By Ezra McCann 

Contrary to popular belief, the media is not the enemy of professional athletes. Sports journalists act as a liaison between the sports they cover and the fans who live and die with their teams each season.

Fans have become hungry for as much information possible about their favorite teams and players. They look forward to hearing or reading about the postgame comments and finding out what happened. Fans want to know how an athlete was able to hit that last-second shot or what pitches they used to strike out a batter or why they  ran out of bounds with less than two minutes on the clock in the fourth quarter.

Taking the media’s questions after a game allows athletes the chance to speak for themselves and give the fans an insider’s perspective. The worst thing an athlete can do is to not talk—forcing the media to guess at what they’re thinking or feeling. It’s much easier to confront the situation, answer questions and be done with it. Speaking to the media is good for business as well. Athletes who interact with fans through the media help generate interest in the sport—which, in turn, makes sports fans more likely to watch the games on television and spend their money on tickets, concessions and memorabilia.

The growth of professional sports in America is largely due to the access that has been granted to the media over the years. Sports league revenues generated through the selling of television broadcast rights are the primary reason professional athletes are able to earn such lucrative incomes. Television networks are able to commit outrageous sums of money to leagues because of the advertising revenue they are able to generate. The advertisers get their money from the consumers purchasing their products—who just happen to be sports fans.

So, the moral of the story is that athletes should not ignore the media. If you’re an athlete, take three minutes out of your schedule and answer questions concerning your team and performance. If you don’t know what to say, discuss it with your team’s media relations representative. Win or lose, athletes have an obligation to discuss the game and the team with their fans.