Zach Thornton and Media Relations

On Monday's post about Zach Thornton leaving the Chicago Fire for the Colorado Rapids, I puzzled a bit over the player's silence about the move. Now, I'm not delusion about the reach of this site (hey...I was once big in Poland), but not one, but two answers to my puzzlement appeared in the Chicago media today.

In the farewell to Thornton posted on his blog, Luis Arroyave's laments the player's unwillingness to step up to be the face of the Chicago franchise, which, again, is kind of funny given that I had dubbed in "Mr. Chicago Fire" in my post. If nothing else, I'd say this somewhat confirms Arroyave's theory about Thornton's ability to seize that role.

The article to which Arroyave's post refers (and that Arroyave wrote) dives deeper into Thornton's relationship with the media and it's a curious story:

"[Thornton's demeanor with the media] kept him from being the go-to guy in the locker room for reporters--a fact he was said to take pride in. Player interviews taking place near his locker ran the risk of being interrupted by Thornton--who would scold younger players for their comments and would even sarcastically mimic reporters' questions.

As much as I see Arroyave's point, especially where it comes to, frankly, being a dick about how other players interact with the media, I also have to respect the essential honesty of Thornton's position. The ferreting of post-game quotes is one of the strangest rituals of all sports; it's not just that the answer is obvious - "you lost; how do you feel?" or "you won; how do you feel?" - but that the vast majority of athletes spew nothing but safety-first pabulum in response. I'm content to take Thornton's behavior as an over-bold recognition of this reality. I can't blame anyone for declining to go in for the dog-and-pony show stuff that attends professional athletics. Put another way, if Thornton were more polite - both to reporters who are doing what is expected of them (even if it's silly) and to his teammates - this wouldn't be an issue. And, in fairness to Arroyave, I'd say he doesn't treat it like one.

In any case, looks like we won't get a chance to hear what Thornton thinks about his move any time soon.


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