Lewis Hamilton says he knows from experience young people who come into professional sport like Naomi Osaka need help to cope with its pressures.
Hamilton, who has already publicly supported Osaka on social media, said today he understands the pressures she has faced as a young competitor in professional sport.
“I think she’s an incredible athlete and human being,” he said. “Her activism has been just so impactful and at such a young age there’s so much weight on her shoulders.
“It’s inevitable, the fact is, when you’re young you’re thrown into the limelight and the spotlight and it weighs heavily on you and probably most of us are not prepared.
“I remember when I got into F1 the team had PR [public relations], I was never prepared for being in front of a camera, I was never guided as to what to look out for and helped to navigate through that. So you just learn through the mistakes and it’s incredibly nerve-wracking especially when you have all good intentions but people take advantage of it.”
Hamilton has had difficult encounters with the media in the past. In 2016 he refused to take questions from journalists at a press conference in Japan. Now in his 15th season of Formula 1 he admitted he still finds media engagements challenging.
“I’ve learned the hard way and made many mistakes and I still do today,” he said. “It can be daunting, still, standing behind a camera.
“It’s not the easiest. Particularly if you’re an introvert and you do struggle to be under those sorts of pressures. Some people are less comfortable than others. I’ve learned over my time here, and I’m trying to continue to learn how [to] engage.
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“But as I said when I was young I was thrown into the pit and I wasn’t given any guidance or support. What I do know is when youngsters are coming in they’re facing the same thing as I did. And I don’t necessarily know if that’s the best for them.
“I think we need to be supporting more. It shouldn’t be a case where you’re pressured. There are scenarios where, for example Naomi’s scenario, she didn’t feel comfortable for her own personal health not to do something and the backlash is ridiculous. People are not taking into account that she’s a human being and she’s saying that [she’s] not well enough to do this right now. I think that need to be really looked into and how people react to that and rather be supportive and uplifting to her.”
Before the tournament began, Osaka declared she would not take part in any press conferences around the event. The organisers fined her $15,000 and threatened her with expulsion from the event if she refused to speak to the media, prompting her decision to pull out.
“I think she’s incredibly brave,” said Hamilton, “and I applaud her for her bravery because it’s now asking those in power, putting them in question and making them have to think about how they react.”
He criticised the event promoters for fining Osaka. “The way they reacted was not good, with the fine. Someone talking about their personal mental health and then being fined for it, that wasn’t cool.
“They could have definitely handled it better. I hope they take a deep dive into it and find a better way to navigate in future. As athletes we are pushing ourselves to the limit, we are on the edge, and we’re only human beings.”
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98 comments on “Hamilton: I was “thrown into the pit” in F1 like Osaka, she deserves support”
Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
3rd June 2021, 13:54
Lewis will be slammed now for speaking out on his but his words are admirable.
She didn’t want to do the press conferences because it was damaging her health. She shouldn’t be forced to do it, counselled to help her cope perhaps, but not forced. She’s out of a tournament now and the sport suffers as a result of that decision.
If it were a physical condition there would be no such mean words from people. When Schumacher broke his leg in 1999 he wasn’t derided for not driving the next race. If Grosjean had decided to not race again after his accident, I doubt anyone would have thought him weak or suffered nasty comments as a result.
I wish Osaka well and hope she feels stronger soon. It’s a shame she is no longer part of a tournament because attending repetitive press conferences was prioritised over her health.
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 14:32
3rd June 2021, 16:46
I agree, call me a conspiracy theorist but there is a double standard going on
when it was a English cricketer taking time out from the game for depression the media respected him and was curious but when Naomi Osaka who is very shy , sufferers from severe anxiety and depression she’s fined for not going to press conference and ridiculed being told to shut up because shes an highly paid sports star.
3rd June 2021, 20:04
3rd June 2021, 20:44
I am very happy that Lewis Hamilton has seized that opportunity to speak out for Naomi Osaka. If anything, she has been a bit too respectful and low-profile, while she would have the right to feel aggrieved by the way the situation has been handled.
I remember how cramped Lewis seemed when he was talking to the press in his first Formula 1 years. He looked like he was facing a bunch of sharks who were there to get him. He was treading very careful, avoiding above all to say anything wrong.
It has been some years until he felt confident enough to speak his mind. What he said may not always have been of my liking, but at least it was the true himself. Now he has matured, and more often than not his communication has been a positive force in the world. I hope his message reaches to Naomi Osaka because I feel for her. Some people don’t realize how hard it is to speak when you are a true introvert, and the world is your audience.
4th June 2021, 9:01
Indeed, such entitlement again. Nobody forces you to perform a paid version of your favorite sport that encompasses some duties, hence where the money comes from..
4th June 2021, 9:29
Do you have any appreciation of mental health issues? Do you know anyone who has had problems with anxiety or depression? Do you understand the impact these issues have on individuals, their performance and the people around them and how challenging it is to manage and would you be prepared them to invest the time to understand?
Or would you rather sit behind your phone slinging mud at something and someone you have no understanding? In a position of ignorance devoid of empathy, throwing out the familiar ‘trope of ignorance’ ‘their choice, they’re paid for it’….*smh*.
5th June 2021, 8:41
Do you have any appreciation of mental health issues? Yes
Do you know anyone who has had problems with anxiety or depression? Yes
Do you understand the impact these issues have on individuals, their performance and the people around them and how challenging it is to manage ? I surely do from experience
and would you be prepared them to invest the time to understand? I did for many years
So, yes I very well understand the impact of mental issues. I do not wish them to anyone. In fact she should prioritise above anything else, so do not understand why she is there at all. But if you want to perform a paid version of your sport, these are the duties belonging to it. Something there you cant do or dont like? Feel free to perform your sport anywhere in the world where you can. Where there’s a track and some cars. Where there is a tennis court and some tennis balls. Nobody is stopping you. Just do it. I mean, we all get the concept that in order to award prize money, it needs to be earned by an organisation first, by sponsoring and press. So I guess the real problem we should be addressing is how we enable people with mental challenges to show their skill level if they can not play on the big in the spotlight venues. So money is the real problem here. Somewhat similar to how do we enable more talent to rise to F1 without the need to spend 100k pound annually? Basically we’re watching just a tiny part of the worlds talent pool, the ones that are good within the niche ‘rich people’
4th June 2021, 13:42
Well, to be honest, given how scripted all of Hamilton’s press contacts were especially for the start of his career at McLaren under Ron Dennis (being more free to do his own stuff etc was one of the reasons he later gave for going to Mercedes) @geekzilla9000, If find it somewhat baffling to hear Lewis say anything about nobody preparing him.
That the preperations maybe weren’t enough to make it easy once the fight with Alonso vs the team+Hamilton got going is clear. And yeah, being black has certainly made it harder on Lewis with the media in quite a few occastions.
And that it went wrong for Lewis when he later in his career, after a few years of experience (with media as well, no doubt), had far more freedom to say and do what he wanted, well, that was hardly to do with being unprepared from not knowing what to expect.
That he speaks up for Osaka is good, I hope the support helps her get to grips with everything and enjoy her Tennis. She is clearly having problems to deal with and I can only hope that she gets on top of all that.
5th June 2021, 8:49
Hamilton is no stranger to put in a bit of self pity. Makes your results look even bigger
4th June 2021, 14:08
Well said Dan.
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 14:05
The crux is the ‘compulsory’ nature of responding to the press in general. It’s like the media (journalists) are like the new Spanish Inquisition and everyone in the world, whatever they do, has some kind of moral imperative to answer to the press. That pressure is used and heavily abused by media outlets around the world as emotional voyeurism (for cash). It’s now compounded by a social media and instant celebrity world in which people, everyone, is expected to want to become a public figure – and there is something weird or wrong about you as an individual if you want to keep quiet, just do you thing, like being an outstanding tennis player. Many people enter sport, and some of them become outstanding talents, precisely because they want to invest their energy and intelligence in an area where they don’t have to express themselves verbally. So just let them do that. We all – fans, journalists, sponsors – need to scale back our expectations of what we feel entitled to hear about, to demand, from participants.
3rd June 2021, 14:10
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 14:16
And just to anticipate one objection I saw here in the comments yesterday, the fact that ‘sponsors’ expect these media engagements as part of an athlete’s contaract: those sponsorships need to be scrutinized for abusive practices too and also placed in a bigger context. The big tech corporations (especially IT, media and social media platforms, but all big industries effectively) now do everything to persuade us that we need to ‘perform’ for small amounts of cash in their media-publicity circus, enticed by the idea that some ‘lucky’ people earning millions on YouTube or Instagram as ‘influencers’, while the companies themselves avoid any accountability – like a Microsoft ‘subsidiary’ making £220bn last year and paying no tax. The same applies to the other companies – the bigger they are, the more likely they are, in fact, to avoid any public accountability or social responsibility.
Dan Rooke (@geekzilla9000)
3rd June 2021, 14:38
@david-br both of your comments here are bang on. If you were local I’d buy you a pint. You’ve summarised a lot of what I was thinking, but better! People are not bar-coded corporate assets.
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 14:55
Cheers @geekzilla9000, I’ll drink an IPA with that in mind later!
3rd June 2021, 14:31
If all these athletes wish to do is play their sport, they can do that without any media attention at their local amateur club.
By choosing enter the world of elite professional sport, they are willingly entering a media-based and totally media-reliant industry.
Of course it’s tough being in the spotlight, but they can ultimately choose to step out of it any time they wish.
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 14:37
It’s a simple suggestion: allow people to opt out if they wish. I tried explaining why this ‘compulsory participation’ should be viewed with suspicion: it’s part of a global media ethos that actually conceals real wealth and power, while forcing all of us to ‘participate’ as simultaneously consumers/consumed products.
3rd June 2021, 14:45
It’s business, mate. Professional sponsored sport is profit-driven business, exactly the same as any other industry.
Don’t like it? Protest against capitalism.
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 14:54
That’s what I am doing. And we should all be doing. I visited the first ‘capitalist’ factory recently, Cromford Mill in Derbyshire, England, and from the outset workers were expected to do 12-hour shifts, the mills running 24 hours a day, young girls used to fetch items from under the running equipment, despite the risk to life, because they were small enough to fit, and the whole place kept damp so the cotton wouldn’t spoil, despite the huge increase in TB and other health conditions. Capitalism was born nasty, inspired by work practices on the slave plantations, and it’s up to us to push back on its worst aspects, or else we collude with them.
What you also seem to forget is that most top athletes enter professional sport through various forms of sponsorship from well before they become adults and can make a properly formed decision about their lives and how to live them. That applied to Hamilton and, I’m sure, tennis stars like Osaka too.
3rd June 2021, 15:00
Do you really think the way media is handled in sport, and in many other instances, is healthy?
We have learnt to adapt our practices as humans according to when things don’t add up.
If your view was applied in the 70’s, F1 would never have gotten safe.
“but they can ultimately choose to step out of it any time they wish.”
Lots of driver were told this, even Jackie Stewart, who I am not really a fan of, but drove a lot of the safety measure we see in F1 today. It was weak of those who told him, ‘if the fires to hot, then get out of the kitchen’
Its useless views like this that stifle progression in our world.
When something isn’t right, and more so obviously toxic, lets fix it, lets do better, not just say, ‘tough luck buddy’
Apply that logic to nearly anything in this world and we would still be in the stone ages, and in many cases where money rules, we still are.
3rd June 2021, 15:04
I personally believe sponsors, the people who actually pay the athletes, will be very open to adjustments being made, especially if it results in the athletes involved are at the top of their game mentally and physically.
It also stands to be better for the fans, as we get to see athletes perform at their best without distractions.
AS WELL…. We won’t need to put up with lame tabloid news week in and week out.
Make the journos earn their payday with some actual substance.
3rd June 2021, 15:21
Capitalism as a concept started thousands of years before industrialisation. But that’s not important.
I don’t forget at all that most sportspeople rise to professional level via sponsorship. Before they accept their first sponsorship deal, they have usually entered the media circus. Many are in newspapers and on TV while still under 10, and certainly under 15 if they are that good. Old enough to understand what they enjoy and don’t enjoy. And then they start getting more and more reward for that exposure and public performance.
By the time they hit the world stage, they are well aware of expressing themselves and deciding whether the positives outweigh the negatives, or vice-versa.
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 15:48
S – So exploitative practices don’t exist, even kids know what they’re getting into? Leaving that bizarre view aside, you’d rather see a superbly talented sportsperson drop out of an event or even leave the sport because they don’t want to engage in press conferences than accept that they have a right to not place themselves under emotional stress, threatening their own mental health, by participating? I struggle to see that as a serious argument.
3rd June 2021, 16:28
I have no doubt that many are exploited. Nothing much I can do about that, sadly.
De-monetising sport (and the world as a whole) might solve that problem. Maybe you’re onto something…
Would I rather see a talented sportsperson quit than engage the media?
Not my call to make. That person needs to make their own choice.
If life in public is stressful or hazardous for them, then they aren’t doing what’s best for themselves, are they?
Professional sport is certainly very public and, by its basic nature, will always be.
Amateur or private sport is always an option…
3rd June 2021, 17:35
Do you realize what a mockery you make of your own arguments when you contrast that with Osaka’s plight of having to do a 15 minute presser, while earning tens of millions a year?
But Osaka (and Hamilton) don’t run huge risks of death. Osaka runs a much bigger chance of being killed while traveling to the stadium than in it. No one was even arguing against improving the press conferences or banning specific abusive journalists, so your argument is a straw man anyway.
It’s just ridiculous how so many people can’t accept that progress has actually be made and have to pretend that we are living in a hellish world where a 15 minute press conference is torture.
I’ve experienced things that are way, way worse than what these privileged multimillionaires have to deal with, just like many other people experience way worse things (but most of these people are not multimillionaire celebrities that modern ‘progressives’ only seem to care about).
The irony is that the people who actually fought for workers right in the past would be absolutely disgusted by how the most privileged get treated as victims. George Orwell had a huge dislike of the kind of socialists who didn’t love the poor, but who hated the rich (and who typically favored the slightly less rich, while doing nothing significant for the poor). Unfortunately, the latter group seems to now have won out.
Where can people sign up to be exploited by getting tens of millions a year, but having to do a 15 minute presser on some days? I’m sure that many people would gladly take that deal. Not in the least in China where much of our stuff is made by people working long hours for slightly less than tens of millions a year.
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 17:44
@aapje I’m not comparing or contrasting semi-slave conditions with Osaka’s situation, you parachuted into a conversation. But I’m sure you know that very well and presume, therefore, that it’s just seemed an easy strategy on your part to dismiss everything else I said. You know when you get those urges to use easy strategies? Maybe try and resist them. It will make you come across as more (intellectually) honest.
3rd June 2021, 19:47
You are now just being disingenuous. S argued that you can only object in the way you do, if you reject the entire concept of having to do things on the terms of other people, if you want to be paid by them (aka capitalism). In the context of this discussion, that means that you claim that Osaka is a victim of capitalism (a 37 million dollar a year victim), which you justify by bringing up historic abuses. This is an implicit claim that Osaka is in some way the victim of capitalist abuses that are sufficiently similar to the example you give, for it to be relevant in this conversation.
If Osaka’s situation is in no way comparable to your example, then you are going against your own argument that there is a common injustice in capitalism that is evident both in your example and in Osaka’s situation.
My criticism is that you cannot just claim that there is an injustice or even just disadvantage (which is often confused for an injustice), which cannot be accepted, without weighing them against the alternatives and advantages. Money represents the ability to make others sacrifice their desires for person who gives them money, which on the whole is a mutually beneficial arrangement, due the huge benefits of specialization and the differences between people in the extent to which they consider something a sacrifice. It turns out that productivity of specialists is way, way higher than the productivity of generalists (especially if you add in machinery). And if you dislike making beer more than you dislike making bread, while the opposite is true for me, then we are both happier if you make bread for me and I make beer for you. Capitalism is merely the way in which we make each side keep up the end of this deal, rather than me taking your bread and refusing to give you beer.
Last year, Osaka got 37 million dollar worth of ability to coerce others into doing what she wants, while I don’t rate her sacrifices to earn that money anywhere near to what the average level of sacrifice is to earn that amount of money. That is why she is privileged within the capitalist model. She profits way more from capitalism than average.
If you were actually a socialist, rather than this weird kind of modern leftist that seeks to help the most privileged, you’d argue that we need to take away and redistribute some of that excessive income…
PS 1. We no longer have the kind of capitalism that existed during the industrial revolution, so the injustices that existed at that time cannot be used to argue against modern capitalism, unless you can argue that social-democracy didn’t address those issues in a substantial way, which they certainly did for your example, in the west.
PS 2. Modern judgments of the past are often hopelessly colored by modern privilege, where it is ignored that societies of the past simply didn’t have the technology or wealth to afford themselves the privileges that we now enjoy. I don’t think that you have the ability to evaluate Cromford Mill or the industrial revolution in general properly (like almost everyone, so I’m not saying that you are exceptional in this).
4th June 2021, 7:27
@aapje Well, I hear the internet is a good place for exploitation…
Honestly, if we could all make the choice to work like crazy for a few years with decent security, suffer through some 15 minute press conferences and then pocket $Millions to gain generous financial security and luxury, I’m sure many of us would do that – at least until the negatives outweighed the positives, at which point we’d reconsider and perhaps stop.
It would be quite stupid to continue to subject oneself to something they dislike and something which harms their health beyond the point that it stops being rewarding and positive overall.
Though, as you say, working just as long and hard (or longer and harder) in terrible and unsafe conditions for a pittance and little or no security is a life that so many in the world are forced to endure. And without the social benefits of professional sport, or the healthcare and support either.
4th June 2021, 8:12
@aapje and S. The weird modern ‘left’ that only grieves when the hyper rich complain that their life is so horrible. That’s a superb crystallisation of the culture wars, both your arguments make logical sense in our world.
Social media has created an arena where uncommon bedfellows get to test their opinions against those they might in the past never have met. It also gives those with a victim mentality, however justified, the chance to complain to a much wider audience.
4th June 2021, 11:51
Indeed. In 2022, the football/soccer world cup will be played in stadiums build by migrant workers, many of whom are lured with the promise of earning relatively high salaries for a while, allowing them to secure their future. These people are often lied to how much they get paid and the living and working conditions. Both tend to be quite poor and these workers are denied the power to fight for their rights, by a system where their employer can get them deported at any time. Of course, F1 races in a stadium in Dubai build by those same people.
If this ‘activism’ that seems to just be for Osaka is successful, a multimillionaire will have a slightly better life (although it seems likely that she will still suffer from anxiety and depression). Yet even a minor improvement in the lives of each of the millions of migrant workers in the middle east will result in a huge overall increase in well-being.
Reagan used to have ‘trickle-down economics,’ where the claim was that if you help the rich, this will benefit everyone because the rich will then hire people, etc. Nowadays, there seems to be ‘trickle-down activism’ on the left, where helping millionaires is somehow going to improve everyone’s lives.
David BR (@david-br)
4th June 2021, 12:48
@aapje In this case, the ‘activism’ is basic human empathy for someone with mental health issues, irrespective of wealth. Yes, as a ‘leftist’, I also agree with redistributive taxation, and higher corporate tax with a crackdown on tax havens. Anything else you need to know, I’m here.
4th June 2021, 13:02
Basic human empathy is wanting her to have access to medical help and to not get hurt. With her millions, she has access to be best medical help. It also was completely in her own power to withdraw from the tournament, as she finally did, so she could resolve the issue herself, but simply refused to.
Excessive human empathy is demanding that some people can just skirt their duties, based on nothing more than their claims. Are you going to stop posting if someone claims that your comments harm their mental health? A world where people who claim to have mental health issues can make their own rules is not going to be a just society.
3rd June 2021, 17:13
Osaka can opt out by not competing in these events and ultimately she did. What she can’t do is selectively opt out of the things she dislikes, while doing the things she wants to do. That’s true for any job.
4th June 2021, 11:32
Thanks for taking a small part of what I said without considering full context. Really keeps a discussion going.
By the way, I wasn’t replying to you, was replying to S, who is very much of the option that if the athletes don’t like it, then they should just leave.
So maybe read who I was replying to before you tell me that nobody was arguing that.
4th June 2021, 11:45
You also literally say that any athlete can opt out if they don’t like it. Which is the exact opposite to suggesting that they make improvements.
See the hypocrisy right?
So yes, people, and you, are arguing against making improvements to press conferences if you think they should opt out of competing instead of the press conferences being improved.
Take my words out of context again and I’m not going to entertain you with a response, but hopefully you can see what I mean this time.
3rd June 2021, 14:32
Absolutely spot on David!
3rd June 2021, 20:06
3rd June 2021, 14:06
How true the words may be, fact is that nothing is changed overnight, and with the next tournament, pressure will unfortunately only be higher still on Osaka as every single press mosquito will on to her, at every single opportunity.
Allowing athletes to decline and fining the press/journalist that ignores that decision, might possibly be a a way to change this?
3rd June 2021, 14:42
The practical problem with allowing them to decline their contracted media obligations is that, obviously, most of them would choose to do that and there would be hardly any media at all. There are obvious complications when a major event creates unusually or unnaturally little media coverage to supply to the consumer.
All we’d ever get is pre-prepared corporate statements released hours or days later, completely devoid of truth, emotion or humanity. Same as politics. Is that what you want from your sport?
This site is a prime example. What does everyone want and expect from this site? Media from the people within their sport… Human emotion, unscripted words and actions… Perhaps even brutal honesty.
And how connected would you feel to your sport if that no longer existed?
3rd June 2021, 15:13
1 – Everyone declining is just an assumption, and if indeed everyone declines, that should make you think.
2 – There’s hardly or no difference as to what we get now, with is pre-written PR stuff anyway.
3 – Have you read the Coulthard story on this site? Does not fit your description, sorry.
Read @david-br‘s comment, especially the last sentence. I completely agree with that.
I hate it when people use ‘practical problems’ as an implicit reason to not do anything at all, and/or as an excuse to not have to think about issues – or solutions suggested. Apparently you just disagree with there being an issue in the first place, if so, just say that please.
3rd June 2021, 15:54
Do I disagree with there being an issue in the first place? I don’t know. Yes and no, I guess. It’s not really that simple, is it. Nothing ever is completely black or white.
I think if someone wishes to participate in global, high-profile, sponsored, professional sport, they can safely assume they are subjecting themselves to the world’s media. They go together, inseparably, for good and bad.
I made the link above with F1 – would F1 be F1 without such in-depth media connections? Of course it wouldn’t. Would Lewis Hamilton and Naomi Osaka have the social power to fight racism without the media connections their sport provided them? Nope. With that power comes responsibility.
This whole saga shows that ‘they’ (insert anyone, it doesn’t matter) want the positives from the media, but seemingly aren’t willing to accept the associated negatives that come along with that.
But that’s human nature. We all want positives without negatives.
But that isn’t practical ;)
4th June 2021, 2:21
‘Practical problems’, ‘it’s complicated’, ‘it’s not that black or white’. Those are all the same to me; a lame excuse not to have to think about things, not decide on whether there’s something that should be fixed and if so, try to find the effective fix for.
‘I think if someone wishes to participate in ..’ That’s ridiculous. As if someone just simply decides, at the age of 8, 12 or 16, with all of the implications known beforehand, “Hey, I’m going to be an F1 driver, or a grandslam tennis contester”. It’s clear you have absolutely no idea of the whole process, or simpler, what you’re talking about.
F1 was F1 already, and tennis tennis, long before your so-called ‘in-depth media connections’. Your choice of words alone here, makes me laugh, if not sick. It’s been a long time coming, to the point where we are now, and it just might be that for some, we’ve gone too far. Who was talking about black and white again?
‘With power comes responsability.’ And that holds good for athletes only? Or is this applicable to the sports governing bodies too, as well as the sponsors, the press, and even the public, for that matter. Your reference to responsability here may sound nice, but is actually -again- just a way to deviate/deflect responsability from yourself.
‘This whole saga …’ You’re too quick to make an assumption again here, in that this would apply to everyone. That’s a very negative image you hold there, and in your own black and white simplicity, you omit the fact that there’s many, many in-between solutions possible.
But it starts with acknowledging the problem, which you apparently still don’t. That’s OK, but don’t try to defend an opinion when you make no effort to form one, please.
4th June 2021, 3:28
From this post, you’ve actually said nothing at all yourself – only minimised my opinion.
I never professed to have the answer that is right for everyone – only that if it isn’t right for Miss Osaka (and it clearly isn’t, in her own words) then she probably shouldn’t continue to choose to stay in such a public environment in an industry totally reliant on media relations.
She has the power to choose what is right for her. Nobody else.
Tennis was indeed tennis long before she entered the professional ranks herself – and I’ll bet she saw it on TV and in the media. How do you suppose it got there?
And tennis is still tennis in non-professional, unsponsored local club events – if tennis is all she wants, without all the money and social power and responsibility that comes with being professional, then she has an easy choice to make. It’s not like she needs the money anymore, is it?
If you or I want to be ‘the best’ and receive the most reward from our respective industries, I’m sure you would agree that sometimes we need to do things we don’t really want to do and push ourselves into uncomfortable and challenging situations. It may even be harmful to our health – but it is, nevertheless, a choice we are free to make.
3rd June 2021, 17:53
1. It seems pretty obvious by the behavior of athletes at press conferences that many of them would not do these pressers. It makes perfect sense from an athletes’ perspective, where they try to maximize their performance, as well as their income, to cut out everything that doesn’t directly contribute to their performance or their income. Yet if athletes get to do that, it will have a big impact on the tournaments and such.
I would personally prefer if athletes would themselves routinely decide to be more transparent and pro-active, which tends to be more pleasant for everyone involved. Ultimately, the fact that many athletes are unwilling to do so also plays a huge role in why these kinds of events get planned for them and are made mandatory.
2. That just nonsense. You can see on this site that there are plenty of things that athletes say to the media that their employer is not thrilled about.
3. How does Coulthard’s interview support your point. He’s not competed for a long time now. We are talking about media engagement by contemporary athletes, not those of the past. Interviews like those with Coulthard are great for long term fans and such, but you can’t build a fan base around athletes that stopped competing a long time ago.
4th June 2021, 2:43
1. That’s still an assumption. You’re creating problems before they occur. Schumacher was extremely private, which bothered noone. Lando is very open, which is fine. Why can’t we accept -and allow- that not everyone is the same?
2. That’s not just nonsense. There’s interviews again and again where you can hear the prefab PR ‘brown goo’.
3. is the response to: “This site is a prime example. What does everyone want and expect from this site? Media from the people within their sport… Human emotion, unscripted words and actions… Perhaps even brutal honesty.
And how connected would you feel to your sport if that no longer existed?”
To elaborate: The ‘everyone’ is an assumption again, I know I don’t fully qualify, for one. The Coulthard interview did not come across as ‘scripted’, seemed pretty honest to me and made me feel ‘connected’. And it was just an example of decent journalism without making the interviewed person drive headlong into a bridge’s pillar. And maybe this is not just about contemporary athletes at all? Those are your words. I don’t interpret it as such. It’s about the pressure some feel when having -being obligated- to ‘talk’ to the press, to the point where their performance suffers from it, or where they get mentally or even physically unwell. To me, that’s a valid reason to investigate and see if there’s some sort of acceptable solution – to all parties involved. Gees, how hard can it be? But if your sport is just being rigid and say no, then you’re very good at it. Not my sport though.
4th June 2021, 7:46
1- Both Michael Schumacher and Lando Norris participate/d in both official F1 media commitments and non-official/sponsor commitments knowing full well that they were in their contracts. They accepted it as part of their jobs and indeed their lives, even if they didn’t like it.
2- Media is always a mix of truth, emotion and pre-prepared safety statements in varying quantities. Such press conferences occur immediately following an event because the athletes are still high on adrenaline and are most likely to give the most honest answers. They still have the choice to respond or not – and nobody is forcing words into their mouths unless they already agreed to say them.
3- I don’t even know what you are responding to. What about the Coulthard story doesn’t line up with my opinion? Does it have to? Of course David Coulthard’s opinion is going to differ to mine, we are different people with different experiences and values. But our opinions are equally valid, as they are for every other person.
You seem to think there is a solution that will will for all parties. So, what do you suggest?
So far, all you’ve done is trash other’s opinions that the system in place works reasonably well for the masses of other people who’ve done it before.
And yes, practicalities matter, unless you live in a fantasy world devoid of any ties to reality.
4th June 2021, 12:01
1. The athletes are not forced to divulge their private lives, but only to be present at the news conferences. So you argue against a rule that doesn’t exist.
2. You claimed that all of these events result in PR talk, not that most of them do. So you were wrong and I am right. If you cannot distinguish between many and all, you might want to read a dictionary.
3. Just like S, I don’t understand what you are actually disagreeing with.
3rd June 2021, 14:08
To be fair Hamilton has been in the media from a much earlier age. Well before he got into F1 he was on tv for his karting skills, giving interviews back then with a polish which belies his age and experiance. His early F1 PR team would have seen this, to trust him in that sitution.
Not everyone has this background and so you have to feel for Osaka, where cultural differences and expectation may have also played its part.
Ole Brummer (@andrewwj)
3rd June 2021, 14:51
Hear, hear! This I can get behind!
3rd June 2021, 14:55
I have absolutely no sympathy for pro athletes complaining about the fact that their job has exhausting demands of the mind and extremely high levels of stress. Spoiler alert: that’s the prize for having a job that literal billions would want to have (and be it solely for the money). You don’t get to have privilege without responsibility and a world that considers privilege without responsibility desirable is a world I will oppose at any junction. As Sebastian Deisler (and he’s just the most prominent name that comes to mind, there are others) demonstrated, you can always choose to walk away and live a life without the immense pressure. There’s nothing wrong with that, I wish Deisler and others who choose to abandon the life of the pro athlete for their mental well-being all the best. However, do not have the audacity and ignorance to come and cry to me if you stick around.
3rd June 2021, 15:31
I think the main reason why Sebastian Deisler to quit football as such a young age was more physical than mental. I think the fact that he suffered multiple serious injuries amplified his mental struggles but it was basically the main reason of his retirement. I remember him saying after a comeback from a serious injuries that he doesn’t have the same ability and confidence as he used to have.
Anyway, what a terrific midfielder. After Deisler, Germany didn’t have anyone at his level apart from Tony Kroos.
3rd June 2021, 18:20
A lot of athletes have talked about how injuries are extremely hard mentally. Basically, athletes tend to lose nearly all the things that make life enjoyable to them when they get a serious injury:
– Training with their peers/friends (injured athletes tend to get separate training)
– Working towards a performance at a specific date and thus having a clear goal to work for (in contrast, overcoming an injury is often not seen as a proper goal in itself, since it just enables the athlete to start training for the goal again). A lot of athletes live in a certain pattern where they sacrifice a lot for a a period with a clear end date (like the tournament end date), they then afford themselves some luxuries afterwards and then go back to the ascetic pattern for the next tournament. Both the tournament and the luxuries afterwards are then a reward for the asceticism. Yet recovery tends to consist of an ascetic pattern, but without a clear let-off or reward.
– Validation of their abilities to themselves (a lot of injured athletes suffer from strong doubts whether they can ever compete at their ‘proper’ level again)
– Others seeing them as a proper athlete, who is far above an amateur
– Feeling like they cannot pay back those who help them by performing
Hazel Southwell (@hazelsouthwell)
3rd June 2021, 15:55
@klon this rather implies you think literally billions of people *could* do professional, elite sportspeople’s jobs which I have to tell you: we absolutely, 100%, to an almost inconceivable degree, couldn’t. The difference between an elite sportsperson and the very, very best amateur in their field is incredible and most people never even become good amateurs, even if we all put in the 10,000 hours.
we can’t expect to find the exceptional individuals who are best at a sport *and* demand they are popstars. it is not the same job.
3rd June 2021, 16:12
I think you missed the point @hazelsouthwell.
Nobody is ‘demanding they be a popstar’ – answering a bunch of questions isn’t a performance. It may be extremely unpleasant and take people beyond their comfort zone, but it’s exactly as big a part of being a professional athlete as hitting a ball, running fast or driving quickly.
Note the highlighting of the word professional – as in ‘this is an innate part of being a professional in that field’. A responsibility that goes with the role. No job is one-dimensional.
It’s no different to the imposition of being a role model or idol to other people. Few set out to be, but it comes with the territory, like it or not.
3rd June 2021, 16:46
@hazelsouthwell No, I do not think so. Replacing Osaka or Hamilton or whomever else near the top of their respective game with, say, myself would result in a hilarious failure the likes of which has rarely been seen by the human species. The truly elite at the sports are a near-superhuman combination of skill, natural talent, effort and that little bit of luck. However, that does not mean they get a free ride as far as I am concerned. Media obligations are a key part of earning them that well-deserved money; you know as well as I do that media, broadcasters and sponsors are the main reason why pro athletes receive the money they do. Therefore the job means dealing with press conferences, means dealing with PR appointments. If these entitled people do not want that, they can play their sport at a local casual club where nobody will bother them. Walking away is a legitimate option from my point of view. Wanting all the good things of stardom without its downsides is not.
Hazel Southwell (@hazelsouthwell)
3rd June 2021, 18:34
@klon but playing your sport at a top level =/= superstardom. They are not the Kardashians. To want to win against the best is not to want to be famous, it’s to want to compete.
The level of invasive intrusion by media to sportspeople is huge. Especially someone like Osaka, who is known beyond the sports press and thus has to face tabloid-style questioning alongside that which is relevant to her performance.
It’s also worth noting the women’s tennis press is exceptionally creepy and intrusive, and much more of an obligation than, say, F1. F1 drivers do 30-40 minutes before and after a race, over a four-day weekend. Tennis players do 30 minutes after every single match of a tournament – that is popstar levels of interview, during a point where you are meant to be performing at your physical and mental best and it’s totally, utterly irrelevant to that.
I’m a member of the press, I interview drivers after and during events and it does frustrate me when they walk away or don’t bother. But I definitely see the human side of why not. What on earth would be gained by them politely trotting out a bland line, at best or – at worst – melting down, knowing that that PR their ~professional~ career stands on is determinant that they can be that polite, bland, media trained figure even at their most stressed moments?
3rd June 2021, 20:20
A quick image search tells me that Osaka appeared on the cover of a lot of top-tier magazines, which is a voluntary choice that is fame-seeking behavior. She also voluntarily chooses to supplement her considerable winnings with even more considerable sponsor income, which further increases her fame/exposure. So your claim that she merely wants to play tennis is not consistent with her actual behavior, which goes far beyond what is necessary to get to play at this level.
This is false. They only have to show up if their presence is requested. The claim that these press conferences always run for 30 minutes also seems to be false. For example, here we see an entire post-match presser by Serena, which is over in less than 4 minutes:
In fact, when scouring for full post-match press conferences, the longest I found was 25 minutes (which actually was with Osaka). There does seem to be a rule that they have to attend the press conference within 30 minutes, so perhaps you confused that with the length of the conference itself??
I think that this is quite simplistic. Lots of fans are appreciative of less-polished behavior. Raikkonen became a fan favorite with Bwoah and other behavior that is far from what media training tells people to do. And surely Conor McGregor wouldn’t be such a huge earner if he wasn’t such a macho drama queen.
Hazel Southwell (@hazelsouthwell)
3rd June 2021, 23:07
@aapje Actually I believe it is that they must be available for a full half an hour, however long the press actually spends with them, which may sometimes be shorter.
Being invited to participate in a photoshoot for Vogue is an honour, especially as a woman rarely represented in the media. It is a different thing.
People like McGregor – the people who are bulletproof to every criticism, every actual crime – are praised and adored and raised up by the people tearing down Osaka.
If an athlete would be harmed by doing press mentally, same as if they were dragged out of the car or off-court and forced to face press with a broken limb, I do not want to be their tormentor. And I seriously question the ethics of anyone who would want to be.
4th June 2021, 11:21
I looked it up and it’s in the WTA rulebook:
So it’s a bit more complicated, as the press conference where they sit down and answer questions of the general media, is just one of the events that they are required to do, where all of them together have to be at least 20 minutes and less than 60. The rules are ambiguous as to whether the player can call it quits after that minimum of 20 minutes and whether they can choose how long to be present at each activity.
Osaka’s tweets seem a bit inconsistent, so it is difficult to know what her actual issue is. In her May 26 tweet, she claims that journalists are being unkind and only points to press conferences as the problem, but she also announces that she will boycott all media, including TV interviews (which is not a press conference). Yet in her May 31st tweet, she argues that the media has always been kind to her and that it is her own anxiety that is the issue, not the behavior of the media.
It’s hard to make sense of this when someone is being inconsistent like this.
I guess that narrative fits your politics, but how does it fit the facts? McGregor broke the rules of his sport when he started fighting with the wrong people at the wrong moment, resulting in a 6-month suspension and a fine. He has also been fined quite a few times by judges for mischief outside the sport. He took a plea deal for his NYC conduct, which is how most convictions in the US are handled.
Osaka merely got a fine and decided herself to withdraw. And your insinuation that McGregor only gets support and Osaka only gets criticism is utterly absurd.
Why do you make that comparison, rather than make the more apropos one, where a tennis player has an injury that is very painful to play with (and/or may cause permanent disability if they play despite it)? In that case, they face the same choice that Osaka had: either try to play with that injury, or withdraw and forego the income, points, etc that they would get for competing. Note that many players then already make the choice to compete despite the pain or even risk of permanent damage (and many athletes do end up with the latter). They are not forced to do so, as they can choose to withdraw and heal up, just like Osaka could have decided earlier to withdraw and heal mentally (if that is possible).
One of my objections to your narrative is that you make a false distinction between one part of the job (playing the match) and another (doing media events), even though these are part of the same job. From the perspective of the WTA, these are not separate and you cannot do one without the other. You may not like that arrangement, but it is the one that has existed for a long time and the other players seem to accept it.
If Osaka has a temporary mental injury that makes it impossible for her to do her job, then her situation is no different from players with a physical injury that cannot play. Yet she demands special treatment that others do not get. I’m sure that plenty of injured players would like to get paid by the tournaments for just showing up to press events, but not playing, but they can’t do that either. If she has a permanent disability that prevents her from playing, then she is in the same situation a many players who had to end their career due to disability. And if she can do her job, but it is painful for her, then she is in the same situation as many athletes who endure permanent pain while playing.
All these people have to choose for themselves to weigh their options, with all the consequences that entails, no different to Osaka. Your narrative that employers are somehow tormenting people by expecting them to do one part of their job before paying them, but not when expecting them to do another part of their job is inconsistent.
3rd June 2021, 18:24
I read the argument as a claim that many would far prefer to be a top tier athlete over their current job, if they had the talent, which few have. Ultimately, all top tier athletes are immensely lucky to be born with the privilege of having that level of talent.
They can only be credited for what they do with that talent, not for having it. Similarly, people without that talent also cannot be blamed for not having it, but at most for not making the most of whatever talent they do have.
3rd June 2021, 15:58
This is a difficult one as mental health issues effect many, whether it’s the stress of media or having enough money to feed a family.
However in these examples we’re talking about elite sports men need women who either have a full company team behind them or as a minimum coaching teams who can support them through these issues.
I don’t see how you can opt out of the media commitments that come with your job when the job itself is funded by those same media and commercial commitments. It’s an expectation of being a sports star that you’re asked questions about a game/event afterwards whether you won or lost.
On a slightly different note, I’ve never personally been interested in watching the media interviews, whether it’s F1, Tennis or football. They’re always so boring with the same answers after every event.
3rd June 2021, 18:28
I don’t think that these press conferences are really intended for the fans directly, but they provide material for journalists (not necessarily as the center piece of a story, although that happens regularly, but often as part of larger stories).
3rd June 2021, 16:57
Black lives matter for Hamilton, no surprises there, but where was his show of support when fellow drivers like Norris publicly admitted he was struggling with mental health coming in to F1? Or this site? Where was he when the media were practically bullying his friend and team mate Rosberg, who was dragged to the press conferences to be grilled by biased journalists at the most inopportune moments, obviously suffering, and quitting not long after? Has there ever been a single story on here about the implications of any of this, or has it all been considered par for the course until a Guardian article about something completely irrelevant to F1 could be used to flatter Hamilton with the most tenuous of links now?
3rd June 2021, 18:35
He also questioned Max’ ability to cope with the pressure of a championship run, which is the kind of behavior that Osaka called out as abusive when journalists do it, a claim that Lewis got behind.
Not that Max would be rattled by that, but it’s not very consistent, to say the least.
3rd June 2021, 19:22
“where was his show of support when fellow drivers like Norris publicly admitted he was struggling with mental health coming in to F1?”
You don’t know what support Hamilton may have offered Noris, all you know is its not in the public domain, or at least not known to you. This is a strawman.
Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
3rd June 2021, 17:25
I’m not really in a position to have an opinion, I’ve not been following the story. However I will say that modern day rude, hard faced, sensationalist journalism in sport makes me cringe all the time. It’s definitely got worse and the disrespect is abhorrent sometimes.
3rd June 2021, 19:31
Osaka , must have been dreading the usual lazy questions, where journalists already have the story writen in their heads and ask the same questions to get the same answers they can twist out of context. Im sure she would want to move on, but is aware the typical journalist wont allow that, even as other forces look to make its point. We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Then there’s a question of culture and how much more intrusive the western press is, compared the polite respectful nature of the press in her home country. Most can’t begin to appreciate how much harder it would be to adapt when you simply aren’t use to it.
3rd June 2021, 17:28
I have to disagree with Lewis here because Naomi Osaka is extremely fortunate to be in the position she’s in. There are 1,000s of players who can’t even afford to get to a match and no one wants to talk to them. They’d love to have the opportunities that life has given her. You can’t expect to make a bazillion dollars a year, be treated like royalty everywhere, win grand slams, have a platform to speak about important matters and on top of that complain about that.
Would she rather she was a nobody tennis player with $10 in her pocket driving to an event with bad racquets and strings? Would that have made her happier? It’s all up to her to reach that level of happiness – she can lose every match, drop every sponsor, and then drop in rankings into the challenger tournaments camping on her way there.
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 17:55
I really don’t understand what you mean by that @freelittlebirds, I mean she’s about to play in open tennis tournaments because of her talent and achievements, right? Same goes for the ‘opportunities that life has given her’ – all lives are circumstantial, but she has definitely reached her ‘position’ through personal application and talent. Which is more than you can say for many other people with similar wealth.
Osaka said she wouldn’t be doing ‘media duties’ for the French Open because of her mental health. The response was to fine her and threaten to expel her, so she dropped out. Really, you’re OK with that? And think mental health should be treated as monetized issue the way you’re suggesting?
David BR (@david-br)
3rd June 2021, 17:59
*able to play
3rd June 2021, 19:39
I’m going to play the devil’s advocate. Let’s suggest that Osaka would have been granted a permission to skip all media duties in Roland Garros and in every other event on the ATP tour whenever she wanted to. Would it that be unfair to the rest of the players who are fulfilling their media obligations because in this case she will have more free time to focus on her Tennis and keep the pressure away from her.
I’m not underestimating mental health issues, but I think the organizers did the right decision. What else they could have done especially that as far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong please), all this just came out of the blue. I hope Naomi will recover from her struggle and return will return to her winning ways but that would be on level playing field.
3rd June 2021, 19:49
@david-br like you said, talent is not something that everyone has. This talent along with her personal application has allowed her to reach the highest level. For many people, the same opportunities don’t exist or they are not as talented.
Nonetheless, if she wants to compete in these tournaments then she has to abide by the rules. If she can’t do that, she should not be asking for preferential treatment. Playing cards to avoid criticism isn’t the right thing to do. I don’t doubt that she’s having some sort of mental issue and perhaps taking a break from tennis might be the right this.
However, if she’s depressed as she claims, she would NOT be winning Grand Slams or planning to win the Olympics – folks who are depressed don’t win 3 Grand Slams in 2 years. That’s such an insult to anyone who has won one before and certainly to everyone who has tried to reach that level.
It’s akin to saying, I’m depressed, I’ve a cold, my left side can’t move, I’m 100 pounds overweight, I’m pretty sure I suffered a heart attack before getting on court, both my legs are at 20% but I really think I can win this tournament!
Depression is a very serious affliction – it’s belittling it by saying that she can play the tournament but doesn’t want to talk to the press.
4th June 2021, 0:27
@freelittlebirds, not everyone with significant depression is nonfunctional. In fact, the adrenalin and mental focus of high performance can be a self-medication for depressives, the way some people handle stress or anxiety by binging alcohol or drugs. So yes, someone who is seriously depressed could win Grand Slams. I have a close relative who has significant depression that he struggled with for 20 years before finally getting properly evaluated by a psychiatrist and starting medication. In spite of his depression, he was an honors medical student, trained in a highly technical surgical specialty at a top 5 surgical program, has clinical and lab research published in major medical journals, and won awards for patient care and teaching. He is the medical equivalent of a professional athlete. I cannot tell you how many times over the years he would call me late at night to tell me how miserable he was, how he went from depression to panic attacks, how he obsessed over fears of making a catastrophic surgical error (even though his statistics were above national benchmarks for outcomes, complications, etc, and he was highly sought after to speak on his surgical procedures). He even considered suicide at some points. Thankfully, the worst days are behind him now. My point is that mental illness does not conform to reason or logic. You would be surprised how well people with specialized skills are able to perform in life in spite of significant mental issues due to their their passionate commitment to what they are skilled at. The pain and agony occurs later, in their down time, family life, evenings alone, etc. they are unable to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
5th June 2021, 17:40
@slowhands Thank you for sharing that. It’s very impressive that your relative was able to deal with it. I think these edge cases are not necessarily the way that most normal people deal with it and I’m not entirely sold that a person can win a Grand Slam – the precision that tennis requires is usually undone with a single bad call. If these people are 5% off, their tennis is 50% less effective.
David BR (@david-br)
4th June 2021, 12:52
@freelittlebirds I just wouldn’t presume to guess that someone is lying about their mental health to avoid media interactions. I think it’s just basic compassion to assume it’s the truth in this case. I also question why the word of a black woman, renowned for speaking out on police brutality and for BLM, became such a matter of doubt, turning her into a public target (despite backing from fellow professionals who have a much clearer idea than any of us concerning what these media briefings exact from a person).
4th June 2021, 13:57
@david-br I’m not entirely versed into the specifics of the incident – I just heard it from my daughter and wife who keep current on tennis events. Don’t get me wrong – I think Naomi is a champion and has done a lot of great things and she also seems to be a bit different than most people. I’m not questioning her mental health as going out and playing a competitive match on TV in front of tens of thousands of spectators and millions of viewers would tax anyone’s mental health, to the limit:-)
I’m simply questioning her professionalism and bringing attention to the appearance of opportunism to change the narrative to potentially suit herself. There’s nothing wrong with pulling out of any event for any reason – she’s totally entitled to never play competitive if that’s what she wants. However, the initial request for preferential treatment followed by a withdrawal to avoid severe long-term penalties, then followed by a late(? correct me if I’m wrong) admission of depression going back to 2018, a period that she was able to win an additional 3 grand slams during a worldwide pandemic under the effects of depression, along with a subsequent claim that she’ll play in the Olympics in 2 months do raise serious question marks as to her character.
For sure, it belittles anyone who has had depression in their lives. What, you are depressed and need some time off? Naomi Osaka was depressed and she won 3 Grand Slams while she was depressed… during Covid! Get out of bed and go to work, now!!! If you’re really depressed, you should be competing against Michael Phelps and beating him!!!
Well, that’s unfortunately not how depression works and I’ve seen folks who suffered from it so that’s what personally made me question her. I wish her the best.
3rd June 2021, 20:24
Being born with immense talent is just as unearned as being born with very rich parents. And in both cases, the person can make the most of their circumstances or fail to do so.
4th June 2021, 8:39
Come on @david-br. You know full well she wasn’t ‘threatened’ (more, informed) because of mental illness.
It was due to the breach of their contract, which she voluntarily and willingly signed.
Consequences for breach of contract? Yes, I think that is acceptable.
3rd June 2021, 17:38
The consistent whining doesn’t help his case to be honest
It’s the most consistent thing about him only followed by his laptimes when his tyres are “gone”
Green Flag (@greenflag)
3rd June 2021, 19:52
Your consistent whining far exceeds Lewis’s.
4th June 2021, 10:42
Why Thank you, I do practise a lot so for someone to notice really means something
Adrian Hancox (@ahxshades)
3rd June 2021, 19:33
I have in the past suffered from depression and it is a truly petrifying thing – well it was for me. When I was struggling I made sure that my employer knew what was happening, they were very supportive and I also have supportive (tolerant?) friends and family. I’m Lucky.
I think both Naomi Osaka AND the tennis authorities could both have handled this in a better way, but what’s done is done. I believe that the way it has blown up will bean it is dealt with reasonably now by both sides
I think Lewis is entitled to his opinion and to be heard as much as the next sports star.
I think there are sports Stars and celebrities that use their celebrity to promote causes dear to them, then complain about the intrusion on their life that this celebrity causes which is somewhat contradictory. I am not accusing Lewis of this – but its a juggling game that these sports celebrities need to master, and I think he does this well.
I no longer watch much of the post race interview / coverage for the reason that I don’t enjoy seeing these that maybe haven’t performed so well picked over by some of the press like vultures – this is my decision though. News in general has become hugely predatory throughout the Covid era with ambush tactics from interviewers leading to car-crash coverage – seemingly there to criticize and score points rather than inform and tell a story – reporters that could know better just seeking that sound bite rather than a balanced view.
Sorry – turned into a rant . . . didn’t mean to – but there you go.
4th June 2021, 13:59
Thank for the post, I am glad to read that you have managed to get through the depression and your employer was supportive @ahxshades.
I agree with you that surely there must have been ways to handle this between Osaka’s team and the WTA/tournaments without having to resort to fines, threat of bans and stepping back from the tour under pressure and in the floodlights of the media.
As you mention, the whole post race interview stuff should probably be looked at and handled differently to work better both for the sporters and for the journalists.
Adrian Hancox (@ahxshades)
4th June 2021, 14:44
@bascb – many thanks for your kind words.
(that’s a phrase we don’t see often here)
4th June 2021, 19:01
3rd June 2021, 19:37
One other point which almost goes without saying. But when you see someone like Hamilton or Osaka quoted to sensationalise their statements, they’ll almost certainly have been asked a question which forced them to come up with that answer.
what we rarely hear in these articles is that question.
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
3rd June 2021, 21:00
It’s easy on the outside to say ‘If you don’t want the attention, Don’t play at that level’ but that is ignoring how many professional athletes now start at a very young age & many won’t fully understand what they are getting into at the highest levels until they get there.
Think of for example of somebody who starts karting as a kid. They started because a family member took them karting & they enjoyed it so kept doing it. They ended up been good at it so naturally moved up the ladder & gained attention from sponsors & teams which allows them to keep moving up. Before they know it then are having to do all the media & promotional stuff even if they aren’t ready and/or don’t know how to deal with it.
Some maybe get help with that stuff so are better prepared for it but many don’t & are simply thrown in at the deep end & struggle to cope. And then even some who have the media training reach a point where they feel it’s getting to them.
And then you have all of those media people who aren’t simply interested in asking about your last race but who want to know everything about you, Who will pry into your personal life, Make things up, Come to incorrect assumptions & make a big deal out of every little thing you do. And you then have to sit in a room with them & treat them kindly because if you lash out they will print that & build a narrative that your difficult to deal with or something.
3rd June 2021, 22:31
here we go again… lewis again … he’s infact making light of the Osaka situation .. thrown into the pit… please…
he was not having any mental health issues like osaka claims to have..
i do support her not talking to the media, but having to pull out of that… its ridiculous. ATP should support her in some fashion.. counselling etc and makes sure she’s ok and able to face the media, rather than fining her.. what BS.
lewis has had his struggles, but this is not one he can claim to have also gone through.. if anything he was the star
3rd June 2021, 22:39
Let the fans ask the questions:
1. Fans submit questions on a WTA/ ATP/ F1 etc. app.
2. Fans are able to review all questions and vote for questions they like.
3. Take the top ranked questions and submit them to the players; place the athletes in front of a green screen and record and edit each session.
4. Athletes can choose to ignore certain questions if they so decide.
5. Media use these responses for their articles etc.
The organisers tie this process in with sponsors and award prizes blah, blah, blah
I do this for clients all the time; its brilliant for driving traffic and increasing engagement, which sponsors love.
4th June 2021, 0:25
I’ll be blunt, un “woke” and I know this opinion won’t make me any friends, but welcome to the world. If you want to make the big bucks, be at the top then you have to accept the consequences of the deal. If you can’t cope, then get out or get tougher. It’s how the world works, and that’s the uncomfortable truth, that a lot of people will refuse to admit, or accept.
If Osaka does not want to talk to the media, re negotiate her contact, take a pay cut and have that portion excluded. Except her management probably won’t do that because it cuts into the profit.
She has, as most people do in this world, has the choice. She can choose to or choose not to, if she chooses to then accept the consequences of the choice, if she chooses not to then the same applies.
If it was a business and the CEO comes in and says I don’t want to do this part of the job because it stresses me out, then the board would see them as lazy, inadequate, or unfit for the role, and they would be replaced. That’s how the world works, if you want the top job and all the benefits then you better be prepared to trade everything for it.
If Osaka wants a normal life she can go coach at her local club or do anything else, she has that choice. If she wants to get paid millions to hit a ball around then accept the consequences of that choice.
4th June 2021, 0:38
That’s what we in the trenches tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better, but it’s not always true. There are plenty of people whose skills are so in demand that they can negotiate with their employer to avoid the parts of the job that they don’t want to do. I see it happen all the time. At one point in my career, I got myself into a position where I was able to say “I don’t want to do this part of my job” basically for my mental health. They divided up the thing that I didn’t want to do among other employees. And you know what? I generated even more revenue when I was not stressed and unhappy!! That’s the secret that’s kept hidden, so that most people will accept being drones and being stepped on and exploited. The key is for you to be so good at what you do that someone else can’t generate the revenue you do. When you reach that point, you can start bending the rules.
Tommy C (@tommy-c)
4th June 2021, 9:16
Sure, that’s how the world works. But I think the point is that it needs to change. The attitude of “get tougher” as you put it is why people find it so hard to talk about mental illness. She’s put her hand up (and stuck her neck out) and said I’m struggling and this is what will help me overcome it. It’s really quite uncontroversial but the response has been horrendous and shows we have so far to go in improving our collective understanding of mental illness and empathy for those suffering internally.
Jay Menon (@jaymenon10)
4th June 2021, 1:08
I shall now stop attending daily meetings at work, because all I get are stupid questions from annoying people.
4th June 2021, 4:23
If you want to be famous then be ready to pay the price, if not just stay at home.
4th June 2021, 9:10
Non issue. You want to perform a paid version of your sport? This is the duties belonging to it. Something there you cant do or dont like? Feel free to perform your sport anywhere in the world where you can. Where there’s a track and some cars. Where there is a tennis court and some tennis balls. Nobody is stopping you. Just do it. But dont give me this entitlement attitude, its becoming so tiresome, especially form Lewis. In fact I’d be very happy if Lewis doesnt do any interviews anymore. The guy behaves like he is 6 year old. Great driver though, I cant stress that enough. Absolutely one of the best. But for me, he doesnt have to take his helmet off.
4th June 2021, 10:40
Its a weird one this. On initial thought, it is hard not to react negatively to people of such privilege (which they have earned) complaining. The financial stability, lifestyle, support, and just simple enjoyment for what they do is so beyond the average person, it is astounding. A lot of people deal with anxiety and depression in their daily lives without any of the support mechanisms afforded to them so sympathy was, I will admit for me as well, hard to find.
But then thinking about this a bit more, are we seriously going to argue that there is some sort of privilege level that makes anxiety and depression inducing situations acceptable? At the end of the day the only way I can personally see this is just another person speaking out about an issue that is clearly a problem to their group and trying to make their work conditions better, something that I will always support. There will always be someone out there that will find your problems comparably insignificant no matter how unprivileged you are so I think that you can only approach this issue divorced from privilege and simply listen when someone says that it is a problem for them as you would any other human being.
An who knows, maybe the whole process will be made better even for the people that clench their teeth and go through with it without complaining. Maybe we will get less cases of athletes not being able to perform at their best because of psychological pressure, which is incredibly relevant to F1.
4th June 2021, 23:31
My favorite kind of bravery is doing the job when it gets tough, not evading it
You stay away from the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat. Fine. But let’s not make a virtue out of it.
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