Media tough act for college athletes

5

From the sidelines

By Marty Gordon

Reporters are not the easiest people to deal with, and sometimes we ask some tough questions. Nothing can be more head scratching then when a reporter gets a chance to ask a college athlete a few questions about their play.

Earlier this week, the Big South Conference, which includes Radford University, held its annual basketball media day kickoff in Charlotte. Before players from each school met with reporters, they were given a little advice from longtime television, radio and print expert, Tom Werme.

Radford University point guard Calik Jones was named the conference’s preseason player of the year. On the court, he has garnered many awards and honors. Off the court, he considers himself a little shy and knows he has to improve his interview skills.

During an early morning session, Jones was walked through an interview for a fake sports story.

This was my first time doing such a course,” said Jones. “I think it was very beneficial for me and the other athletes. I learned to be more comfortable as I have been nervous doing such things before.”
RU women’s basketball player Sydney Nunley also took part in the seminar. She, too, had to face a strange interviewer with some unique questions. She admitted learning to be more comfortable in answering the questions.

Now, I will think about what I am about to say,” she said.

Both of the RU players know they will someday be faced with the reality of having to deal with reporters.

Werme thinks this type of seminar is very beneficial to the student-athletes. “We have also worked with several of the coaching staffs in the Big South to deal with similar situations. I think overall it’s a ripple effect as everyone learns how to communicate effectively not just as an athlete but as a person, too,” he said.

Who knows but ne day these athletes might be asked what would they do with two airline tickets to anywhere in the world? Where would they go?

That was a question a CBS-affiliated radio station based in Charlotte asked the athletes and coaches on Monday afternoon.

How did they respond? Well, Nunley told the reporter for now that getting the tickets would be against NCAA rules and she could not accept them. But after she graduates, she might use them to go almost anywhere around the globe.

In turn, the reporter laughed and probably admitted Nunley gave the right answer to a silly question to ask a student-athlete.

I’m sure I have asked similarly crazy questions and probably will again in the future. The question is how the athlete will respond. I hope the athlete thinks about the answer before he or she says something off the cuff.

Yes, student-athletes are only human. But so are we as sports reporters. Media training is important to everyone, even the person asking the questions.