10 Rules For Media Days: How To Make Them Better
With the media day silly season kicking off, here are ten rules to make them better for players, coaches, and the media
10 Rules For Media Days
Allow me to try negotiating a preemptive strike peace before any sort of a skirmish breaks out.
Considering today’s day and age of anti-media bombast, and with college football media days getting rolling, we all need an understanding going forward that 1) we’re all on the same side and 2) these promotional events have to be more interesting.
We get it. Media days are mostly about hanging out with other media members to get all drinky – if we’re lucky – on an expense account. And for the conferences, they’re about kicking off the excitement for the upcoming season.
But there’s still a job to do from all sides. and that means everyone has to up their game so media days can stop being so boring.
Media, we all need to be sharper, more focused, and can’t ask the same old lazy questions. Players and coaches, you need to bring the funk and not just mail it in.
So to make this all work for everyone, here are ten rules we all need to agree to. Follow them, and we’ll make a desperate and demoralized world a much better place.
10. Media: It’s Not About You
All of us in the media want to be recognized, respected, and loved, but that’s what the hotel bar is for.
No one cares what local TV station you’re from.
No one will suddenly tune in because you prefaced your non-question with, “Chip Barksdale, 930 The Sports Zoo … talk about … .”
No player, coach, or other media member will think you’re cool because of that corporate logo on your swaggy golf shirt.
Media, just ask your questions, and keep the line moving. We’ll promise to do that, but …
9. Schools: Get Your Guys To SPEAK UP
We all understand that not everyone is going to be Charles Barkley when it comes to answering questions, and we all get that some of the best players and coaches have the personality of a floor lamp.
But even if they can’t talk, we at least need to hear them.
We’ll try not to crowd around your guys, and we’ll do everything we can not to shove our various devices in their faces, but if they don’t have a mic in front of them to pump their comments out to the rest of the room, they’ve GOT to be loud.
Schools, this actually helps your guys. If we can’t hear what’s being said, there’s a good chance we’ll ask some of the same questions over again, or ask your guys to repeat themselves.
And no one wants that, especially it the answer sucks the first time around.
8. Media: TV/Video/Radio Guys … MOVE
If you’re a medium-sized media person or outlet, you should be able to arrange one-on-one time with the players and coaches you really need.
If you’re kind of a big deal, you’ll have your own room and the top guys will be brought to you.
If you don’t fall under either of those categories, and there are a slew of reporters crowding around a guy trying to get something, then don’t bully your way up front and dominate the moment with your camera, mic and lights.
And just because you’re asking questions on camera or for your podcast, that doesn’t mean everyone else can’t ask things, too.
Everyone will be respectful, of course, but don’t hog the interview.
7. Schools: These are MEDIA DAYS. Talk … To … The … Media
I’ll never understand it. They’re called Media Days, and yet some schools act like they’re forcing their guys to go see La La Land – again.
Athletic departments, you’re promoting a product, here. We’re here for you and to help pump you up.
We’re here to publicize you and your schools, so just for these short few days, sell yourselves. Have your coaches and players talk to absolutely everyone who wants to interview them.
Of course the big-name media outlets and stars get their moments, but let the young no-name guy get a few minutes on his own with the legendary head coach and the All-America quarterback, too.
That young no-name guy will probably have a massive social media following ten minutes from now, and he’ll someday be the one you need to suck up to when it comes time to vote for post-season things.
Of course, the players and coaches should be able to turn down things – more on that in a moment – but if there are requests to do 77 interviews, then have them hang around and do that, and more.
And to those coaches who get grouchy about doing this …
Part … of … the … job.
You’re it. You’re the national representative of your school. Be pleasant, have fun with it, endure the mundane, and talk to everybody.
6. Media: You Get Two Questions, Maximum
At least in a larger setting. If it’s your turn, ask a question, ask a follow up, and if others are waiting, let the next person go. Keep it moving. If you need more, there’s almost always a chance later.
If you’re lucky enough to get a one-on-one out of the blue, realize that the player or coach has at least 1,000 other things to do – and he’s probably hungry.
And remember – they’re just guys talking football.
Most of the players are going to be looking for a job in two years, and most of the coaches are freaking out about looking for a job in two years – they’re almost all cooler than you think. Have fun with it.
5. Schools: Bring The Guys The Media Wants To Talk To
In theory, that really awesome right guard who has a 4.0 GPA and brings Hot Pockets to baby seals might be the most interesting guy in the room, but he’s not the starting quarterback. He’s not the all-star linebacker, the Heisman-caliber running back, or the guy who just got busted for smoking the potpourri.
Some schools like to use media days as a sort of reward for the leaders and top upperclassmen, especially the ones who really are the student-athletes who best represent everything that college football should be about.
Feed us the future first round draft pick. We don’t care if he can’t put a coherent sentence together, we need to talk to the stars.
4. Media: No Stupid Stunts
Or if you’re going to try something silly, check with the sports information director first and set it up outside of the normal media session.
This isn’t an old guy Get Off My Lawn sort of thing – EVERYONE hates it when some outlet or aspiring media wannabe hijacks a session by having a player sing a silly song, or do an imitation, or wear a goofy hat.
Unfortunately, the biggest of college football media outlets do that way too often, too, because they know they can get away with it.
Yeah, everyone’s trying to come up with something that’ll get a gajillion clicks and be a social media hit, but don’t be that guy – or girl. Don’t make the rest of the working media hate you, and don’t put the player or coach in an uncomfortable position.
3. Schools: Yes, Your Guys Have To Answer The Same Question 39 Times, And Be Cool About It
Not everyone gets to hear what everyone else is asking. If someone is working on a piece and they really do need to get their own original quote about the big showdown in Week One against XYZ State, or if they missed the answer the first time around, then the coaches and players need to oblige without any attitude.
To put it into the proper context, the points in the fourth quarter count as much as the points in the first. Even after getting a little punchy at the end of a long day of talking to us dopey media types, everyone needs to fight through it.
2. Media: No More “Talk About”
Players and coaches, here’s the deal. From here on, when someone tells you to “talk about” something, instead of asking you a direct question, your answer can and should be a stern …
It’s our job to find out things from the players and coaches by asking the questions, and then it’s their job to answer in the way they see fit. They’re not supposed to have to talk on command.
We’ll give you that one, but that means …
1. Schools: No More “Work Hard”
And if that’s ever your answer, players and coaches, we in the media are allowed to answer-shame you.
Everyone works hard – it doesn’t mean anything.
Are you doing more leg lifts? Are you eating kale? Are you doing more film study? Are you fat-freezing to make up for those extra offseason Snickerdoodles?
We’re trying to find out what you do and how you do it. We’re trying to make you interesting – throw us a bone.
That might mean you’re not changing your routine, and it might mean you don’t have an answer – and that’s okay.
But if you give us the “work hard” response, then we’re seeing your alleged hard work and raising it with a big bag of Nick Saban’s “process” for you to groove on.