On the Bench: Cam Newton needs a game plan for media and a lesson in politeness

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On Oct. 25, at a postgame news conference following a loss against the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton abruptly left the podium and exited the room after rolling his eyes and declining to answer a reporter’s question. While his behaviour doesn’t come as a shock — especially given he had a similar reaction following a brutal loss to the Denver Broncos last year during Super Bowl 50 — it doesn’t make his conduct acceptable.

Newton is a valuable athlete and as the quarterback for the Panthers, he has helped them reach some incredible heights as a team. However, his behaviour makes him a less desirable player because of his propensity to make headlines in not so great ways. In fact, just two weeks prior, stories began to circulate about the way he addressed a question asked by Charlotte Observer’s Jourdan Rodrigue with an “it’s funny to hear a female talk about routes,” laughing through his response.

I don’t know what your opinions are about his response to Rodrigue’s question. Perhaps you think that it was a sexist comment, or maybe you believe that he was paying her a compliment but with a sarcastic tone as he later said in a statement. Who knows? Perhaps he just never noticed female representation at sporting events even though, according to a Gallup study, 51 percent of America’s female population describe themselves as sports fans. After all, it’s probably difficult to differentiate between women and men in the stands, on sports broadcasts or even sitting in a conference room … as a reporter asking questions as they are paid to do. Whatever the case, it wasn’t a favorable response. Actually, the retort cost him a sponsorship deal with Dannon yogurt due to the media backlash.

What’s most baffling is that Newton can avoid all of the media melee if he wanted to by simply being polite. Even if he had been exasperated by the questions that he endured for a whopping nine minutes, he could have left the conference in a much better way than he had. It could have been as simple as a “that’s all the time I have today,” “no more questions, please” or a straightforward “thank you.”

Cam, it doesn’t feel good to lose, and sometimes you might not be in the mood to answer questions, but news conferences are a part of your job that should be taken as seriously and professionally as any other area. You excel on the field as a quarterback; there’s no denying that even through your team’s losing streak. Now it’s time for you to make a game plan when it comes to the dealing with the media. If you need any help with that, let me know and I’ll be on the next plane to you, with Emily Post’s “Etiquette” in tow.

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