The post game interview

By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger/Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Perhaps the most awkward moment in a sports reporter’s job is the post-game interview. Fortunately, most coaches and players have a sense of humor and make it easier than the anxiety warrants. Depending on the game, the reporter might or might not have a good knowledge of the game just covered. That puts the reporter’s mind working on what he or she could ask without appearing stupid. However, I’ve found it’s better to simply go ahead and admit stupidity and ask for help. I long ago gave up on the idea of trying to impress a coach with my knowledge of any sport in question and instead concentrate on the knowledge of the coach. That made a world of difference. Such was the case when I covered a recent water polo match at Whitney High School. I had never reported on a water polo match before, although I did help broadcast one a few years ago from Sierra College. That experience didn’t prove to be of much help. So, when I approached Wildcats girls water polo head coach Kari Ustaszewski, I simply confessed my ignorance and asked her to describe for me what I had just witnessed. Much to my relief, she laughed, and then proved a fountain of information that not only completed my interview, but gave me some background on the sport. During that same afternoon, I had watched the Whitney boys lose, 15-0; again, red flag. Coach Ustaszewski had filled me in the match before as to playing the game, but what does one ask a coach whose team just suffered a tough loss? Again, I confessed ignorance and threw myself on the mercy of Whitney boys head coach Steve Casperite. It proved the right approach as coach Casperite was gracious and immediately put me at ease. He then explained fully why his club struggled. However, there are times when not knowing what you’re talking about can bring about a few awkward pauses. In that situation I have often resorted to the standard, “Tell me what you think about the game?” Surprisingly, that often works, but not always. That’s when reporters start to sweat. In this particular instance I had just watched a soccer match between Lincoln High and Colfax. By soccer standards it was an outstanding contest, but they had just played for 80 minutes and scored only two points. So, I approached Zebras’ soccer coach Jason Treanor and asked him to give me his assessment of the game. Coach Treanor repeated my question and then went silent. “Think, Jim, think,” I thought to myself, “you can come up with something better than that!” Fortunately, coach Treanor broke the silence and reeled off all the information I could ever have wanted; good coach, nice guy. Following Treanor’s interview I began to think of questions I always wanted to ask about soccer, so when I approached Colfax coach Jim Logan I put the question to him. The question: “How do you keep your players from not getting frustrated when they play so hard for a single point?” He laughed, and answered by telling me he teaches his kids a mantra, “The next moment is the most important one; whatever happens right now you’ve got to drop it, and focus on the next play of the ball.” Great advice for reporters, as well.