Although it doesn’t lead to the most exciting evenings, I can’t pass up a chance to watch free mixed martial arts or boxing events.
Last weekend, UFC featured a Titan Fighting Championships event on its Fight Pass network. The card — which lasted a good five-and-a half hours — featured 12 bouts, four of those title matches. One of the better fights featured Tim Elliott, a former UFC fighter, who broke a two-fight skid to win the vacant Titan FC flyweight championship.
The post-fight celebration wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen. Elliott stood triumphant in the center of the cage as Titan FC CEO Lex McMahon wrapped the flyweight belt around his waist. Elliott’s family entered the cage and his wife handed him their infant daughter. During the post-fight interview, Titan FC cage-side interviewer Joe Ferraro’s microphone got a little too close to Elliott’s daughter, who started to get fussy resulting in Ferraro and Elliott getting through the interview quickly.
Earlier that day I watched some boxing and saw Chris Arreola, who had just finished a 10-round fight with Fred Kassi that ended in a majority draw, hold his infant son Alex — whose name is printed in big letters on the front of his trunks — during the post-fight interview.
Although these scenes were touching moments, they made me reflect on a topic that came about a couple of months ago regarding professional athletes bringing their children to post-game press events.
During the May 19 post-game press conference that followed the first game of the NBA Western Conference Finals, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry was answering questions when his daughter Riley appeared from under the table to tell her dad that he was talking too loud, then played a game of “Peek a boo,” among other things.
Some reporters were irritated that Riley stole the show while others thought she brought some amusement to what would have been a routine press conference. Riley Curry made another appearance in other post-game events.
Stephen Curry isn’t the only athlete to bring his family to the stage. Professional athletes such as Tim Duncan, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose bring their kids with them to the podium after games.
One of the criticisms from the media lies with the significance of family appearing at press events. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said he didn’t have a problem with athletes bringing their children to special events like an All-Star weekend or a championship game but they shouldn’t bring them to a regular season game — or in Curry’s case, game one of a division championship series.
Another argument is that it’s harder for the media to ask athletes tough questions — you know, the ones where we ask about their thoughts on losing a game and what they will do to come back — if their family is present.
One suggested reason for the practice is agents encourage athletes to bring their families alongside them during games and press events in an effort to make them appear more human and appeal to the public. With athletes like Curry, we observe portions their personal lives and get to know them better.
If they make the news often or have cameras follow them around for a reality TV show we see a lot more — perhaps too much — of these lives.
Are children that much of a distraction during press events? If they are screaming and throwing a tantrum in front of the cameras and media, it can be distracting, as well as embarrassing for the parents.
Elliot’s daughter was getting fussy, but it was mostly due to Ferraro unintentionally putting his microphone in front of her face.
An athlete who brings their children to an event is more likely going to pay more attention to their kid and less to the cameras. In their world, their child comes first. Reporters may also have to answer any questions a child has for them, which is fine by me. Honestly, I’d rather talk with a child after a game than an angry parent.
I also think children can add something extra to press events. During normal events, athletes and coaches will give the “we gave it our 100 percent” or “we’ll do better next time,” stock answers.
Kids can bring some humor and emotion to what would be a normally boring press conference.
I do agree with Windhorst on something. If an athlete accomplishes a great feat such as winning a world championship or breaking a record, shouldn’t their family celebrate with them?