Welcome to Premier Sideline and Post Game Sports Academy, the number one institution preparing paying students to break into the exciting world of sideline and post game sports reporting. Right now you’re thinking, ” Heck, I can’t think of anything to ask elite athletes in the few moments they have outside of the mortal combat that is professional sports.” No worries. Before we’re done today, you’ll be slicker than an eel in Vaporub.
The key to effective sideline work is remembering that an athlete or coach gets a huge kick out of being questioned before, during, and after a game. They’ll pretend to be harried or dismissive, but that’s simply their way of inviting a second or third version of the same question asked with increasing urgency. Try to get as physically close to your interview as possible. If you can actually get a microphone to touch the subject’s face, you’ll find rapport almost immediately. Finally, remember that there are four surefire types of questions that never fail to bring a television audience to a deeper understanding of the game.
I, “How does/did you feel …”
There is simply no way the average viewer can imagine the emotion that follows victory or defeat. The more significant the challenge (World Series, Superbowl, Stanley Cup, US Open), the more unexpected the response is likely to be. Who can begin to guess how an athlete feels in the aftermath of being trounced? What might be in a coach’s mind after an expected underdog has blown his team off the field? Viewers need our help in accessing the deepest emotions so that they can more completely understand what motivates players and coaches at the highest level of competition. If you can get to a coach in the first seconds after the final whistle, you’ll be the one to capture the illuminating insights he or she has to share with a disappointed public.
II. “How do you explain…?”
Let’s say you’ve broken into the lucrative ice skating field. A young Olympic hopeful has caught an edge in her final performance, sprawling across the ice at high speed. She’s sustained a nasty abrasion across her face and upper body, her spangled costume is shredded, and her coach has stormed out of the building. The viewer at home is puzzled. Why has she dynamited her chances of reaching fame and fortune? It’s up to you to ask the question, probing beyond whatever response she gives to a more profound admission of her tangled aberrations of personality. Once you’ve opened the floodgates, perhaps suggesting some form of abuse at home, who knows what magical insights might spill past the tears?
III. “Why did you/don’t you …”
Once again, you can’t go wrong in helping the viewer understand the fine points of the game or contest. Coaches are paid enormous sums of money to conceptualize and execute performances that bring victory. Win or lose, they enjoy sharing the thought processes that have resulted in their team’s performance. Don’t be timid. You’re an expert too. Go ahead and ask the question any viewer would ask in your position. For example, a professional basketball game often ends with a final play that decides the outcome of the contest. Go ahead, ask the coach: “Why don’t you guys shoot like the Warriors?” “Why doesn’t your player hauling down eighteen million dollars a year make the open shot” “Why do you always lose the close games?” You are bound to find a warm response and a wealth of information.
IV. “Do you think …”
We have a responsibility to take on the most significant issues of our time, recognizing that athletes in particular have much to say about the world beyond the field or court. Ask a player what he thinks about the professional athlete’s lifestyle in comparison to the experience of a homeless mother camping in an abandoned trailer with her five children. Ask about gender reassignment. Ask about the impact of a jump in interest rate by the Federal Reserve. Almost all professional football players have attended colleges and universities of national repute; they are certainly prepared to contend with the thorniest of questions, and they’ll appreciate your confidence in their intellectual acumen.
Sure, there may be missteps along the way, awkward misunderstandings, but the viewer understands that your intention are good and will easily forgive the occasional gaffe. So you asked Doug Williams how long he’d been a Black quarterback, you asked Shaun Phillips if the Super Bowl was a “must win” game, so you asked Richard Sherman how to stop football players from going to strip clubs, so you congratulated Nicholas Mahut on winning a match he had lost, so you asked Shaquille O’Neal if he would suck snake venom from his mom’s chest in order to win a championship?
Come on! The public has a right to know!
Fortunately they can count on the next generation of sideline and postgame pundits to keep the fans in the game. Here at Premiere Sideline and Post Game Sports Academy, you’ll get the training you need to take your place in the pantheon of great pundits, the next to ask Bill Belichick if he maps out routines for Patriot cheerleaders or Nick Saban if Alabama players can actually read and write. Your future lies ahead and for a mere thousand dollars a week more, you can couple your PSPGSA degree with the certification program offered through the Premiere PGA Hole Description Academy or the Premiere ABA Whispered Bowling PLay-By-Play Academy.
Meanwhile, remember defense wins championships, you can’t coach height, and there is no “I” in team.