Olympic champion Michael Phelps is no stranger to media attention. Throughout the Rio Olympics (and most of his professional career), one of history’s most famous athletes has been under a constant media spotlight, giving countless interviews to reporters from all over the world.
However, Phelps’ latest encounter with the media made headlines of its own, when the 31-year-old swimmer was seemingly ambushed by a local TV crew at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. Phelps was just arriving home from Rio on Wednesday morning with his fiancée and their infant son, when “Good Morning Arizona” reporter Marc Liverman and his cameraman attempted to do a surprise live interview with the athlete.
The whole encounter, which was broadcast in real time, quickly moved into awkward territory to say the least.
“What’s the first thing you’re going to do?” asked Liverman.
“I’m not answering any questions, guys. If you could give me that space while I’m trying to get my family home and shave I would appreciate that,” Phelps countered.
Still, the reporter persisted.
Trying to keep his cool, Phelps asked the crew to contact his agent and schedule an interview at another time.
“I appreciate you guys coming, but I’m trying to get my family home safe and that’s what matters the most. Thank you for understanding,” he said before finally walking away.
Liverman congratulated Phelps on his Olympic performance and kicked it back to the anchors in the studio, both of whom seemed to be stunned by the response.
“Some people might say, well, that wasn’t very nice, but you’ve got to understand this guy gets mobbed probably every day of his life,” said one of the anchors.
Well, we at Red Banyan think that Phelps, asking for his space and asking to arrange an interview with his agency was perfectly nice. In fact, he conducted himself with the professionalism and class that he has embodied throughout his legendary career.
What wasn’t vey nice, was the behavior of the TV crew that ambushed the athlete and his family as he was returning home after weeks of grueling competition.
After all, there is an appropriate time and place for everything, and the most decorated Olympian ever couldn’t have been more graceful in communicating this to the media.
Nicely done, Michael.