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Sports journalists should thank Naomi Osaka.

Athletes create jobs for sports journalists. Sports journalists do not create athletes.

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Naomi Osaka doesn’t want to do after-match interviews for her own mental health, and that should be the end of the discussion. I don’t know anybody who would want to talk to THE PRESS after work, especially after a bad day at work, but we expect athletes to give us soundbytes after they just poured their heart out on the floor.

Tennis is pushing back against her. The French Open wants her to play badly and fined her $15,000. Other tennis players have said Naomi should be gracious and do interviews because they’re in a privileged position as tennis stars and they wouldn’t be able to make all of that money without the visibility the press provides.

But — is that really true?

I like Beyonce because I like watching her perform.

I like Octavia Spencer because I like watching her act.

I like Naomi Osaka because I like watching her play tennis.

I don’t need them to do interviews for me to like them or make them popular. I’m not sure why sports journalists think they are necessary to boost an athlete into stardom. No other entertainment journalists think THEY are the reason their industry stars are stars, but suddenly tennis players should be thankful for interviews?

I’m going to watch Naomi whether she does interviews or not, and honestly, I have literally never watched a post-match press interview in my entire life. I’ve only seen two clips — one where Sloane Stephens talked about how nice the paycheck is and one where Andy Roddick corrected a journalist about Serena William’s greatness.

Please tell a sports writer you know that they are irrelevant and it is THEY who should be thankful for athletes giving them something to write about, not the other way around. Athletes create jobs for sports journalists. Sports journalists do not create athletes.

 

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Athletes

Carl Nassib is the NFL’s first active gay player.

Another pride month win for representation!

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Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out of the closet earlier today and his statement almost brought me to tears.

Nothing he said was particularly emotional, but it just took me back to junior high school, having rocks thrown at me, getting into fights on the bus, hearing faggot every day, and seeing no way past the torture of being bullied by jocks who thought it was fun to beat up on the gay kid.

It was just cool to beat up on the gay kid. Whether you were actually homophobic or not didn’t matter — you bullied the gay kid because other guys bullied the gay kid and that’s just how it was. It’s not as cool as it once was. Homophobia still exists, but outright support also exists in a way I didn’t experience, and sometimes that counterbalance is all you need for a homophobe to seethe quietly since he doesn’t have enough peers to feed into the bullying.

I’m trying to picture how I would have felt in junior high if an NFL player came out and his commissioner, coach, and teammates were all behind him. I probably would’ve been bullied anyway, to some extent at least, but I definitely would’ve believed it actually does get better, because I didn’t at the time. Saying “it gets better” doesn’t mean anything to a kid who wants to die because he’s the only gay person he knows, he dreads facing his peers because he doesn’t know if someone will light his homework on fire or hit him with a flagpole, and the only gay people on TV are fictional comic relief. Seeing a gay man in the center of a hypermasculine, heterosexual, aggressive environment means much more. It means not everyone is out to get you and you won’t be tortured forever, because if he can find support in the NFL, you can find support somewhere too.

 

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Athletes

Simone Biles for Glamour Magazine

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Thanks to a global pandemic, the greatest gymnast in history was forced to spend part of the last year finding some equilibrium in a life that had previously been all about the work. “I lived, I traveled, I did things I couldn’t do because of gymnastics,” she says. Now, as she prepares for the 2021 Olympics—maybe her last (!!!)—the 24-year-old is a approaching her sport with a new sense of joy.

(cont.)

 

Glamour magazine said y’all not finna drag them for not lighting a Black model appropriately!

 

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Athletes

HuffPo: Shelby Houlihan Blames Positive Steroid Test On Pork Burrito

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Shelby Houlihan, the American record holder in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters, posted on social media that she’s been banned for four years following a positive test for what she concluded was a tainted pork burrito.

(cont.)

I was ready to write this story off as another athlete caught doping and trying to lie about it, but maybe she’s telling the truth. I found a study showing the link between nandrolone and eating pork as early as 2002.

Should one positive test (which could be a false-positive!) for a banned substance get you kicked out of your career for four years or should there be a follow up? She had her hair tested to prove there had been nothing in her system over time and submitted to a polygraph, and neither of those sound like the actions of someone trying to pull one over on the competition.

 

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