Naomi Osaka’s recent withdrawal from the French Open needs to be a landmark decision in the way both we as the media and fans of sport change our approach.
It would be fair to say sports media is at its all-time lowest point.
The desire to provoke reaction with little to no thought of the impact on the mental health of athletes for simple clicks has seen the worst in people come out.
We see poor headlines, outrageously critical stories and a lot of belittling of athletes, we need to remember a very important thing – they are human beings. We all are.
They are not there to be a sponge for abuse for you losing a multi-bet. They are there to play sport professionally, and we are entertained by watching it.
It’s time we got back to enjoying what we watch and going back to the simple things.
Each and every week, there are stories about reactions to moments from personalities in the media or club greats or many more.
Those reactions are often met with more reactions and thus creates a toxic circle of a necessity to create content designed specifically for you to click on.
This content isn’t helpful to what we need to help enjoy the sports we love so much, it’s unnecessary.
We’ve all been guilty of it in the past, myself included. Drawing attention away from those who deserve it, the players on the field.
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Naomi Osaka is one of the best athletes in the world. Would we be missing out by her avoiding the media? No.
Are we missing out on watching her because she was forced into a situation which harmed her mental health and ultimately opted against it? Yes.
My co-host on The Press Box Dale Fletcher made a sensational point this week around players in individual sports.
Those in team sports, like Aussie Rules, rugby league and so on have a huge support base and don’t have to face the media each and every week.
He mentioned the case of Richmond’s Dustin Martin and how much media he does. The answer is not a lot.
They can opt into their media opportunities and often coaches are the ones which have to face the music.
Tennis players, cannot, as proven this week.
Coverage across our sports is at its all time lowest, and funnily enough, there’s one quote from The Simpsons which sums up how we resolve these issues.
‘Just don’t look.’
If you don’t look, these things will disappear.
It’s time we start putting our full attention to those on the field, those whose stories are told properly without misleading headlines, and those wanting to see improvement across the world of sport.
Moments like these force change. Now is the time for that change.
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