Athletes Open Up in “The Players’ Tribune”
By NICK ALBICOCCO
The generic “no comment” has been a mainstay in athlete interviews ever since the institution of press conferences. Many athletes have hidden their true feelings from the media and their fans for too long. In October 2014, the newly-retired Derek Jeter, a media magnet during his baseball days, founded a website called The Players’ Tribune, an online newspaper with the articles written by athletes. Jeter wanted to build a site where athletes could share what they really think and feel without reporters twisting their words. Notable athletes who have written articles for the website since its launch include Mike Trout, Kevin Durant, Russell Wilson and Megan Rapinoe.
The articles and videos published on the website have a wide variety of genres, yet all have one thing in common: athletes write the pieces. Former hockey player Patrick O’Sullivan explained the process for producing an article, “The athlete gets assigned an editor and basically you go back and forth until everyone likes what the product is. The athlete has the final say on what it looks like.”
The articles are captivating and give an unfiltered view of the athlete, something fans have always yearned for. In September, New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey ended the debate of whether or not he will pitch in the upcoming postseason by writing an article in The Players’ Tribune entitled “I Will Pitch in the Playoffs.” Harvey acknowledged his innings limit for the season yet assured fans that he would pitch in the playoffs whenever called upon. In November, the legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in an article titled, “Dear Basketball”. In Bryant’s poem, he mentions that the fans “gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream,” but he can’t play much longer. Another announcement through the website was made in December. The US Women’s National Soccer Team released a declaration through an article titled “Equal Footing” about the cancellation of their exhibition game in Hawaii. The article protested the fact that the team is forced to play games on artificial turf, while the men play strictly on grass. The team describes the field in depth saying, “The artificial turf was actually pulling up out of the ground, and the turf itself was both low-grade and aging.”
The website doesn’t only feature hard news. Some stories are about emotional connections that anyone outside the locker room wouldn’t know about. Just a few days after the tragic San Bernardino shooting, New York Giants safety Nat Berhe shared his feelings about how his hometown was the subject of a terror attack. He also touched upon the news that his cousin was shot dead in a piece titled “San Bernardino,” Berhe recapped his childhood and shared the text messages he sent during the tragedy. A few days after the article was published, Patrick O’Sullivan shared the chilling details of his father’s repeated abuse in an emotional feature called, “Black and Blue”. The former hockey player describes some of the worst punishments handed out by his dad such as whipping him and extinguishing cigarettes on him. In January, backup catcher Bryan Pena shared his daring escape from Cuba to America in “The Window”.
A comedic side is also featured on the website. “Letter to My Younger Self” features athletes writing letters to their younger selves asking what will happen later in their lives. “What the Blank?” is a section where athletes are given ten funny questions to write responses to. Fans of the site can also laugh at “The Chirp”, an all-inclusive look at the popular tweets that athletes have recently shared on social media.
Jericho students agree that “The Players’ Tribune” is exceptional. Senior Justin T. enjoys the “broad array of topics that are featured on the website” and considers “I Will Pitch in the Playoffs,” by Matt Harvey his favorite piece. Junior Tyler G. likes how the website “is a great way for fans to get more in touch with their favorite athletes.” Kobe Bryant’s “Dear Basketball” is his favorite article.
Derek Jeter wanted to develop an unfiltered website for athletes, and since the beginning of its publication on October 2014, the Players Tribune has exceeded all expectations. From hard news to heartbreaking features, the pieces are incredibly gripping while balanced by a comedic approach.
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