I found it amusing today to read about the NFL Network’s full frontal faux pas in broadcasting post-game interviews in the Bengal’s locker room while inadvertently showing a number of naked players. It reminded me of the only time I was in a major league locker room, a memory burned into my psyche.
In college, I was the News Director for the campus radio station and a good friend of mine did the morning sports reports. He arranged for us both to have press credentials for Texas Rangers home games. He went because he was a sports reporter; I went to games because, back then, the Rangers served free food and beer to the media.
I didn’t go often, but when I did I tagged along with my friend like a legitimate reporter to the press box to watch the game while trying to act like I knew more about baseball and sports reporting than I did. I never attended the post-game interviews because, by that point in the night, I had already had my fill of free food and beer. There wasn’t much sense in carrying on the charade any longer.
On one occasion, however, my friend insisted I join him in the post-game interview scrum. He was going to get soundbites with Reggie Jackson – Mr. October. This was in the late 1970’s, and Jackson was still very active and still a very, very big deal.
I traipsed into the locker room trying to look like I belonged amid the gaggle. Mr. Jackson soon appeared and stood before his locker answering questions very politely. He had nothing to hide…literally. He absolutely held nothing back including a towel, fig leaf or well-placed baseball mitt. There must have been a dozen or more reporters circled around this world-class athlete…this very naked world-class athlete.
I realize this is common practice in sports team locker rooms and no one there blinked an eye. Mr. Jackson certainly handled the situation like a pro.
I, however, was a wide-eyed young news guy. I wasn’t thinking about questions to ask this baseball great. I was only thinking I really wanted to be a closed-eyed news guy.
I found the practice of interviewing athletes in the locker room weird then, and I still do. Why is that necessary?
I wonder if the NFL Network’s blue moment this past Sunday may open some other eyes to the oddity of it.
Posted by Michael Main