Monday, July 30, 2012

Brailsford, trolling and modern day Murrows

Further kudos to Dave Brailsford, the performance director of British cycling.

I heard Victoria Derbyshire on Radio 5 live this morning idiotically attempting to goad him into getting into a row with the press. It's really irritating when media 'personalities' try to create controversy out of nothing by provoking people. Ms Derbyshire asked Mr Brailsford what he thought about the severe critcism of some of the Sunday papers. He quite reasonably and good naturedly responded that he didn't read them.

Ms Derbyshire replied that she did not want to be the bearer of bad news (I believed her but millions wouldn't) but the newspapers had described Mark Cavendish's failure to win the gold medal in the Olympic cycling road race on Saturday as a "disaster", "catastrophic" and other similar such exaggerations and harbingers of doom. She wanted to know what Mr Brailsford's reaction to that criticism was and would not let go.

He calmly again explained he didn't read the papers but that the team had given everything in their efforts in the race and he was proud of them and could not have expected any more.

It is ridiculous to characterise the failure of a sports star to win a race as a 'disaster' (a sudden ruinous event or great misfortune or mishap causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship e.g. an earthquake, a flood or a plane crash). Even more so to lend such descriptions credence. And worse again when so called 'respected' journalists, like Derbyshire, try to incite heated reactions to such unadulterated nonsense in order to create a story out of nothing. With the Olympics in town it's not as if they are exactly short of sports stories anyway! I'm no believer in golden ages when the media reported rather than created stories but we could do with a few more Edward R. Murrows influencing the modern news agenda.

Ms Derbyshire tried every angle she could think of to stir up a row - what did they do wrong; how was Mark Cavendish feeling; why didn't the team do something different; how were the team reacting to it and each other; how did Mr Brailsford feel about the press criticism; what would he do differently; surely if they got another chance they would try something different.

Mr Brailsford batted it all away calmly and neutrally and expertly refused to get pushed into lashing out at media trolling. There are a lot of cycling events to come and the team have prepared well and are hoping for success. Judge them by all means on the medal haul at the end of the Games rather than the disappointment of failing to win the first. Well done Mr Brailsford and good luck to you and your team... apart, of course, from when you're up against the Irish!

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