I had grown used to the conclusion of any sporting endeavour being followed by a microphone being stuffed under the nose of the winner. The poor chap, or chapess, is then asked how they feel – usually before they have had a chance to draw breath, and often before they have actually stopped moving. The answers are seldom revelatory: after winning, all seem to evince some degree of pleasure in the result and could probably truthfully admit to being rather knackered (though the latter is not often mentioned). I have yet to hear anyone admit to a deep feeling of existential angst or question the relevance of their recent activity (and the years of training which led up to it). In fact, it seems to me that we could take the answer to the question as read – and not bother asking it in the first place.
Those who do not win are allowed slightly longer to frame an answer to the same question (basically, they can think while the winner is answering), but sadly this time is rarely put to good use, with the same platitudes being trotted out time after time.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise – we do not, after all, watch (and indirectly pay) the sporting for their searing philosophical or emotional insights or, in some cases, even their ability to string together a coherent sentence. Equally, we do not expect our great philosophers, playwrights and poets to complete the 100m dash in under 10 seconds – though I fear it may only be a matter of time before such an event is televised for our viewing pleasure.
I’m sure when I were a lad, the athletically-inclined were allowed to be good at their sport and not expected to speak in public (unless they wanted to) – so I think this must be a new ‘idea’. However, so ‘successful’ has it been that it has not remained limited to the sporting arena – or the much older sphere of the grieving relative.
I’ve just been watching coverage of the Proms on BBC4, and have discovered that soloists and conductors are subjected to the same treatment as our athletes. As they walk off stage, they are ‘nabbed’ to find out how they feel – and, their answers are only slightly more illuminating than those of the sporting. Whilst the musical have probably used less energy than an athlete (though in most cases will have been performing for longer), they tend not to be in such good shape, and so they also tend to be somewhat breathless and have not generally spent their recent performance preparing answers to inane questions.
Could I suggest to interviewers that if the answer to the question is blindingly obvious (or the question is clearly inane), then don’t bother asking it!