Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beyond the Finish Line: A Walk Through the Mixed Zone

Photo courtesy
Polakoff Communications
Once an athlete gets to a certain level, there become many more obligations and expectations of them beyond their performance on the field of play. Walking through the Media Mixed Zone at a major sporting competition is just one of those responsibilities. The Mixed Zone is designed to permit the broadcast and print media to “mix” with athletes for the purpose of an interview in a designated area. Athletes are not obligated to stop for interviews and you can imagine how tough it is if an athlete just had the worst performance ever. But lots still do.

This  dedicated and secured zone is in an area just beyond the field of play that athletes must physically pass through when they are finished competing. They don’t even collect their clothing first. This unique opportunity allows the media and ultimately the viewers to have a window to that raw emotion and immediate thoughts of the athlete.

Some key points to a successful Media Mixed Zone experience for the athlete:
  • Limit interviews to one minute or less so that as many broadcast and print media as possible have the opportunity.
  • Be positive, pleasant, insightful and gracious despite the stressful circumstances.
  • Act like a professional.
  • Give the viewer a reason to care about how you do.

Photo courtesy
Polakoff Communications
It does seem a bit strange to have an athlete perform to physical and mental exhaustion, then ask them to sound eloquent just seconds after for an interview broadcast live around the world. Most well rested and prepared people have difficulty doing this. But this might be the one chance that the public has to hear from an athlete. It’s the 30 second sound bite that will create a post card image of what the athlete is all about. If they act classy, then people will think they are classy. And vice-versa!

Just because the finish line is crossed does not mean that the elite athlete’s job is done. It is important for an athlete to also prepare and train for the moments immediately following their performance.
For more information on athlete interviews, please visit SIRC.

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