David Foster Wallace, Derrick Rose, and PR

Athlete interviews are an essential part of any sport organization’s public relations functions. One of the constant challenges facing PR professionals is training athletes to be engaging while staying on-message. It often seems that athletes are either too over-the-top or just downright dull in their responses. Take, for example, this snoozer from Derrick Rose:


Moving beyond cliches, however, is easier said than done. In his critique of former child tennis prodigy Tracy Austin’s autobiography, author David Foster Wallace offers his thoughts on the deeper reasons for why our athletes often give fans little satisfaction in their post-game analyses:

“It may well be that we spectators, who are not divinely gifted as athletes, are the only ones able truly to see, articulate, and animate the experience of the gift we are denied. And that those who receive and act out the gift of athletic genius must, perforce, be blind and dumb about it—and not because blindness and dumbness are the price of the gift, but because they are its essence.” – from “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart”

If Wallace is even partially right, does it mean we are sentenced to an eternity of “blind and dumb” post-game interviews? Or, does his assessment have implications for shifting the way we approach our PR training?

Categories: Media, PR

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