Coach speak: the relationship between coaches and media

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I was speaking with a coach back in August when they told they just have to take the team’s preseason preparation day-by-day, one day at a time and other variations of that. The next day, I have a different coach from a different school and who coaches a different sport on the phone. 

I asked him how he tells the team to keep a level-head after having of postseason success last year and he tells me the team just has to take it day-by-day and stay focused on one practice at a time. I am not being hyperbolic when I say they said the exact same thing yet never have met.

The reason for this is the culture that has formed very quickly since the rise of technology has led to any celebrity and figurehead, like a coach, susceptible to intense scrutiny for something they say almost immediately after they say it. That culture has turned into one where the coaches throw a massive amount of clichés at reporters because they have to speak but are afraid of saying the wrong thing.

Now this isn’t to demonize the coaches for what they’re doing, in fact, I wholly support it. To say the wrong thing could affect job security and you have to look out for that first and foremost. But it’s a shame that the power of the media is so feared because it eliminates the ability to actually get good information from the coach.

Now every sports reporter knows ways to work around the clichés to get into specifics but our culture of jumping on every little non-politically correct thing has led to a coach in the NFL literally saying, “We’ve got to be better with our hands and our feet and our positions.”

There is also the angle that frankly, with how often coaches have to speak to the media it’s just easier to do so with clichés. This post-game relationship with the media isn’t the normal relationship a coach has with a media member either.

Sports reporters usually build up professional relationships with those that they cover and it becomes similar to the way a co-worker would interact with one another. So oftentimes this clichéd speak is at worst during these post-game press conferences.

The whole point to my writing about this odd relationship between the coach and the media that is perfectly embodied by the clichés is because I think it’s a shame that we are so quick to jump down someone’s throat if they say something slightly off.

If a coach was asked about how the team moves forward and he said something along the lines of, “Well we have to work on our offensive line because they were the main weakness.” People would immediately go after him for not “protecting his players” even though at the professional and college level, the players should be able to take criticism from the media.

At the high school level, it is more forgivable especially because the coaches don’t do it as often likely because the scope of the anger they would face is infinitely smaller than if they were at University of Texas or with the Houston Texans.

I just think we shouldn’t shame coaches for being honest with us if you truly want insightful information into the games that we love. It would require a mix of cooperation by the media to not hound the coaches or the groups he points out are responsible for the loss and the coaches to trust the media once again.

I understand that some would say that’s part of being a coach is to protect your players and at the high school and to some degree the college level I agree with that so it’s more forgivable. But at the professional level, these are grown men and women who are being paid for the job and part of that job is working with the media.

So it’s a two-way street in who is responsible for the clichés that have polluted game coverage especially post-game but it is one that if it were to change, it would open up so much more information for the fans. 

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