Should press conferences be moved to the beginning of events?

LastSacrifice

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
Press conferences during events are really crappy, especially ones that are post-discipline (with only the winners). Some skaters (like the ones from Japan/SK) are usually very quiet and serious, and the questions asked by the media like "You used the x jump sequence, seemed pretty consistent, can you tell us about that?" usually just leads to pretty straightforward answers like "yeah I landed it." or "Do you think the coaching move helped you?", I mean what can you say in response to that?

Contrast that to a press conference being done at the start of a competition, it gives the newcomer skaters and coaches a chance to say who they are, introduce themselves to the fans, and there is an opportunity for an open dialogue, like "So tell me about this new scoring rule..." or some skater will accidentally leak that they have a quad axel, or just a lighter atmosphere in general.

In other sports, let's take rugby, in a post-game conference, a big burly player will come on and say "oh yeah bloody the boys played well and uh yeah we played hard and uh yeah" or Bill Belichick giving NFL reporters the worst possible answer because they asked a completely stupid question. I think in a more unique sport (like FS), it's kind of a waste of resources if we just do media like how football or how rugby is doing media. Can anyone who worked in media shed a light?
 

mrrice

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Jul 9, 2014
They are not usually broadcast but, they used to have a press conference after each stage of competition. I remember seeing Jill Trenary's Press Conference after figures in 1990. She was so happy. Then she had a rough SP and she was basically in tears at that conference. She had a great LP and won the event due her huge lead in figure over Midori.
 

el henry

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I am not in the press corps (I was for a sportswriter for three months 45 years ago, but that doesn't count. :) ), but this is my take,

Pre-competition:
USFS has pre-competition pressers before Nats. They do exactly what you say, what I'm working on, what I like about my program, Jason answering the 932,634th question about a quad, etc., for each skater individually, They used to make the audio available, but not recently. I think it would be a good thing to bring back the audio.

I don't believe pressers should be immediately before the competition. My take is thet would unduly interrupt a skater's preparation. All skaters get "in the zone" before a comp in a different way, and I want every skater at their best, so I wouldn't do anything to interfere with that.

Post competition:
I don't think a post comp interview is "canned" because a skater says I tried my best, it did/did not go out how I practiced, I'm happy/ not happy, etc. Maybe, gasp, that's what the skater really thinks and I'm cool with that:biggrin: I always enjoy them, even if it's wish I had landed that 3A and I'm proud to be here with these guys.

Social media can bring the drama.;)
 

Mathman

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Jun 21, 2003
I don't know about the fully fledged press conferences, but someething needs to be done about the brief post-skate interviews. "How did it make you feel when you fell on your triple Lutz." "How do you think I feel, you stupid bleep."

The all-time prize goes to the interviews at half time in U.S. football coverage. The coaches have to) submit to exactly two questions on camera before thay are allowed to join the team in the locker room (it's in th league contract with the television networks).. Typically its like, "You're behind 30 to nothing. What do you need to do in the second half?" Answer: "We nned to execute better."
 

drivingmissdaisy

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Joined
Feb 17, 2010
The skaters pretty much say what you expect them to say after the competition, so from that perspective it can be predictable and boring. However, I still think you need those soundbites and quotes for publication so there's no getting around the press conferences after the event. It would sound weird to read "Karen Chen landed the 3A for the first time in competition and, although we didn't talk to her, we can assume she was thrilled."
 

ladyjane

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It may sound funny, but I hardly ever get bored when skaters reply "I should have landed it" or "I was thrilled when I landed the 3A and had to force myself to concentrate on the step sequence that came right after". That's what they experienced at that moment, and that's fine with me. But when I wish for more philosophically inspired exercises from these athletes, I'll read an interview with them in a magazine or in an article quite apart from the competitions.
 

TallyT

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Apr 23, 2018
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Australia
Ummm, who are you planning to have at these press conferences? You really can't have every skater and their translations, not if you want the audience to stay awake long enough to get to the actual, you know, skating (even the conferences for national teams before big conferences tend to focus on the stars, after all). And not only - as el henry said - do the skaters need some time to prep both mentally and physically, but they almost certainly will be very very politic in their replies, even more so than afterwards (no one wants to say something controversial/interesting before the judging... well, no one who isn't Plushy or maybe Rippon).

I do think part of the reason the 'official' post-skate conferences are so bland is not just because the questions are, but many of the skaters, like many athletes everywhere, are not by nature sparkling interviewees (those like Javi and Jason Brown are more of a gift) and it takes time and effort to develop a feeling for what is the right-as-well-as-entertaining thing to say.

The press are already perfectly capable of pushing for pre-competition statements and interviews with the skaters they want to talk to after all - remember the scrums at the Olympics? They followed Chen to the bathroom, and Yuzuru was ushered into Korea with a badass bodyguard team to protect him while talking to a press horde. Pre-competiton 'fluff' pieces are not exactly respected, I know, but I do think they could be the perfect place to showcase new and up-and-coming people.

PS - I would suggest that it be mandatory for the skaters to hand over their phones before any official or competition interview or conference. I have heard about some of them checking their messages while someone else is talking, and that's just rude.
 
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TallyT

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Apr 23, 2018
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Australia
I don't know about the fully fledged press conferences, but someething needs to be done about the brief post-skate interviews. "How did it make you feel when you fell on your triple Lutz." "How do you think I feel, you stupid bleep."

The all-time prize goes to the interviews at half time in U.S. football coverage. The coaches have to) submit to exactly two questions on camera before thay are allowed to join the team in the locker room (it's in th league contract with the television networks).. Typically its like, "You're behind 30 to nothing. What do you need to do in the second half?" Answer: "We nned to execute better."

My own favourite was a cricketer who got hit by a ball (not too seriously, but his nose looked like a tomato with stitches and attitude) who was asked "and where exactly did the ball hit you?"
 

anonymoose_au

Making sequined tie and vest combos cool
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The all-time prize goes to the interviews at half time in U.S. football coverage. The coaches have to) submit to exactly two questions on camera before thay are allowed to join the team in the locker room (it's in th league contract with the television networks).. Typically its like, "You're behind 30 to nothing. What do you need to do in the second half?" Answer: "We nned to execute better."
I think Australia truly wins this category, the number of times I've heard a journalist ask in all seriousness "You/Your team lost today, I guess that wasn't part of your plan?"

I'm still waiting for the day when one of the interviewees decides to troll them and be like "No that was totally the plan! I'm a bit annoyed we didn't lose by 20 points because that was actually the aim."

TBH I always forget they have big press conferences in figure skating, I knew that at Worlds and Euros they would interview the winners right at the end, but I'm always surprised with photos come out of the podium winners behind a big table taking questions.

Aside from the bru-ha-ha that occurred after the TV1 Cup recently has there actually being a really contraversial press conference?
 
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4everchan

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Mar 7, 2015
I don't work in media but I can tell you that public speaking is an art that requires training for most people, unless you are Naomi Osaka and you are just naturally gifted and just always have endearing quirky answers. I do not expect young figure skaters to be able to master their media appearances with the poise and wit that come from years and years of experience. Leaving the personal attributes aside, you can simply watch interviews of athletes when they were just starting out, and compare them to let's say, 10-15 years later. So I would say, that in many cases, age and lack of experience is a big factor. In figure skating, it's harder to do...10 years is a very long career to start with.
 

karne

in Emergency Backup Mode
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I think Australia truly wins this category, the number of times I've heard a journalist ask in all seriousness "You/Your team lost today, I guess that wasn't part of your plan?"

I'm still waiting for the day when one of the interviewees decides to troll them and be like "No that was totally the plan! I'm a bit annoyed we didn't lose by 20 points because that was actually the aim."
Some get a bit trolly. Mark Webber's memorable "it's kids isn't it, they do well for a while then they **** it all up" is a good one for "this is why you don't interview sportspeople mid-event, but especially not when something has only just gone critically wrong".

I wonder though, on that subject, if OP was thinking something like the way F1 does its press conferences? You have the "Thursday" press conferences, before practice starts, in two batches - a bunch of the team principals in one, and then a select group of drivers in the other, often chosen due to nationality (home race? yessir), recent controversy (crashed into each other last race? oh we'll totally put them both in there) or status in the championship (ho-hum lewis, another boring championship, please come to the press conference as frickin usual). Then after the race there's the podium press conference.

So I suppose you could have a "coaches" press conference, then a few skaters (maybe the top two or three + one randomly chosen?), on the "Thursday" equivalent. Not really sure it'd do much but turn into a politicking exercise though. I'd probably pull my hair out if I had to listen to Zakrasjek fawn and try to convince us that Zhou doesn't really underrotate, it's his "ballerina ankles" every couple of comps.
 

BlissfulSynergy

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Mars
I personally enjoy seeing press conferences, and getting an up close view of skaters, and seeing how they interact and express themselves. It can be revealing, and sometimes enlightening and lighthearted when someone makes a joke.

I wish pressers would be included again on livestreaming platforms for fans to enjoy the full experience of the behind-the-scenes goings-on at events. I also want to see medal ceremonies made available on the livestreaming platforms fans pay a lot of money for!!!

As far as having presser before events, I agree with @el henry's comments.
 

figureskatingandrainbows

A good knee bend soothes my soul
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Dec 8, 2020
Some press conferences are good. For example, the press conference for Japanese Nationals 2020 nearly made me cry.

Others are just awkward, especially with translation issues. (looking at you, 4CC short program translator)

It's a mixed bag, but it is nice to hear in-depth from the skaters, and I really like the trend where they ask the skaters what their thoughts are on the competitors.
 

Amei

Record Breaker
Joined
Nov 11, 2013
I don't care for press conferences, they are usually just landmines for controversy either through a statement made or translated badly, it appears more and more that the athletes aren't interested in them as you often see them (rudely) messing with their phones if they aren't being asked a question.
 

LastSacrifice

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
I am not in the press corps (I was for a sportswriter for three months 45 years ago, but that doesn't count. :) ), but this is my take,

Pre-competition:
USFS has pre-competition pressers before Nats. They do exactly what you say, what I'm working on, what I like about my program, Jason answering the 932,634th question about a quad, etc., for each skater individually, They used to make the audio available, but not recently. I think it would be a good thing to bring back the audio.

I don't believe pressers should be immediately before the competition. My take is thet would unduly interrupt a skater's preparation. All skaters get "in the zone" before a comp in a different way, and I want every skater at their best, so I wouldn't do anything to interfere with that.
I think a press conference before the first grand prix comp of the year, and then one before nationals later in the year would make sense. So it'll be more a media day than an actual press conference, I guess? I think it's really good if there's a newcomer at Nats or at GP and they have a chance to introduce themselves to fans that'll probably do them a lot of good. Press conferences right before an event will probably annoy some skaters, but the current format is running them after SP (which would probably tilt them more, because some are still thinking about closing their lead or keeping it) and if the associations are adamant about having one after short, just put it in front.


Post competition:
I don't think a post comp interview is "canned" because a skater says I tried my best, it did/did not go out how I practiced, I'm happy/ not happy, etc. Maybe, gasp, that's what the skater really thinks and I'm cool with that:biggrin: I always enjoy them, even if it's wish I had landed that 3A and I'm proud to be here with these guys.

Social media can bring the drama.;)

I don't have a problem with the skaters themselves saying something like "Oh I landed it/fell and could have done better" but rather with the reporters asking questions; because the skaters don't really have a choice when they are answering these kind of questions. They are probably bored out of their mind answering 3 or 4 "You fell on your jump, mind explaining that?" questions in a row. I think what is a better format is if interviewers could just grab their favorite skater (say ESPN grabs Selevko because they think he's funny, I don't know); and then proceed to ask him about how he's affected by performing in front of a cardboard audience; that's a much better format.
 

LastSacrifice

Rinkside
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
Others are just awkward, especially with translation issues. (looking at you, 4CC short program translator)

Do you know who usually provides translators at press conferences? In sports, in general, media who does provide their own translation usually have really professional translators who have good knowledge of the sport. If currently ISU provides all the translators then I can see how that could be a problem.
 

figureskatingandrainbows

A good knee bend soothes my soul
Final Flight
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Dec 8, 2020
Do you know who usually provides translators at press conferences? In sports, in general, media who does provide their own translation usually have really professional translators who have good knowledge of the sport. If currently ISU provides all the translators then I can see how that could be a problem.
I'm assuming the local federation supplies the translators??? Typically the translators are very good for the major international events. This was just one instance. For the smaller competitions, though, this is a problem sometimes.
 
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