Facing the scrutiny is part of professional sport


OPINION: Tennis player Naomi Osaka has excommunicated herself from press conferences as if it were the Spanish Inquisition and yet in most cases they can be boring and tame affairs.

Sometimes there are exceptions.

At the Commonwealth Games I attended, an Australian journalist said something like this to the reluctant Australian swimming coach: “Listen buddy, we don’t want to have lunch with you; we just want to ask a few questions. ”

Then it was all gone.

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It’s media gold when someone, like Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, usually breaks out after a loss. He often states that he showed up only because he will be fined if he does not.

Another NRL coach Wayne Bennett frequently utters angry monosyllabic responses and almost dares reporters to ask a question.

Perhaps the world’s No.2 tennis player Osaka could try one of these variations.

It surprised everyone that Osaka, raised in the United States of America, the land of joy, declared herself almost allergic to being questioned at tournaments.

Naomi Osaka struggles at the Italian Open in May.

Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

Naomi Osaka struggles at the Italian Open in May.

Most of the time, she wins, so the questioning would never have been too heavy. She could have just fed the slaves and moved on like everyone else does in celebrity land.

Instead, other Roland Garros players found themselves distracted when asked about the boycott of Naomi Osaka.

She knew that the clay in Paris was not her surface and that she would probably lose early. But then losing is a fate that awaits everyone in the men’s match at Roland Garros, except for Spanish slugger Rafael Nadal.

From the start, Osaka seemed like a shy, introverted person who had a few sulky moments. But the irony is that even though she has the mental courage to do it on the pitch in front of thousands of spectators, seemingly the world outside the streetcar lines, where she earned two-thirds of her $ 75 million. last year is also a step away.

Professional sport is not there for players to take the money and run, although as she said she has the wealth and can afford the fines.

Feel for those who are not in the lower echelons of tennis, the first round losers who desperately need the media to pay attention to them so they can afford to make it to the next event.

Osaka will never call a referee a sexist, a liar and a cheater, like her opponent, Serena Williams, did in New York in 2018. Williams earned a media questioning after that, and also in Auckland in 2017 when she did. blamed the wind for its loss; but at least she stood up.

Losing games comes with sport as much as winning and Osaka’s withdrawal from Roland Garros has turned on him by bringing a global warmth on his path beyond what she could have imagined.

She has entered a dead end if she is to return to the tournament, and to the Olympics for that matter. The next stage at Wimbledon will probably be unsolvable; for example, they insist that everyone wear pure white out there and take it or leave it.

Hundreds of other players on tour will not meet preferential treatment for a single player.

For lower level players, it can be a chore to go out for a multimedia chat as for many it is a whole new experience. I had to chase shy rugby players on pitches as they tried to escape fixed chins.

During the All Blacks tours, Jonah Lomu’s press conferences were busy. When he was in his prime, it didn’t matter what he said, only if he said something. He stood up.

While touring Australia, press conferences with All Blacks coach Laurie Mains were tense moments as he attacked Australian media and adamantly refused to cooperate with them. In Brisbane, a local film crew arrived panting a few minutes late and Mains told them where to go.

When Tiger Woods golfed at the New Zealand Open at Paraparaumu Beach in 2000, the lectures were held outdoors because he and his assistants were always in a rush; but as the world’s first media magnet, at least he has stood up.

In big golf tournaments like the US Masters, it’s even more intimidating. Their newsrooms are filled with hundreds of journalists.

Following the Osaka pullout, Venus Williams made a youthful statement that she attends press conferences because she is superior to all reporters because she can play better tennis than them. Nice, but they can punctuate and put words together better than she does, and they do it for a fraction of the room.

Even players who acted like pork chops like Australian racketeers Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios always showed up after games and deserved the curly questions about their odd behavior.


Sara R. Cicero