Richard Sherman and why we do post-game interviews

Richard Sherman (AP photo).

From Joe Posnanski:

Why do we ask these players (and coaches) questions so soon after they were under fiery hypnosis, so soon after they were smashing into each other and breaking bones, right as the adrenaline is draining and the pain is beginning to surface? And, more, why do we expect their answers to fit our expectations?

Post-game quotes and interviews are, in my opinion a classic example of institutionalized behavior in sports journalism. It's the subject of my dissertation. When I tell people I'm writing about institutional sports journalism, their eyes justifiably glaze over. But this is what I'm studying - the routine practices of sports journalism. I don't have any data to support this yet - these are just my thoughts and impressions from my years as a sports reporter and as a grad student studying this stuff.

There are reasons for sports journalists to do interviews after the game. One of the main ones is the fact that it's just what you do. It's accepted as a part of the job. Sports reporters are trained, through education and socialization, that interviewing players after the game is a part of the job. It's the sign of a true pro, a true journalist. To not do it is almost unthinkable - even though, as many people have pointed out today and other times, most interviews just yield cliches and banal descriptions.

This doesn't mean that doing post-game interviews is wrong. But the fact that it's done without thought to its efficiency or effectiveness, that it's done because it's what others do and because it's the way things are done, make it to me a potential example of institutionalism in sports journalism.

Why do we do it, Posnanski asks? In part, I think, because it's what we've always done