I don’t follow the sport of tennis (apart from occasionally watching Wimbledon). I am however aware of the recent events that led to Naomi Osaka to quit the French Open. Osaka wished to protect her mental health from difficult, awkward questions, and focus on her game. The organisers of the tournament took a different view, fining the Japanese ace when she didn’t fulfil her media obligations. They also threatened to expel her from the Open and the prospect of being banned from future tournaments was also raised.
When you think about it, demanding media time in the immediate aftermath of a physically exhausting and emotionally draining sporting contest isn’t right. You’re raw and vulnerable, whether you’ve won or lost. At that moment, the world’s press suddenly wants to expose your soul, and somehow, that’s been rendered normal.
It’s easy to forget that sportsmen and women are human beings, subject to the same frailties as the rest of us. If press conferences were meaningful, instead of predatory, and if the players had a bit of time to cool down, they might be seen as a valid exercise, but they shifted away from being meaningful a long time ago.
A lot of media activities now appear to be spiteful, angry exchanges, because to the media that’s entertaining. This is what has allowed the temper-tantrum-throwing Piers Morgan to remain in the public eye – his vitriolic attitude (not least of all towards women and women of colour no less) sells stories and gets attention – attention that Morgan himself desperately craves.
Morgan has absolutely zero idea of Osaka’s mental health situation. Nor is it without irony that the organisers of the French Open have virtually admitted that draining press conferences hamper athlete performance. Sadly aggressive misogyny knows no bounds, especially when partnered with latent racism. Maybe we should collectively place Morgan and his angry rants on block. Starve him of the attention he desires.