Young athletes are expected to answer the most intimate questions in a cynical and often predatory environment
Regular attendees of Arsenal press conferences at the Emirates Stadium – in the before-times, when these things still happened – will tell of a mysterious character by the name of First Question Man. Nobody ever discovered who FQM worked for, or if he was even a journalist at all. His only real talent, if you can call it that, was to sit in the front row and make sure he asked the first question, usually by barking it while everyone was still taking their seats.
Why FQM did this was never clear. It can’t have been ego: I never met anybody who knew his real name. Nor was it an attempt to glean some sort of privileged insight: indeed, most of his questions were actually statements: banal bromides beloved of press conferences the world over. “Arsène, you must be happy with the win.” “Unai, a point seemed like a fair result.” “Mikel, a tough afternoon, your thoughts.”