Postgame Interview Heard Round the World

The Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers yesterday to earn a trip to the Super Bowl to face the Denver Broncos.

While the game featured strong plays on both sides of the ball it was ultimately decided by an interception in the end zone that was aided by a tipped ball.

As one can imagine tipping a ball that leads to an interception that in turn leads one’s team to the Super Bowl is a pretty big deal.

Mere seconds after the game ended Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, the man who tipped the ball that led to the interception, which sealed the victory for his team, was asked by the sideline reporter to describe how he felt.

What followed was a player filled with excitement telling the reporter how he felt about the play as well as taking a few shots at the wide receiver for the 49ers.

Almost as soon as the words were out of Sherman’s mouth the social media citizen journalists were up in arms with a rapid opinion about whether Sherman’s words were over the top or just right.

Such is the world of immediate response that we now find ourselves in.

It reminds me of the movie Judge Dredd where Sylvester Stallone was part of a breed of law enforcement that served out instant justice when a crime was committed which included execution of the offender in some cases.

After all in the world of Judge Dredd who needed a trial by jury when instant street justice could be served at a huge savings to the tax payers.

Thank goodness that we do not live in a police state where that sort of thing occurs but in a way the instant response through social media can be just as bad.

Television reporters are trained to find the key players for a post-game interview as soon as possible.

They ask a leading question and usually get a canned cliché answer and then throw it back up to the booth. Lather, rinse, repeat such is the nature of televised sports in the 21st Century.

So when the sideline reporter stuck the microphone in Sherman’s face I am sure she was expecting a quick little quote along the lines of, “we have a good ball club, we played hard, and we are looking forward to facing the Broncos in the Super Bowl.”

Nine times out of ten it happens just like that. But it is that one time when someone goes off the script and speaks true emotion that makes for good television.

Did Richard Sherman go a little over the top in his response? Probably.

Should he be turned into the villain in social media that he became? Of course not.

For years I have felt that there should be a cooling off period following a game before players and coaches are interviewed.

In all of my sideline interviews this was the approach that I took.

Granted, as a newspaper reporter I had the luxury of not needing a quick sound bite for the broadcast but I respected that the players and coaches needed some time to cool off.

More times than not the coaches would talk to their players briefly and then come over to me for the post-game interview.

This gave the coaches and players time to collect their thoughts and usually made for better post-game quotes as well then the typical cliché answers that coaches are known for.

Of course there were still times that I got the canned quotes as well but for the most part my approach worked.

I have little doubt that had Richard Sherman had the chance to cool off a little before being interviewed his response would have been less about “me” and more about “we.”

In fact his quotes did get more along those lines the further removed from the play he became.

Heat of the moment responses are not limited to the world of football though.

In NASCAR drivers are often interviewed seconds after a wreck before they have had time to digest what happened and in many cases they are still in shock from the effects of getting bounced around at 200 mph.

Most of the time the drivers give the company response but there are also times when emotion gets the best of them.

Drivers have even been fined for their remarks when they were deemed to have gone too far.

This is another reason why a cooling off period would be beneficial.

Give the driver time to collect their thoughts before shoving a microphone in their face for the sound bite.

Unfortunately I don’t think a cooling off period will ever be implemented.

Athletes will continue to give impassioned quotes now and then that go against the norm but they are said in the heat of the moment and should be considered as such.

The next time you hear an impassioned post-game quote like Richard Sherman’s try to think how you would feel if someone was interviewing you seconds after everything you had worked your whole life towards was one step closer to reality. With that perspective odds are you might cut them a little slack if they go a little overboard.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden urge to watch some old Sylvester Stallone movies.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson