I received considerable backlash for my latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana on Marshawn Lynch when it posted yesterday. Getting ready for round 2 today.
Sports journalists unite: It’s time to boycott Skittles.
Don’t let your kids eat them anymore. Forget about handing out those small packets for Halloween.
Skittles should be considered poison to any sports journalist who asks for respect in dealing with athletes.
You see, Marshawn Lynch’s stance with the media has evolved from more than just not wanting to talk. It now is a marketing vehicle.
Skittles, which is part of Lynch’s weird act, helped the Seattle running back’s campaign to mock the media this week. It got Lynch to do a fake press conference. He munches handfuls of the candy sitting in front of a Skittles logo.
The whole thing is extremely lame. He opens by saying, “I’m thankful for the opportunity to have Skittles ask me questions today.”
Of course, he is. Skittles probably paid him big money for the charade, likely much more than those annoying reporters who insist on asking him real questions.
Lynch then continued his shameless act at Super Bowl media day Tuesday. He stayed for less than five minutes and repeatedly said, “”I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” Naturally, he downed a few Skittles for the cameras. For the exposure, the candy probably will pay for the hefty NFL fines that are sure to come his way.
Lynch’s media stance now has become a big story. However, at its core is one basic element: Respect.
The least you can ask for in this life is to be shown some respect from the people you interact with every day. And that includes athletes dealing with the media.
I would say the vast majority of athletes and coaches, perhaps in the neighborhood of 95-97 percent, do treat reporters with respect. There’s even an element of respect with how Bill Belichick deals with the press, even if it looks as if he would rather be getting a tooth pulled.
During media day yesterday, the New England coach talked of his media responsibilities:
“That’s our role – to be the conduit between our team and all the fans – all of you that cover the team and the fans that read or watch or listen. That’s an important part of the process,” Belichick said. “Having been on the other side of this (as an avid fan as a kid), that’s what I wanted. I wanted information. I wanted to hear what’s going on. We provide the fans who are so interested in our team with information that makes it interesting and exciting for them. That’s why we’re all here.”
OK, it would be better if Belichick was more open and quotable, but at least he understands the process. It would be interesting to see how Belichick would have put up with Lynch’s media act if he played on the Patriots. My guess is, probably not.
Belichick and the NFL know there is a larger issue at play here. What’s to stop other players from following Lynch’s lead and opting not to talk? Surely, there are many players who would like to be spared from participating in the media circus at the Super Bowl this week.
The NFL, though, wants fans to get know the players. The mass interviews only feed the hype for the big game. That translates to big ratings, which translates to big money for the league and its players.
That’s why the NFL enacted a rule that players must talk to the media. WritesMarcus Hayes in the Philadelphia Daily News:
“Lynch’s boycott of the press is no different from boycotting a meeting, a practice or a game. What if he mailed it in at the Super Bowl the way he mailed it in on Media Day? He is contractually obligated to be present at both, to perform professionally at each. It is part of his job, part of his duty.
“Duty should not be served. It is part of being a professional. It’s part of being an adult. Marshawn Lynch is neither.”
Lynch’s fans don’t care if he doesn’t talk as long as he keeps producing on the field. He also has plenty of supporters who laud him for being his own man. It was revolting to hear a former player like Tedy Bruschi saluted his independence on ESPN on Tuesday.
Fortunately, there are other former players turned analysts who see the big picture. NBC’s Rodney Harrison does not appreciate Lynch’s act.
“A lot of young African-American kids look up to him and people applaud it. It’s not right,” Harrison said.
Somebody should get that message to Lynch, not that he cares. In a few years, he will be out of the league, counting his money and eating his Skittles.
However, sports journalists, and people who value some sense of decency, can make their voices heard by boycotting Lynch’s sponsor, Skittles. Hold the candy accountable for assisting Lynch in mocking the media with the phony press conference.
Frankly, Skittles aren’t that good anyway. Bad texture and way too sweet. Also, while there aren’t any documented studies, eating Skittles reportedly makes your ledes much duller.
Try Swedish Fish instead.