Naomi Osaka writing in Time Magazine about her decision to withdraw from the 2021 French Open:
“In my opinion, the press conference format itself is out of date and in great need of a refresh. I believe that we can make it better, more interesting, and more enjoyable for each side. Less ‘subject vs. object’, more ‘peer-to-peer’… Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions… I have numerous suggestions to offer the tennis hierarchy, but my No. 1 suggestion would be to allow a small number of 'sick days' per year where you are excused from your press commitments without having to disclose your personal reasons. I believe this would bring sport in line with the rest of society.”
Rob Parker: “I just threw up in my mouth. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. People are so spoiled. She thinks she’s punishing us [the press], that’s really what she thinks. She thinks it’s about US. ‘I don’t want to talk to them!’ ‘They ask me questions about why I lost!’ ‘Why did I have a double fault!?’ REALLY?? That’s the worst thing in the world to be asked about the game you played?? I just don’t get it. It ain’t that hard and people have been doing it for 150 years. You come out, you answer 5 or 10 damn questions and you go on with your life. What is wrong with people? We don’t need to re-invent the wheel, NO. We don’t need no sick days, NO. Handle your responsibility! Fall in line! And if you don’t wanna do it and don’t wanna deal with the media, get another line of work, it’s okay. Play tennis in the park with your family and NOBODY will ask you a question… This attack on the media, I can’t take it.”
Chris Broussard: “Look, she’s got some anxiety about these questions. Her sister kind of let the cat out of the bag, she just didn’t want to answer challenging questions. I get it bothers you but everything isn’t ‘mental health’. It’s a challenge, more people are more outgoing than other. Some have more trouble speaking in public. Some people get stage fright. Some people are shy. We get that, but I don’t think that’s a mental health issue. I just think that’s your personality. There are serious mental health issues and we gotta deal with that, but I don’t feel like asking questions about 'my struggles on this type of court' – I don’t think that’s a mental health issue. You just didn’t want to deal with the media that day. We all have things we don’t want to deal with. This is what we gotta tell the millennials – everything ain’t always going to be peaches and cream. There’s things about our job we don’t like. There’s things where you just gotta suck it up and deal with it.”
Listen to Rob Parker and Chris Broussard discuss Naomi Osaka’s recent column in Time Magazine titled ‘It’s OK to Not Be OK’, as Osaka opened up about her reasons for dropping out of last month’s French Open because of ‘mental health’ concerns that centered around her refusal to do post-match interviews.
Check out the segment above as both Rob and Chris take exception to Osaka’s perception of the media, and challenge her on her defiant unwillingness to complete a basic task that all athletes have the responsibility of performing to act as ambassadors of their sport.