Can the media ruin a sport?



I had the misfortune of watching a newly televised Lifetiem Fitness Triathlon on OLNTV this weekend.  I saw it advertised and was excited to see one broadcasted.  So, I made an appointment with the TV on Saturday morning at 10:30AM to watch it.

What I saw made me ill...
I saw 3 annoucers, 1 guy didn't know jack ****, 1 guy was supposedly a retired triathlete (had never heard of him) and couldn't even get the names of the pro contenders correctly, the other was this brunette bimbo that sounded like they had run into her that morning at the model school down the road and threw a microphone into her hand.  It turned out to be an "international distance" (shorter than Olympic distance, but longer than a sprint).  They advertised the biggest purse for triathlon race at $180,000 total.  I sat back in horror as I watched my beloved humble honorable sport reduced to a "spectator sport".  They removed the men/women groupings and introduced a "handicap" for the women and awarded the purse based on overall results.  Lifetime Fitness was the sponsor.  They interviewed the CEO of Lifetime Fitness.  They interviewed the mayor of Minneapolis, where the race was.  Chris McCormick would have won this, but his bike seat fell off!  What?  His bike seat?  They never came back and showed what happened because their camera on the bike route went out.

I watched Barb Lindquist, a woman who has completed and won the Kona Ironman Distance Triathlon which was 4 or 5 times longer that this one, collapse as she crossed the finish line.  I watched the bimbo interview the guy who came in third as she asked him "how was the drafting?".  FYI:  There is no drafting in USAT triathlon.  The guy just looked at her like she was an idiot (and she was) and said he didn't know because he was by himself most of the time.  LOL

Anyway, triathlon was, for me, embracing and humble.  It was an individual sport.  Women competed in their own world and men in theirs.  I didn't like the "handicap" they introduced.  I didn't like the insistent plugging of the CEO and mayor.  I didn't appreciate the commercialization of a sport that has always remained an individual sport of endurance and difficulty and who embraces anyone who is willing to give it a tri.

I saw this as the beginning of the end for triathlon as it is now.  Big purses, external competition, sensationalism, and a growing number of qualifiers for entry into races are going to drive tri into the ground.  I embraced triathlon as strongly and warmly and it embraced me 3 months ago.  I talked to pros and competed along with them in awe of their non-egos and seemingly inhuman ability.  I competed in a race where people were cheering other people on during the race.  We were all there to prove it to ourselves that we could do it.  It didn't matter who we were against.  We were the same because we all knew what it took to be there and why we were there.  I hope that triathlon never becomes the ego-maniacal, crazy, high money stakes, everyone else loses sport that so many other individual sports have fell victim to.  I hope, for the sake of all tri lovers out there and those who don't yet know they are tri lovers, that this ends here.  

That is my rant on this.  I don't know if anyone else shares my resentment of this Lifetime Fitness Triathlon broadcast and maybe you saw it or maybe you didn't, but I wonder what your thoughts are.
Persistence -- Just so you know what to look forward to, the rugby league state of origin series in Australia finished with scores level in the deciding game this year. Naturally, one would think they would play extra time to get a winner, right? Wrong. Because Channel 9 had commitments to show the World Cup (starting at about the time the game was due to finish), they accepted the drawn result and left it at that.

SBS didn't even show the end of the Mt Ventoux stage of the TdF (which was supposed to be live), so the station could go to a "temporary close". The more time goes on, the less I seem to enjoy watching sport on TV. I think I'll just go out and ride my bike instead.
In the UK media coverage of one or two 'big' sports damages coverage and as a result sponsorship of other 'minority' sports. We recently lost our daily 30 min TDF coverage to some men dressed in white playing with balls and sticks. Justice, I think not! TDF is now back on TV via digital, so I don't get to see it!

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