Inside the Capitol

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Stop sideline interviews


I was so sorry to see Pam Oliver hit in the head by a football on the sidelines of a game recently. I put that on my list of future blogs but now that we learn it caused a concussion, I have moved it up.

Oliver was doing just what she was told to do in the spot she was told to do it. But the whole deal is dumb. No one learns much from sideline reporting. The questions are mostly lime. "How did it feel to be knocked for a 20-yard loss?" I figure all interviewers, on any subject, get paid extra if they can make an interviewee cry.

Politicians are given a list of talking points to cover, with instructions to get them all in – and no more. With athletes, it is much the same, except if they go beyond the talking points, they might be fined. "How on earth did you pull off that touchdown play?"

An honest answer is a sure fine. The required answer is "We just like to put the ball in the end zone, m'am. I would prefer to be watching the game than listening to an inane interview. But the league management seems to think the interviews sexes up the game so management requires the interviews.

I like the reporting Vin Scully does for 65 years for the Dodger baseball games. He has no one in the booth with him – or on the sidelines. My favorite sideline interviews are the ones grudgingly granted by San Antonie Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich His answers are a curt one or two words saying nothing. But it is so much more pleasant that two paragraphs saying nothing.

Let's hope Pam Oliver's injury will lead to a reexamination of interview policies, especially for sideling interviews.


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