Recently, many athletes have turned against the press and media that follow their careers constantly. However, in an effort to re-address the problem, some athletes are adopting a different approach for dealing with the public’s interest in their careers.
Marshawn Lynch, a Pro-Bowl Running Back from the Seattle Seahawks football team, exhibited the typical response by famously responding to reporters’ questions with evasive answers like “no comment” or “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” leading up to the Super Bowl game in February.
Athletes grappling with the press is a tradition that dates back to the 1970s, when legendary athletes like Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson constantly complained about the media’s coverage.
But Derek Jeter, a former baseball player for the New York Yankees team, is taking a different kind of action. In his second year of operating a media enterprise called The Players’ Tribune, he is hoping to transform how professional athletes are viewed and covered.
The purpose of the Tribune is “to present a medium for direct reflections, thoughts and experiences of professional athletes.” It provides daily sports coverage like many other sports outlets, but it is unique in that it publishes first-person stories written from the perspective of athletes.
Content on the Tribune includes videos, audio podcasts, player polls and written articles, all branded as ‘The Voice of the Game.’
It features a wide variety of athletes from All-Star basketball player Blake Griffin to swimmer Seun Adebiydi. With this site, Jeter has begun to influence the sports reporting industry by offering a platform for athletes to skip the middleman and reach their fans directly.
At The Gregory School, history department chair Dr. Michelle Berry teaches a one-semester sports history course. Berry recently devoted a full class period to discussing and debating this new development in sports journalism.
“It’s a nice representation of players taking control of their own voice, and I think so often athletes who are college and pro are spoken for and kind of filtered through the people who are in charge of them,” Berry said. “Being the populist that I am, I don’t think that’s fair.”
It is not hard to see the difference when you read the articles on the Tribune site. The athletes are far more open with their dialogue and you can hear their authentic voice in the content.
One piece written by Washington Wizard small forward Paul Pierce showcases this new storytelling medium. In the article, Pierce discussed the ten most difficult athletes he ever had to cover. Honest and open articles like this one allow the athletes to connect intimately and authentically with their fans.
The Tribune offers a unique narrative on the sports industry, but everything is still very much related to the coverage offered by traditional sports journalism platforms. According to Berry, combining both traditional and player-centric stories offers the full picture.
“When I’m trying to get the big picture stuff, I go to ESPN or Bleacher Report. This stuff is more focused,” Berry said.
Avid sports fan and senior Danny Benson said, “I still prefer ESPN for highlights and scores, stuff like that, but I think that the articles on The Players’ Tribune are really cool. I probably go on it a couple of times a month.”
The Tribune is a refreshing change from mainstream athletic coverage. As fans, we can get so consumed in what the “experts” think that we forget about the athlete’s perspective and role in the sports industry.
Jeter has opened up a whole new kind of narrative with the Tribune, so there is a possibility that we won’t hear any more funny but evasive quotes like ‘no coment’ and “biscuits and gravy.” Instead, we can read articles about what athletes are actually doing, thinking, and feeling. Sports fans should rejoice.
SUGGESTED FOR YOU...