Tour de France time again and with that said, I had planned on not speaking of it here while it was going on. However; being that I work amongst folks that are still big Tour fans, it is hard to ignore the spectacle for me. That is why something was brought to light to me this past week. The pro road racing scene has become a bit of "reality show T.V." Especially around the Tour.
The first week of any tour is generally a nervous, crash infested week where riders eager to jockey for position to show themselves for their team and sponsors make many risky maneuvers. Add in sketchy roads, wind, and in the case of this Tour- rain, and you have the recipe for disaster. It is what it is for the riders. Big pile ups, mangled bikes, and broken collarbones are all in a days work for European based pro roadies. This has been going on for years.
What is disturbing to my mind is the relentless pursuit of the media to bring you and I face to face with this part of cycling. The "blood sport" aspect that results is nothing less than disgusting. Really. Do I need to see blood pouring from a young man's broken body seconds after he smacks terra most-firma? No. Neither do you.
And the riders don't appreciate having their visages plastered on every screen and device this side of the Pecos either. Check out what recent crash victim, Jani Brajkovic had to say about this:
"To all media who put a photo of me bleeding, laid out on the road, half-aware, on the front page of daily news, etc…How would you feel if I was your son, your family??"
I'm betting they wouldn't like it, Jani. And we shouldn't be looking at those images either.
While I respect that "the story should be told", there are better ways of doing it than by jamming a camera up in someone's face and having some media wonk making some less than stellar commentary about it on live television. I saw Tom Boonen's wreck and it was interesting how almost within seconds of his sitting up in the middle of the road, a moto had swooped in, a cameraman had leapt off the mount, and was within three feet of Boonen feeding the "raw images" around the world. It's sick, and it is wrong.
And it isn't just the images either. We even get live audio from these scenes of carnage and we get to hear the expletives of frustrated riders. Nice. What would you expect them to be saying? This isn't news, and it isn't anything we need to be hearing. What next? Will they be "streaming" live video and audio of the peloton's "nature breaks" next?
I guess they may as well. But I won't be tuning in.