Jan 26 2006
Have I railed against the mainstream media recently? Well, allow me to do so. First – this headline. “Mentor young American riders”? Ol’ One-Nut is mentoring no one. It says right there he’s got a bloody contract, which would indicate he’s getting paid. Probably getting paid a whole lot. Mentors don’t get paid; consultants do. And “young American riders”? Where did the two-for-the-Euro hack that wrote this pull that out of? Again, the article specifically says he’ll be working with Team Discovery Channel, which has all of three Americans on it. And, at ages of 27, 32 and 32, none of them really qualify as “young” (for a cyclist), do they? Though I’m well aware of Armstrong’s history of philanthropy, I don’t think he needs to be given credit for “mentoring the young” when he’s simply doing his job. Honestly, I’d expect this sort of ignorace from the AP, but the French, who actually follow this sport, ought to know better.
Of course, the cycling-specific media isn’t so much better. At the Disco presentation, no one asked “Hey, Johan, how is your approach to the classics going to be ‘identical’ to previous years, when your primary classics weapon is now prepping for the tour?” This guy (scroll to “George Hincapie”) tried , but came away with the wonderfully paradoxical response that George is both “willing to go all the way” for the Tour and “not quite ready to give up” on the classics. Way to pin him down on an answer. It is good to see, though, that Velonews’ correspondent had time to interview Discovery Network President Bill Campbell, because, I, as a cycling fan, value deeply what some suit, who probably thinks Paolo Bettini is a type of jug wine, has to say. It’s like no one reporting on this sport is willing to risk breaking some balls, or even a sweat, asking tough questions. Unless, of course, it has something to do with doping; then it’s sharks on a whale carcass.
Eh, maybe I’m just angry. Team presentations (more Saunier Duval!) are laid back, joyous occasions, and such tough questions would probably be met with Alito-esq avoision. Why should these journalists go all aggro and alientate the riders and team management by asking tough questions? They’ll still get paid, right? Plus, they do provide some interesting training camp features, and even brief history lessons. And, if the teams themselves chronically aim low (defending second place in an unpaid competition, fabricated by the Monkey Tour?!), why should the media be any different? I mean, we can’t all have the grandiose goals of Tom Boonen, can we? And even then, a superhero like Blackout Boonen has to make some concessions; he’s left Roubaix out of his historic triple crown. Heck, even in the pursuit of dopers, probably the thing folks get worked up about most in this sport, cycling seems pretty chill.