Athlete Skipping Media Obligations

txgymfan

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Naomi Osaka one of the top ranked tennis players has declared that she is skipping media obligations at the French Open this year because she thinks it’s detrimental to her mental health.


I have my own opinions but I wondered what you all thought about it. There are four major tennis tournaments a year, each last two weeks for the players that make the finals. Osaka has been fined $15,000 for missing the first press conference and has been threatened with more severe consequences if she continues to refuse.

What would you think if an Olympic gold medal contender refused to talk to the press? What do you think the consequences (if any )should be for skipping it?
 

Pirouette

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We heard that news while watching coverage this weekend. I get where she's coming from. Some of the questions they are asked are not designed to encourage them. Why are they forced to put on a show before the real show - the match?

I do like that she hopes the fines she pays get put toward mental health care issues.
 

Geoffrey Taucer

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I don't know the specifics of her contract or relevant French laws.

That said, I have a very very hard time imagining a situation in which I'd be okay with fining an athlete (or any worker) for doing something they felt was necessary for their own physical or mental health.
 
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txgymfan

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I don't know the specifics of her contract or relevant French laws.

That said, I have a very very hard time imagining a situation in which I'd be okay with finding an athlete (or any worker) for doing something they felt was necessary for their own physical or mental health.
I don’t think the media obligation is part of French Law , I believe it’s part of the athlete’s contract with the Tennis association. I know that it’s required after every round of all four majors.

What would happen to the tournament if every athlete skipped every press conference? Should it be required of only some athletes or only some rounds of the tournament?

Personally, I’m fine with keeping the meetings short. However, I do think it’s part of the athlete’s obligation to the tournament to talk to reporters. Less than 150 players have the privilege of playing in any major and like it or not without the media the tournament could not happen.

One solution might be to provide additional training to the athletes on how to deal with difficult questions. Minor athletes ( less than 18) could also have a representative with them to help. Osaka is a tour veteran and older than eighteen.
 

wandrewsjr

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Well, Osaka has withdrawn. This is an extraordinarily thoughtful and vulnerable statement. I wish her the best. I am betting Roland Garos wish they could have a do over. Because what tournaments need more than players doing press after matches is the best players in the world actually playing in those matches.

 

kendo348

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I have always thought it is dumb that we require athletes to speak with the press. One because they usually give the same canned responses to the same badly written leading questions, and two because they are there to compete/perform - which should be sufficient for the media and public if the expectation otherwise had not been created. Elite athletes put a lot of work into their mental preparation and then we allow the media to pressure them on the spot in public. I have a good bit of social anxiety myself and this would be a real barrier for me. Being a gregarious public speaker should not be a requirement for high-level competition. I’m glad she spoke up and is standing up for her priorities.
 

PreciousJ

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I was listening to local sports talk radio this morning (I'm a huge fan of all sports), and Naomi was a topic of discussion. The host raised the point that while Naomi hasn't publicly discussed it, that Japanese media and sports leaders may be pressuring her regarding appearing in the Olympics. I don't know what her stance is on Olympics participation, but there is still controversy within Japan about whether they should take place. Naomi is probably Japan's biggest sports star, so her appearance is important. It was speculated that this situation may be adding to the anxiety she spoke about.
 

txgymfan

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I’m sure that there is stress from all sides. She has sponsors, the regular WTA Tour, the Grand Slam Tournaments and her federation. They all want her time and attention. She is also responsible for the business of having a coach, fitness trainer, agent, manager and whoever else she employs. I don’t know if could handle that stress at 23. On the flip side, she is the highest paid female athlete in the world.