Did Cooper Go Too Far?

February 16, 2014 – After Olympic skier Bode Miller completed his bronze medal run in the men’s super-G, NBC reporter Christian Cooper was at the finish line ready to fire questions. Miller’s emotions were running high when he began his interview with Cooper (below is the transcript and link to the video). Miller lost his brother, Chelone after an unexpected seizure in April 2013. Chelone’s dream was to stand next to her brother Bode in Sochi.

Cooper’s first question, “Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here. What’s going through your mind?”. Miller responded slowly and with some hesitation, which demonstrated he wasn’t quite comfortable. Cooper continued, “I know you wanted to be here with Chilly [Miller’s brother] experiencing these games, how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?”. As Miller began to answer this question, tears swelled in his eyes. Cooper’s final question, “When you’re looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it just looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?”. After her final question the interview came to a halt and Miller broke down, yet the cameras continued rolling.

After the Bode Miller’s interview aired on NBC primetime viewers flocked to social media sites. In Man Play & Games, Caillois claims that play and real life are separate, “in the effect play is essentially a separate occupation, carefully isolated from the rest of life, and generally is engaged with precise limits of time and space” (Caillois 6). The majority of viewers turned to Twitter to defend Miller. Many suggested Cooper asked about an issue that was beyond the precise limits of time and space. Today it has become increasingly challenging for professional athletes to separate the limits of time and space, because simple everyday activities are dictated by their dedication to sport.

Today professional athletes cannot isolate play and real life. First, the motivation behind athletes engagement and continuation of involvement in sports is motivated by personal experiences. Many professional athletes engage with at least one social media platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram). While engaging in social media as well as interviews on television, fans are able to see multiple dimensions of athletes (professional & personal life). For example, Miller’s personal and professional life is heavily intertwined with professional snowboarding.

The viewers (sport fans in support of Miller) have claimed that this interview did not stay in the realm of sports. Bode’s relationship with his brother Chelone was connected to professional snowboarding. Cheloe’s dream was to stand next to his brother in Sochi. Cooper’s questions were emotionally loaded and they were appropriate and still in the realm of sports, because Miller’s profession and personal life are intertwined in the realm of sports. If Miller’s brother, Chelone was not an athlete, I don’t believe Cooper would have asked these questions.

 

Interview Transcript with Bode Miller and NBC reporter, Christian Cooper

Cooper: Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here. What’s going through your mind?

Miller: (Long pause) A lot, obviously. A long struggle coming in here. And, uh, just a tough year.

Cooper: I know you wanted to be here with Chilly [Miller’s brother] experiencing these games, how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?

Miller: I mean, I don’t know [if] it’s really for him. But I wanted to come here and uh — I don’t know, I guess make my self [sic] proud. (Pauses, then wipes away tears.)

Cooper: When you’re looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it just looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?

Tweets from fans supporting Bode Miller:

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