Thursday, October 8, 2009
Ironman World Championships...It Needs a Shot!!
This weekend marks yet another installment of the beloved World Ironman Championships at Kona Hawaii. With it comes the inevitable debates over the favourites at the event and who will step up and who will fall. The NBC coverage every year is not live and is presented as a scrapbook. Images flashing the screen some time after the event are edited to to tell the director's story - as they see it. For them it is not about the sport, but instead the stories that will sell ad time. Is Ironman distance events a sport or a story or both? Is it about the event at all or the journey to get there?
Myself, I am far from a triathlon elitist or purist. I am a fan and a participant (when not limping or hunched with some ailment). As a participant it is about the hours, days, months, years spent training to get to where you want to be; or more correctly for most age groupers, of who want to be or become. I like my story. Smoker, drinker, a generally lazy man. I thought I was happy but I doubt I was. I enjoy this new journey so much more than the drunken excursions to the karaoke mic stand, belting out Guns n' Roses for the other tone deaf folks in the bar drowing their sorrows. Now don't get me wrong this is/was fun. But what was its ends? I had the means but no end. Was my goal in those days to feel like a dog that's been kicked in the head, combing whatever nonsense had taken over my teeth and tongue? There was no goal. Only living to live. Triathlon gave me a goal and story to get there and likely, hopefully, more stories to get there.
Granted my story is not that of the Blazeman (google it) or Sara Reainhartsen (I know I spelled it incorrectly) but I have story. NBC picks and chooses the stories it wants to tell. How are any of the stories better or more interesting than another? In my gentle opinion they are not. Some of the causes benefit greatly from their exposure on the network but is it sport?
The fan in me wants to see the race. I want to see Macca go down with a bum cable. Not a personal thing but the drama. The NBC editing makes it seem slow and unimportant or only a back drop to the motivational or touching tales of woe. Stadler's breakdown a few years back was shown edited to the point of not being able to see the total breakdown. These stories are important because they are attached to the athletes the fans want to see. NBC should focus on the athlete personalities at the race and in the prelude to the event.
Macca's mouth is a show in its self. I don't mean this in a bad way. I mean that Macca makes me want to see him more and hear him more. This is what brings the money into triathlon. I want to wear the jersey that Macca wears. The shoes of Crowie. The speedsuit of Potts. I want these guys and girls to have a personality and let it show. Let them have fun on camera. I have been following Macca and Bozzone's twitter pages and it brings the fan closer to the guys talking trash (limited as it is) and what it takes to get them there. Their training is incredible and this is who I want to see in my SPORTS coverage.
In short, triathlon is a strange sport in that the layman races alongside his or her heroes in the sport. It is akin to playing in your Thursday night beer league with Ovechkin on your wing. Sure he is faster and better but you both came to the same spot in the same race on the same day. However this is the same with everyone. My story is no better than or worse than anyone else'. The pros do their work to get there and so do I and everyone else. As a fan of the sport I want to see the pros race in drama and spirited camaraderie. If this is promoted more I will have more interest in the sport and the manufacturers will have more money available for R & D, training, development and sponsorship. Focus on the drama of the sport and not the drama of life.