A Sports Reporters Worst Enemy

Is this the face of someone you'd want to challenge at a press conference? (Photo Courtesy: Esquire)

Ian Rapoport has a dream job, but that doesn’t mean it is all sunshine and roses.

As the New England Patriots beat reporter for the Boston Herald Rapoport (@rapsheet) is forced to match wits on a daily basis with noted curmudgeon and football savant Bill Belichick. Over his 12 years as the head coach in New England Belichick has trained the sports media to be just the way he wants them, on their heels.

Success combined with a thorny disposition has made getting straightforward information out of Belichick harder than getting Maria Sharapova to call me back.

Belichick can be demeaning (“I don’t know what game footage you’re looking at”), cliché-filled (“we need to coach better, run better, pass better, defend better”) or just flat out avoid questions (“I’m not here to solve all the world’s problems”). If he hadn’t won three Super Bowls he probably would have been run out of town by now. (see: Browns, Cleveland)

But the seemingly masochistic Rapoport presses on.

During a recent interview on Boston radio station WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan show Rapoport was asked, ‘why do you even bother asking questions of Belichick’:

“I always ask questions and usually you just get a blank stare. Sometimes the silence is awkward since no one else is asking questions, but you have to do something so we’re all not just sitting there awkwardly staring at one another. The real reason you ask is because every once in a while he’ll give you something where you say ‘wow, I’m really glad I asked that’. Like at the end of the Philadelphia Eagles post-game presser when he talked about why he is so hard to play for.”

I have been at many press conferences over my career and the phrase ‘full of awkward silence’ would never be an appropriate description. The takeaway here is simple: self-censorship is a sports reporters’ worst enemy. To sit back and let a coach or athlete off the hook by not pressing an issue is a failure by all journalistic measuring sticks.

Athletes can be difficult, coaches prickly and media relations folks downright rude – but the job remains the same; ask probing questions, push through any awkwardness and have confidence you’re doing the job the way it was meant to be done.

As Rapoport concludes, “it’s like a college kid at a bar who strikes out with the first 20 girls they talk to, but then by the end of the night they finally find the right one and think ‘alright that was worth it’!”

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Article by Brian

I am a 12-year veteran of the Sports TV industry with experience as a Writer, Producer, Video Editor and News Director. I've held stints at both CNN/Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports Net Northwest. I was destined for a career in sports ever since I started sneaking out of bed at age seven to watch Celtics games on Channel 38 in Boston. My Sophomore year at the University of Delaware, I declared my major in Communication/TV Production and the rest is history. I'm an avid sports fan, husband, father of two and I currently live in the Pacific Northwest. Brian tagged this post with: , , , Read 65 articles by
2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. pam says:

    well done clapp.i HATED trying to pull sots from his pressers. he never gave you anything

  2. Brian says:

    Thanks pam - but as you know it’s the job of a good reporter/producer to break through and persist even in the face of belichick…or parcells…or saban…or…

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