitter.

I’m in complete support of this movement of sorts, as it suppresses the”holier than thou” attitude that a lot of people in the media seem to possess. Take Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, for example:

Yeah. Not even going to entertain that one. Nevertheless, this is just one example of the pretentious mindset displayed by various members of the media. Some folks, like Mr. Murphy, honestly seem to believe that they are integral pieces in the advancement and success of the league and sports they cover, and the athletes owe it to them to give detailed, well thought out responses. Because without those postgame write ups, who in their right mind would still be interested in watching?

Another argument I hear often in the Twittersphere is that these athletes should be more receptive to talking to the media because they “signed up for it.” Okay, 1: no. They didn’t. They signed up to play their respective sport and get paid for it, not to sit down with media multiple times a week to give the same clichéd answers to their vapid questions, many of which begin with “Talk about…” And 2: even if appeasing the media is part of what they signed up for, there’s nothing out there that says they have to enjoy it.

So to all the Marshawn’s, the KD’s, the Russell’s, and the Bryce Harper’s (CLOWN QUESTION, BRO) of the sports world: continue to be honest with the media and with us fans. Be yourselves, even if yourself thinks the questions you’re being asked are ridiculous or if you feel uncomfortable talking with reporters at all. In a world where most athletes act conservatively to appear as marketable as possible and avoid ruffling the wrong feathers, it’s refreshing to see that there are a handful of guys out there who are unafraid to let us know what they really think.

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