We’re not the good guys: Osaka shows up problems of press conferences
[…]the world No 2 Naomi Osaka announced that she would be boycotting press conferences at the French Open in order to preserve her mental health.
On Monday night, after being fined and threatened with expulsion, Osaka quit the tournament altogether.
And so the modern press conference is no longer a meaningful exchange but really a lowest‑common‑denominator transaction: a cynical and often predatory game in which the object is to mine as much content from the subject as possible. Gossip: good. Anger: good. Feuds: good. Tears: good. Personal tragedy: good. Meanwhile the young athlete, often still caught up in the emotions of victory or defeat, is expected to answer the most intimate questions in the least intimate setting, in front of an array of strangers and backed by a piece of sponsored cardboard.
There’s an odd ritualistic quality to all this: the same characters sitting in the same seats, the same cliches, all these millions of wasted words, the unopened bottles of mineral water. Is there not a better way of doing this?
This dynamic is only exacerbated in women’s tennis, a highly visible enterprise that takes place not just in a largely white male space, but a white‑male‑with‑free‑food space. That sense of voracious, engorged entitlement often manifests itself in exceptionally creepy ways. Question: “I noticed you tweeted a picture. Are you prepared that if you go on a long run you may be held up as a sex symbol, given you’re very good looking?” (Genie Bouchard, Wimbledon 2013.) Question: “You’re a pin-up now, especially in England. Is that good? Do you enjoy that?” (A 17-year-old Maria Sharapova, Wimbledon 2004.) And of course there are plenty of decent, curious journalists out there doing decent, curious things. In a way, this is what makes the chronic lack of self‑awareness so utterly self-defeating. Read the room. We are not the good guys here. We are no longer the power. And one of the world’s best athletes would literally rather quit a grand slam tournament than have to talk to the press. Rather than scrutinising what that says about her, it might be worth asking what that says about us.
If Power to the Person was about technology empowering individuals, and The Great Online Game was about how the internet blurs the line between work and play, this essay is about how we play the game as teams of individuals or small groups.
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Evidence of brain damage after high-altitude climbing by means of magnetic resonance imaging
Results: Only 1 in 13 of the Everest climbers had a normal MRI […]
Conclusions: We conclude that there is enough evidence of brain damage after high altitude climbing; the amateur climbers seem to be at higher risk of suffering brain damage than professional climbers.