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Sport has value on and off field
There is an NFL athlete with the Seahawks named Marshawn Lynch who has said he does not like to talk a lot, especially to the media - and during the Super Bowl this year, he actively boycott the media interviews. During the Super Bowl he showed up to his interview only to avoid being fined but said nothing of any significance to the reporters. On media day he repeatedly answered reporters’ questions with “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” for the entire four and a half minutes. Of course, this clearly frustrated the reporters.
After watching several interviews where he met the minimum requirements of his NFL contract, it became quite comical to watch. The reporters were frustrated but fans have been loving it! Marshawn has a clothing line called “Beast Mode” and if you go on his website you will see that every single item for both men and women as well as every cap – everything is completely sold out!!
But Lynch is more than just a rebel or what would seem to be a selfish child. He just does not like to do the interviews, being asked the same questions repeatedly. What he likes doing is playing football and helping the community he grew up in. When you look beyond the boycott, he is a simple man and an entrepeneur.
Everyone has probably heard it said that “any publicity is good publicity,” be it good or bad. Whether you do something right or something regal, if it is something that people are talking about, it is good publicity because your name is being said and people are listening.
Chris Gayle recently received disciplinary notice from the WICB disciplinary committee for what some refer to as his “public outburst” against the exclusion of Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo by the team selection committee. Gayle mentioned victimization as the reason for it following the walk-out during the India tour in October last year when Bravo was the team captain. Since then I have read articles and listened to interviews by athletes past and present and fans with their opinions on the whole scenario.
Now step back and look at the two scenarios ie. Lynch with the NFL versus Gayle with the WICB or even Bravo/WICB and observe the profound difference in the public relations – the media reaction, the cultural distinctions and the capitalist drive. In both instances the athlete is behaving in a fashion that “goes against the grain.” Expressing how they feel but maintaining composure.
In Marshawn’s case, the media at first scorned him for it but eventually they accepted it. Culturally, his fans rallied behind him and as capitalists do, there was money to be made through the “Beast Mode” brand and the sports industry continues to thrive.
So far, the media has mainly served as commentators in a tennis match. There has been no depth or creativity to build fanaticism in the midst of all this publicity. Our athletes get labeled “money-hungry cricketers” because of decisions they have made since withdrawing from the tour in India last year, a label I believe to be unfair and inaccurate. There is a lot more to these athletes and it would be nice to see the media delve into this aspect of these men. Build the fan support for the sport, regardless of what side the opinions lay. The bottom line is there is room for more.
Sport is the entertainment business and there is value in it both on and off the field. As one reporter explained about Lynch – he is not one of those athletes who got into football for the stardom; he simply enjoys playing football and is good at it. He does not like to talk about his feelings – it is not who he naturally is inclined to be as a person. He does however, really enjoy giving back to the community he came from. He is happy to speak about what he is doing to make life better for people who live under stressful circumstances there, particularly the youths. The media eventually switched gears from criticising him for being who he is to embracing it. This is the depth that would be nice to see in local and regional sport coverage. The media has the potential to create the platform that can bridge sport with its fans beyond the obvious conflict in the region surrounding cricket right now.
Asha De Freitas-Moseley M.S. A.T.C., A. has been an athletic trainer/therapist with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) for the past 12 years. She specializes in the rehabilitation of injuries experienced in the lives of active and/or athletic populations applying Active Release Technique (ART), Facial Stretch Therapy (FST) and Contemporary Dry Needling to complement her training as a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist. If you would like a consultation or have an injury, she can be reached at Pulse Performance Ltd., located at #17 Henry Pierre St., St. James. Tel: 221-2437.
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