The true answer should be, say, if you’re a basketball player almost as excited as the interviewer: “Nothing was going on in my mind. My instincts automatically told me I could beat him going right, but I wasn’t thinking anything, it was like war, in white heat, when the mind leaves the body, and I really wanted to kick the guys ass who was guarding me before he kicked mine and humiliated me in front of millions of fans, and it really feels good to see how I crushed the cocky bastard who’s trying to steal my livelihood after that ball swished through the net.”
The usual answer: “First I want to thank my team mates and coaches for getting me the ball in the right place and supporting me and believing in me and making this all possible, cuz without them I couldn’t do any of this, it’s a team game, and I also really respect those guys on the other team, they played their butts off and deserve better…”
The true answer, if you make a game winning catch in the NFL: “That mothafucka be talkin’ trash all mothafuckin’ day, ah beat that mothafucka bad, he holdin’ mah ass, the ref ain’t calllin’ shit, but ah beat that mothafucka anyhow cuz he can’t keep up with me, I be too fast, too big, too strong, too smart…”
The usual answer: “Man, what a great game, my quarterback, he make an incredible throw, he’s an incredible player, and the line blocked’ like hell, the coaches called’ a great play, it’s about team, man, we play together, we love each other, you go in our locker room ain’t nothin’ but love, man…”
It’s usually a woman from one of the giant sports broadcasting corporations asking the baseball player who just got the game winning hit, (and is dripping wet with ice cold Gatorade after he was mobbed by team mates) what he was thinking as he rounded the bases. The true answer: “That sonofabitch has been getting me out with crap all season but I caught up with him tonight, I knew he was going to throw me a cutter low and away, and I went with it, and nothing made me happier than watching that lowly fucking pitcher walk off the mound with his head down and slam his goddam glove down in the dugout and kick the Gatorade cooler, I could hear him cursing over the crowd…you have no idea how I hate pitchers, they throw at your head, try and confuse you, try and run you out of the game and take food off the plates of your children…”
The usual answer: “I was just looking for a pitch to hit, something out over the plate The guy is so tough, he’s been getting me out all year. I’ve been working in the cage really hard with my hitting coach and looking at a lot of tape, and I guess I just got lucky tonight, it feels really good to get a big hit for my team mates, these guys really support me, whether I’m going good or bad, and it feels really, really great to come through for our fans, we love our fans, they’re the greatest fans in the world…”
These answers, of course, are politically correct public relations mush for the stupid and hopefully gullible sports fan to sop up, and especially the kids, who are badly in need of role models to steer them away from being selfish, greedy, lying and cheating competitors, so they’ll eventually become good, wholesome citizens doing the right thing—and saying the right things.
An athlete, to begin with, is not geared to explain or share what he does or how he thinks because he’s too busy doing it over and over again at the expense of all intrusions if he wants to succeed. Therefore, nobody is as inarticulate as an athlete trying to explain what he is doing, and can only display raw emotions, which are almost always incoherent blather that hopefully suffuse those staking their lives on teams and athletes a shot of euphoria of their own, however ephemeral.
The worst interviews are the ones where an Eagle Scout athlete like Tim Tebow or Russell Wilson ignores any question and lays all the credit on Jesus Christ Our Savior, or God. These pious statues, so full of false humility, cannot go a second without proselytizing and shoving their beliefs down our throats. It is as if they are drug addicts addicted to the word of their saviors and feel called upon 24/7 to convince the American people that besides loving their team mates, fans, etc, they love the lord above all and, like most of those delivering religious sermons, are insufferably boring and no better than pimps for the big business of corporate religion.
When I decided I was not fit emotionally to pursue a career as a professional athlete and showed my creative writing teacher in college a glimmer of potential, he suggested I become a sportswriter so that I could continue writing and aim toward my real desire to pen short stories or novels. I told him the last thing I could stomach was trying to talk to an athlete after he got his ass kicked, because from personal experience there was nothing I hated more than having to talk to anybody after I got my ass kicked, which essentially meant losing, or playing lousy, and failing, an excruciatingly abysmal feeling for a person whose entire identity is built on winning and succeeding as an athlete.
My father (Murray Franklin), as a professional baseball player who reached the big leagues, despised sportswriters. He claimed 90% were full of shit, troublemakers, prevaricators, agitators, and in some cases front-office stooges. A lot of players he respected as performers on the field he resented off the field for currying favor with sportswriters, usually by being too nice to them, too willing to dispense obvious goody-goody quotes, so that they got good write-ups and became pets of the front office as well as the fans.
Dad said, “I hated those clubhouse politicians kissing up to writers. Ted Williams called sportswriters ‘Knights of the Keyboard.’ Those pricks had too much power and they crucified Ted, the greatest hitter of all time, because he wouldn’t talk to them, and when he did he cussed their asses out and called them vile names.”
“Were there any good ones?” I asked.
“Yeh, there were. Red Smith. He was a good one. I’m not saying they were all bad, but the nature of the business made it easy for them to be real pricks, especially if you ignored them or rubbed them the wrong way. I was always civil to them, sometimes I was nice. What the hell, they’re human beings with a crappy job. I never feuded with them, but there were a few that got it wrong and I made it pretty obvious I hated the s.o.b’s and wouldn’t give ‘em the time of day, and they could write what they wanted. Plus, they ask stupid questions. Who the hell wants to answer stupid questions with stupid answers?”
There was no way the son of Murray Franklin could ever be a sportswriter. My Dad’s been gone a long time, so I never got a chance to ask him about players proselytizing, but he was of a generation that when trapped and forced to answer questions about games and players, they tried to deliver safe answers, made sure to never gloat or criticize an opposing player and always remain modest and just humble enough so as not to show up another player or team or, as Dad put it, “blow your own horn.”
Most professional athlete in their prime will not dare veer from the expected humble behavior, but certain coaches will. The great football coach, Bill Parcells, would insult sportswriters whether their questions were stupid or not, depending on whether he felt they were just plain stupid and didn’t like them for general purposes. He would bluster and bully, cow the poor bastards as if delivering a halftime ass-chewing to his players for performing like losers.
Greg Popovich, possibly the best coach in the NBA and one of the greatest of all time, often refuses to answer stupid questions and stares at interviewers as if they are morons, and will finally deliver a clipped, sarcastic remark and walk off.
Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, perhaps the greatest football coach of all time, seldom praises his team after big victories, acts almost as if they lost, mutters clichés and appears disgruntled, distracted, dismissive, as if he’s got a severe tooth ache and is about to visit a dentist.
Bobby Knight often accused interviewers of being stupid and accused their questions of being stupid and seemed to experience great satisfaction in making them look and feel stupid.
My question is, how stupid do these people feel when they ask these idiotic, insipid questions?