The media and athletes have a complicated relationship. Both “need” each other to do their job – don’t start, a professional athlete’s job is more than what he does on the field or court. They are also required to market the game But I will admit that the locker room can be an awkward place to facilitate that relationship.
NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts has noticed this, and recently spoke out about what she feels is a problem with media access to players.
“Most of the time I go to the locker room, the players are there and there are like eight or nine reporters just standing there, just staring at them,” Roberts said. “And I think to myself, ‘OK, so this is media availability?’ If you don’t have a f—ing question, leave, because it’s an incredible invasion of privacy. It’s a tremendous commitment that we’ve made to the media — are there ways we can tone it down? Of course. It’s very dangerous to suggest any limitation on media’s access to players, but let’s be real about some of this stuff.
“I’ve asked about a couple of these guys, ‘Does he ask you a question?’ ‘Nah, he just stands there.’ And when I go in there to talk to the guys, I see them trying to listen to my conversation, and I don’t think that’s the point of media availability. If nothing else, I would like to have a rule imposed, ‘If you have a question, ask it; if you don’t, leave.’ Sometimes, they’re waiting for the marquee players. I get that, but there is so much standing around.”
The Professional basketball Writers Association has responded to Roberts claims.
“Members of the Professional Basketball Writers Association stand for fair and responsible journalism. The NBA’s media-access rules do more than protect news outlets; the rules serve the public because the rules facilitate informed, accurate coverage.
“The suggestion that reporters use locker-room access periods to eavesdrop on players’ conversations or to do anything other than work is inaccurate. The NBA’s pregame media-access period provides a vital forum for building constructive relationships between players and reporters. In the vast majority of cases, reporters are in locker rooms before a game because the reporters are waiting to interview players who are in the training room for treatment, on the court warming up or attending pregame chapel services.
“The PBWA has worked with the NBA in recent years to streamline the daily access periods for players and coaches. Individual players are no longer required to do interviews both at the morning shootaround and during the pregame availability session. The pregame access period has been reduced from 45 minutes to 30. The amount of practice time open to the media has been reduced from 30 minutes to 15. These changes were made to assist players and coaches and reduce their media obligations during their workdays.