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3 Reasons the Sports Media HAS to Ask Those Awkward Questions

Written by Brian Clapp

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Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has just won the Super Bowl, it is without a doubt the greatest moment of his sports career, his smile bending from ear-to-ear, his voice trembling with an over-enthused staccato. Most of us watching Rodgers run from network to network through the gauntlet of post-game interviews have a half-cringe on our face. We all know ‘the question’ is coming, you know, the incredibly awkward and obligatory ‘Brett Favre’ one.

WHY?! Why do the sports media members always have to focus on the awkward rather than just embrace this incredible moment of Rodgers career?

Here are 3 reasons why the Sports Media HAS to ask:

1: What if this is the time their interview subject decides to speak freely?

The cardinal rule of being a lawyer is ‘don’t ask any questions you don’t already know the answer to’, in the media it’s the exact opposite. It’s a huge mistake to predict how someone will answer a question; it leads to self-censorship.  An interviewer is hoping their subject answers in a way they don’t expect because that is interesting.

What if after winning the Super Bowl and feeling like this was HIS moment, Rodgers decided to say “can we finally stop talking about Favre, the guy was a jerk to me and I think he’s self-centered and ego-centric!”  To Rodgers credit he didn’t, but he could have.

If no media member asks the tough question, there is no chance to get the unexpected answer.

2: Sports Media members have bosses too

News Directors and Executive Producers expect their Sports Reporters and hosts to get provocative story angles often by asking difficult questions. News Directors are goaled against ratings, sad to say but interview blow-ups bring ratings and often ‘go viral’ on YouTube. It’s a business folks, and big ratings means big advertising dollars.

The Sports Media is a competitive landscape, if one media member doesn’t ask the awkward question, rest assured their competitor will and that won’t make their bosses happy.

3: Asking tough questions gets you inside the personality of your interview subject

The audience learns so much about an athlete by the way they handle those uncomfortable moments. How many times would you guess Aaron Rodgers has been asked about Brett Favre? How many times would you guess Rodgers has answered calmly, maturely and respectfully? Now, tell me 5 words you would use to describe Rodgers. Were any of them negative?

Rodgers has created a positive public persona by the way he has handled adversity with class. If no one in the media ever asked Rodgers these awkward Brett Favre questions, we would never see the depth of his personality and what makes him such a great leader and teammate.

The purpose of an interview is to find out something interesting about the subject, awkward questions often lead to the most interesting answers, good and bad.

But it can be a job hazard too, just ask Jim Rome how he feels about former NFL QB Jim Everett.

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