Life / Television

The Question Games

If there is one thing athletes and politicians have in common it is that they are either unwilling or incapable of answering a simple question with a straight answer. Granted, these post-win Olympic interviews are the most ridiculous concept since the Snuggie…

Michael Phelps Interviewed

Interviewer: Michael Phelps, you are the winningest Olympic athlete ever. You are virtually a god among mortals, a shining tower of virility and male power. Your legend will live for countless generations. How do you plan to spend the rest of your life knowing that you have already peaked at 27 and that nothing you ever do will mean as much, no triumph will ever feel as great, and the lights will never be as bright as they are right now?

Phelps: Uhhh…

Even so, it seems like athletes can’t even manage the straight-forward questions without trying to spin things.

Interviewer: Serena Williams, what kind of racquet were you using in this convincing victory over Maria Sharapova?

Williams: Well, you know, even with my great racquet, I couldn’t have done it without the support of my fans and the USA and my dog Romy and that guy over there and Subway! Eat Fresh!

Politicians have great need for this kind of misdirection, because they are — for the most part — lying. They have platforms to build, agendas to hide, skeletons to closet, motivations to blur, and most importantly they have to emphasize that whoever they are running against is the worst human being to ever walk the planet. The drive to “creatively interpret” basic questions is easily understood for politicians, if no less ridiculous.

But what exactly causes athletes to engage in this behavior? All they really have to do in an interview is not insult the other team/players, avoid dropping the F-bomb, and not make any racist and/or sexist remarks. Hell, half the time, the fact that they’re running around in their underwear is perfectly okay. So if they’re already mostly naked and don’t have an offshore account for the funds from the prostitution ring they run out of the state courthouse, why do they feel compelled to ignore perfectly reasonable inquiries?

Tom Brady

Interviewer: What did you tell your teammates in the huddle before you scored the go-ahead touchdown with five seconds left?

Tom Brady: I’ve said a lot of things to my teammates over the years. I’ll never forget the first day I signed with the Patriots, you know? Putting on that uniform, it’s special. I live for days like this, when we come together as a team. And it did all come together right then. I just saw Welker over the middle there and knew. I just knew, you know? You know how you know? When you just know? That’s how I knew. And that’s the greatest feeling in the world.

One possible explanation is that these are Alphas. Personalities that are used to having their way, taking what they want, reshaping the world as they see fit to. They march to their own goddamn drum, and they certainly aren’t going to let some lowly reporter direct their thoughts with meaningful questions.

Interviewer: Can you…?

Kobe Bryant: I poured in 78 points and we still lost! What does that mean? No teamwork! That’s what! If these guys would just feed me the ball more, we could have won the series. Hell, there were times when I felt like I was alone out there, watching my team all the way down at some other end of the court trying to keep the other team from scoring. If they had spent less time doing that and more time tossing me the rock, you’d be singing a whole different tune into your little microphone!

Interviewer: Um, yeah…like I was saying, can you move out of the way?

Another possibility is that they have been coached to say anything other than what the reporter wants out of the fear that a real answer might reveal too much or be taken completely out of context. Which, of course, happens all the time. Especially if you’re Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise is grilling you about some pansy who couldn’t cut it in the Marines…

Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men


Of course, this kind of thinking just opens the door for all kinds of abstractions. If our athletes refuse to tell us anything related to the games they play in, what exactly will they start saying in interviews?

Interviewer: You just won the Super Bowl! What are you going to do now?

Jamaal Charles: Jurassic Park is an awesome movie. I just watched it for the first time last night, and DAMN those T-Rexes were fierce! It was intense. Then I watched The Vow. It had a lot less dinosaurs. See, the woman gets amnesia and forgets her husband, and he tries to get her to remember, but she doesn’t, and they break up, but then they end up back together. It wasn’t great. I ate popcorn while I watched it. That was pretty good.

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