BY PATIENCE LEPHOGOLE
Public life has never been easy for sports personalities. Learning to use the media to ones advantage can turn the exercise from a fun game into a horrendous one.
Media personnel more often than not are the eyes and ears of their audience hence they have a responsibility be analytical but unbiased.
You may not agree with what they have decided to investigate or how they go about it, but if you are being interviewed it is because you have agreed to provide honest, well-thought-out answers to the questions posed.
For other athletes, having to deal with the media is a nightmare for them.
A case in point would be Botswana’s 400metres track star Amantle Montsho.
When offered a platform to speak to an international audience during the International Working Group (IWG) on Women and Sport conference in Botswana in May last year, the athlete froze.
While used to having the eyes of the world trained on her in the grandest of stages, the athlete, for once, could not cope with speaking in front of an audience off the track field.
In the aftermath of such, questions arose as to whether local athletes were well prepared to face the media.
However, this does not only apply to athletes but to coaches as well. They tend to shy away from the spotlight although there is no way it can be avoided.
I recall an instance when I had attended women cricket tournament last year, and wanted to interview a cricket coach known to me. He refused and said I should rather send an email or bring a paper with the questions for his perusal.
He said: “I do not want an audio or to be recorded, I do not want to be a meme the following g day if I fail to articulate English well or if I fail to express issues I had in mind the way they should be expressed.” We later resorted to writing questions on a paper.
This shows how much power the media have on other athletes. As for other athletes they feel comfortable, poised, and articulate in dealing with the media, and others have mastered the fine art of effective self-promotion, and to raise their media profile.
Dealing with the media is an essential component of your sport career while interviews should be welcomed as opportunities to discuss an athlete’s sport, career progress and goals.
According to the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Communications & Marketing Manager Lame Ramokate, they encourage the media to support athletes and to give them opportunities where they can learn on how to interact with journalists as well as maintaining relationships with the media.
Asked on how the BNOC empower athletes to be able to communicate with the media, Ramokate said they normally have media engagement training for athletes who take part at their games, which has proven to be important and beneficial. She further added that as for the selected team, prior to each edition of the Games and during camp they are taken through media training.
“Through our MoU with BITC, and through their support we have arranged media training for athletes the last being before the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where they were trained on how to prepare for interviews, how to talk to journalists, language, what to say and not say, how to put message across and so forth,” Ramokate highlighted.
Moreover, Ramokate added that they also mentally prepare athletes for interaction with the media, to try calming them. She said “We usually have a psychologist as part of the medical team prior and during the Games.”
“Through our partnership with BITC, we remind athletes that they are Brand Ambassadors and should sell Botswana in the international stage and that they should maintain the botho value, by respecting themselves and their competitors,” she revealed.