Google Down the Line!: The Times' Harman wants these awkward post-match moments to stop - can you blame him?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Times' Harman wants these awkward post-match moments to stop - can you blame him?

"Seriously, do I have to get up there and spill my guts? Didn't I just do that on court??"

Neil Harman has had his fill of watching awkward post-match moments (join the club) and he's not gonna take it anymore.

After watching Roger Federer literally dissolve into tears after his heartbreaking loss to Rafael Nadal at the Aussie Open, The Times' exasperated correspondent is pleading with tennis officials to go the way of most sports in the world and stop forcing the "loser" to get up in front of millions of spectators and viewers around the globe and speak:
No, someone, somehow has to take the bull by the horns and tell the television companies that we actually don't want or need this any more and whoever thought it was right in the first place should have seen how they would have liked it. Whether or not Federer should have reacted in the manner he did (the Net Post prefers a stiff upper lip but everyone is entitled to their opinion) that he need not have been placed in that position is without question.
"Just pretend you're enjoying this JD. It's for the fans girl."

He even goes on to lambast the Aussie Open's love for daily on-court interviews after every match citing Alicia Molik's talk with Jelena Dokic after her third round match and Jim Courier's embarrassing moment during his discussion with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:
The Australian Open is the only grand slam where on-court interviews are a matter of daily, often cringe-inducing routine. This year they reached their nadir when Alicia Molik, an above-average former Australian player and the latest of such renown to join the Channel 7 team of former players, said to Jelena Dokic "give me a hug, girl" at the end of her third round match on Rod Laver Arena. Never have one's toes curled so much.

Dokic could hardly refuse but she clearly wanted no part of such manufactured sentimental guff. And then we had Jim Courier, a fine commentator, putting on a Muhammad Ali mask to interview Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who, you've guessed it, looks like Muhammad Ali. M. Tsonga went along with the gag like a good sport. It was pitiful.
OMG - so hysterical! Yeah, and of course we'll never forget Nole mouthing off about A-Rod and the NYC crowd at the US Open last year. Don't they know you NEVER give a bitter man the mic?

It really doesn't make any sense to force someone who may have had their heart ripped from their chest (yes you Fed) to get up and tell everyone how they feel about getting their heart ripped from their chest - like we can't tell. Plus, do we really learn anything interesting right after they've just played their match? They're usually tired, worn out, sweaty and ready to hit the locker rooms - and that's usually what they tell us.

Let's give the winner some time to soak the moment in and let the loser go on their un-merry way.

What do you guys think about these post-match moments?


(image via Getty)


  1. I HATE them. Whether you win or lose, NOBODY can think clearly enough to speak at that time. Leave them alone, shut the f up, and just let us enjoy the moment.

  2. I love the on court interviews.

  3. Hey Rich!

    I don't agree with Neil about stopping the on court interviews (what would we blog about, then?) but I think he makes an interesting point. I mentioned this in a post a couple days ago - non-tennis people think the whole post match ceremony thing is very weird. Of course, I didn't understand why the Lakers weren't forced to stand around and make nice after the Celtics won the NBA finals, either. Could you imagine Kobe Bryant standing there as the green confetti poured down and saying "Great game, guys, you totally deserved it"?
    It's part of what makes tennis so special (and bizarre!)

  4. I totally and entirely disagree with everything said here. I love these moments. Jim Courier's interviews with Federer are absolutely lovely and so funny ! I mean, would you like players to be like robots, to show up on court, wave to the crowd, win their match and then just leave waving again ?? So boring. I love seeing them as they really are off court. Rafa is another example : his interviews are always funny and pleasant. The interviews make them look much more human and we get to know them - their personnality - much better.

    I think emotional moments like Fed's break down are what sport is all about. For me, sport is what bring us all together because it's the most emotional thing in the world (pure happiness, sadness, angst, everything you want). So don't try to make sport, and especially tennis as it's an individual one, a mere matter of fights, wins and loss. It's so much more than that.

    I will let Rafa speak for myself : "It was an emotional moment, and I think this also makes sport grander, to see a great champion like Federer expressing his emotions. It shows his human side."

    Finally, here are the Fed's interview with Jim if you'd like to watch them and haven't already :

  5. I love post match interviews. why not? It is just a sport after all. It is not like the loser is being set to Afganistan or something. It is the whole sportmanship thing.

    So what if Roger was crying his balls out. He got paid, what, half a million or more playing in the final, and I don't think it is that ridiculous to ask him stay and congratulate Rafa. It is a tennis tradition. A sportmanship thing. It is a shame that people just could not handle these sentimental moments. It is exactly these moments that make tennis so special!

    As for Molik's action, I think it is so touching (now we have different interpretation on Dokic's reaction) Perhaps Mr. Harman is just too afraid to display and emotion in the public. Since when PDA is not politically correct?

  6. They should put an end to it; Wimbledon does not have post-match court interviews -- thank God. However, recently, they've added interviews after the finals. What is the point of a mandatory press interview if you have to be degraded to speculative questions (more like comments) from the likes of McEnroe, Shriver, Carillo, et al. It might take a real bad boy to have a profanity laced on court interview to put a stop to it -- don't fall short next Novak, go all the way (you know you wanted to).

  7. I totally agree with Pau and Bebe. It's all part of the job description - the ceremonies, the on-court interviews, the questions. The players know that.

    And emotions are part of the sport, be it happy or sad. And it is only sport after all - the drama ain't that profound. Players have no problem with exposing their emotions when they're winning though - there they like to be the center of attention, being in the public. Well, especially in tennis, also being graceful when you're losing is the other side of the coin. Again: they know that.

    So I say: as long as the interviews aren't too cruel and everyone's treated with respect, I'm all for it.

  8. Jim Courier a fine commentator? What are you smoking? He's the absolute worst! Egomaniacal, sexist, non-stop talking through points, opinionated in all the wrong ways.

  9. Now we're combining two different topics. Emotions on court, and the on-court, immediately-after-match interviews. In my mind, two completely different things.
    I'm fine with emotions on display. I'm also fine with them speaking to the crowd afterwards.
    But I've yet to see one on-court interviewer ask a good question that the interviewee can actually answer. I mean, all you can ask is, how do you feel? What were you thinking at match point(s)? Are you going to sleep with natch?...Oh, carried away there for a moment. ;) We're lucky if we get an honest answer. I say let them be, and we can get some good thoughts from them in the pressers later. That will never happen, though, because now we're in the "give-it-to-me-NOW" age. Immediate gratification. Can't wait for the presser, or next day interview. Must watch interview NOW.
    It's just not my bag, baby.
    Although I will volunteer to sleep with any player who turns to the interviewer and says, "What kind of stupid question is that?" ;)

  10. I like on-court interviews, but I can't stand it when they interview the players right before they step on the court. You can tell that they just want to stay focused and don't want to be bother by journalists.
    Regarding the trophy presentation, I love them, but I agree that the runner-up shouldn't speak if he doesn't want to. It's a tough moment for him. And I'd also do without the sponsors giving speeches. Who cares what they want to say? We want to hear the players, not someone who usually doesn't even know the players' name.

  11. I think it has to be really awkward when you lose, to have to suddenly talk to millions. But it seems so commonplace now...

    What they need to get rid of is Bud Collins having anything to do with a microphone. I never cringe harder than when I see him about to talk.

  12. The on court interviews can be very awkward but often have some funny moments. It's the pre-match interviews that make me cringe. Those guys are so wound up they answer the same stupid generic questions asked in a zombie type state. I wouldn't be surprised if most of them don't even remember what they answered.

    As for the loser being part of the trophy ceremony I completely disagree with Neil. Looseing is part of the sport of tennis; maybe more so than most sports. And to be a good sportsman loosing with dignity and sometimes even overwhelming emotion is part of the process the players need in their experience and the fans need to connect. If they could just run and hide after loosing then the full lessons of sports would never be learned. Roddick one time said something along these lines after a complete an utter ass whooping from Fed at an AO. Something about he wasn't going to run and hide or beat himself up that his dad taught him to face his problems and own them and grow and learn. If N.H. is that uncomfortable with emotions from a man or the growing process then he can always turn off the TV.

  13. FERRARI:
    Interviews make tennis ,especially the finals, so special.
    Players can display emotion,become human. How much emotion depends on their background and makeup. Most players get coaching in public speaking anyway, so they can handle it.
    People around the world cherish these moments, that is except the British with their stiff upper lip. Sorry, Neil, I do enjoy reading you...

  14. Both anons,
    Thanks for the clarification. Natch appreciates (and suddenly feels like George Costanza talking about herself in the third person.)

    Bud Collins...GAH! He is fine for B-roll ( I can take him or leave him there), but live, GAH! He rambles, can't find words,...GAH! He's so frustrating to watch. I keep asking myself why he is allowed to speak. I think broadcasting is a place where ageism should be allowed. Anyone over 60 should be confined to B-roll only. That goes for you, too, Enberg!

  15. natch :
    "But I've yet to see one on-court interviewer ask a good question that the interviewee can actually answer"

    I swear, if you watch any of these videos
    you'll see that Jim has actually a lot of very good questions to ask Roger ! Or if not very good, at least funny... The quality of the on court interviews depend so much on the player.

    But I totally agree on the pre-match interview, that's total lack of journalism ! Stupid questions and standardized answers.

  16. For the most part the on-court interviews are benign, nothing too cringe-worthy or very interesting. Just shrug.

    Same for trophy ceremonies. Canned speeches. But once in awhile you get lucky and the runner-up delivers the goods (I'm looking at you Mary Pierce. She did her speech, Justine's speech, and speeches for the next 6 winner/runner-up tandems. Awesome!)

    I felt bad for Fed, but, how strange! There's no crying in baseball!

  17. LOL Natch - "that goes for you too Enberg." SO WITH YOU on that. Let him do the sweeping dramatic wrap ups, but otherwise, leave the commentating to people who can actually pronounce a player's name.

  18. I like the post-match interviews, but I too cringed when Alicia Molik hugged Jelena Dokic, and it is never fun for the runner-up to make a speech and be happy and charming: "Hi! I just lost! Thanks Rafa!"

  19. I don't really like the on-court post-match interviews. I find them really awkward to watch since the players are exhausted and the interviewer's questions are usually generic at best, and at worst attempts to get the player to say something stupid that would make a good sound bite. Athletes are trained to give cookie-cutter post-game interviews anyway (especially those, I imagine, who don't speak English very well, and thus have to rely on the same key phrases over and over again), so the whole pomp and circumstance of it never interested me that much. I usually just change the channel in those moments.

  20. Never give a bitter man a mike...

    So true..

    You know, I definitely played a terrible fifth set, you know. I kind of handed it over to him.
    Roger Federer

  21. Totally agree with Pau (3:51 pm).

    And I wonder why only now people started to discuss about this issue? Just because Fed cried and people can't stand seeing him crying? Why not people thought about this before when the grievance happened to other players as well?

  22. I am just glad we don't have to put up with Michael Barkan's celebrity interviews from the stands of the US Open anymore. Talk about painful!

    Also, can we talk about how Justin Gimblestob is the WORST COMMENTATOR EVER?!? Can the Tennis Channel seriously only afford Z-Grade talent?

  23. Pau,
    I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree on what a good, or funny, question is.

    100% agree! You're my new bff. ;)

  24. Federer is a bad loser, he can't even look his opponent in the eye. Even when he tries to say something nice about another player there is always an edge to his comment. He is regarded as being easy going, but this is only the case when he is winning or after a win. Just watch him after he has been defeated. He could learn a lot from Rafa, Del Potro or Davydenko about humility. These three players are really excellent role models for youngsters entering the game. I really hope that Federer matures in his attitude to his contemporaries, it is time he learned to take defeat graciously.


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