I like this flight of fantasy by veteran football reporter Christopher Davies, writing on the Football Writers' Association website.
OLD TRAFFORD, AUGUST 26, 2013… MANCHESTER UNITED v CHELSEA: At 5pm, a Manchester United media relations official opens the home dressing room and invites the accredited media to enter.
They are able to select the players they wish to interview about the game. Robin van Persie talks about his goal… Wayne Rooney is happy to chat about his United ambitions.
Meanwhile, in the Chelsea dressing room, it's a similar story. Players happily talk to the media as they get dressed after a shower.
Neil Custis, Danny Taylor, Ian Ladyman, Richard Tanner, Mark Ogden and the rest of the Manchester-based reporters leave Old Trafford with note-pads full, happy in the knowledge that whatever they write – or indeed, whatever headlines their sports desk may put on their reports – they will not… in fact CANNOT be banned.
All of which is as likely to happen as being struck by lightning a minute after winning a lottery rollover.
Yet if members of the Football Writers' Association covered American football such facilities would be reality – and much more.
While English football too often erects a barrier between managers and players and the media, the National Football League's press policy ensures those involved in the sport must speak to the press on a regular basis. Yes, must. And yes, regularly.
NFL clubs, and by extension their head coach and players, have no option but to adhere to the media regulations laid down by the NFL. Anyone who misses a mandatory interview session can be fined, even banned – a role reversal from England.
The FWA has worked closely with the domestic authorities to improve press facilities with success... members of the Pro Football Writers of America enjoy a freedom we can only dream about.
Davies goes on to explain how NFL players have media training and receive briefings on the journalists they are likely to meet, with booklets containing biographies and pictures. He continues:
Imagine Ashley Cole being handed a booklet with details and photographs of the press he has not spoken to for six years.
In England, apart from some local newspapers, there is little or no daily contact with managers or, particularly, players. Generally speaking, the day before a Barclays Premier League game the manager and perhaps one player will attend a press conference.
In the NFL, each club must open their locker room… to all accredited media for player interviews for a minimum – yes minimum – of 45 minutes…
In addition to holding a news conference after every game, the head coach must be available on a regular basis to the media that regularly cover the team – at a minimum on four days.
Players who feel uneasy about female reporters in the locker room receive no sympathy from the league, whose policy is: "By law, women must be granted the same rights to perform their jobs as men. Please remember that women reporters are professionals and should be treated as such"…
The NFL sees the media as a valuable outlet to sell its product. Its policy states: "Cooperation with the news media is essential to the continuing popularity and financial prosperity of our game and its players..."
Anyone who reads the way the US media covers the sport will realise that such an open policy does not result in lovey-dovey reporting. Hacks on the other side of the pond have a deep well of vitriol, but they are not punished for any critical views...
English clubs ban reporters for the most ridiculous of reasons, not least for printing an injury story that is 100% accurate, but which the manager would rather have kept quiet.
This cannot happen in the NFL as the league insists that clubs must ensure that all medical information issued to the media is credible, responsible, and specific in terms that are meaningful to teams, media, and fans…
Teams cannot be economical with the truth and no injuries can be kept secret from the press and, most of all, spectators.
Franchises are also forbidden to ban individual members of the regularly accredited media for what is perceived as "unfair coverage" or any similar reason. In the United States, journalists can write what they want without fear of reprisal...
Oh, and all salaries of coaches and players are made public. Sigh.
I'm sure that all the journalists who cover football, and some other sports too, will identify with Davies's frustration.
Source: Football Writers' Association