BY: OLIVIA VARNSON
(Gainesville, Ga.) – Marshawn Lynch, running back for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League, has long opposed the mandatory media interviews after every regular season and playoff game. This season, Lynch found a way around the fines that come with avoiding the media.
He attended each interview, but he refused to answer their questions. Sometimes, he did not speak a single word. Other times his only response would be, “Thanks for asking.”
Towards the end of the playoff season, as the Seahawks geared up to face the New England Patriots, Lynch responded to every question with a brutally honest, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”
Sports media writers and anchors were critical of Lynch’s refusal to cooperate. Many have said that part of Lynch’s job as a professional athlete is to interact with the media. Compared to his million-dollar paycheck, fame and glory, they think speaking with media for 10 minutes after every game is a small price to pay. In their eyes, it is Lynch’s duty to answer their questions and when he does not comply, he is doing the fans and the league a disservice.
In a few repetitive words, Lynch is making a statement. It challenges the authority of NFL officials, refuses to comply with media narratives and speaks to everyday people.
Lynch’s teammate Richard Sherman, cornerback, has also given the media grief in the past. He criticized the media for asking “pre-school questions” and told them that if they “improved [their] line of questioning,” he would be more likely to answer them.
For NFL beat writers who cover a team game to game, they most likely have the bulk of their postgame article written before they interview athletes. What they’re looking for from an interview are answers that will fit their narrative. Sometimes, the questions are so simplistic – “What was going through your mind at the end of the game?” or “Can you talk about how you covered Tom Brady?” – that the athlete has no idea what kind of story they are helping to write.
Athletes should not be punished if they would rather let their play do the talking.
As a professional athlete, Lynch has signed up for season after season of sacrificing his body, and often his mind, to contribute to the game. He and his fellow athletes are performing under the public eye, where millions of people dissect every move he makes. Instead of giving even more of himself over to the NFL, the media and the general public, Lynch has found a way to draw a line, to preserve what little is left of his privacy. He should be celebrated for that.