The mention of sponsors’ names does nothing but rile the cynical mind of the sports journalist, writes Anthony Tan.
I now find myself back home in Sydney with all its creature comforts, after three weeks’ living out of my Samsonite suitcase presented by Hot Wheels, reporting at the Tour Down Under – sorry, Santos Tour Down Under – and then the Tour de Langkawi. Or should that be the Telekom Malaysia Tour de Langkawi?
Yes, yes, I understand the need for sponsors but do we have to have it rammed down our throats like a newborn receives its first taste of something other than its mother’s milk?
You see, when I bought the weekend paper to catch up on what else has been happening besides the incessant flooding and clean-up that pervades the state to the north of me (some call it Queensland, others Redneckville, ‘Straya), I discover the Aussie superfish Ian Thorpe, darling of the pool at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, has decided on a comeback – probably because he didn’t have anything better to do and missed the limelight.
But at his press conference, instead of saying something like, “I still feel the best is ahead of me” or “I retired too early” or “I got bored with studying a university degree I probably wouldn’t use”, he kept mentioning the name “Virgin” and how the boss of Virgin Australia, John Borghetti, previously executive general manager of our country’s national air carrier, Qantas, was among the first he consulted when considering a comeback. The scene was made all the more ridiculous when Borghetti forgot who he was working for and declared: “And he will win many, many gold medals for Qantas… I… I can’t believe I just said that.”
What a plonker!
So far, in more than a decade of reporting what goes on in cycling, I haven’t heard an athlete dedicate his win to a team he/she no longer rides for – so far it seems only company execs are capable of that. Though with all the chopping and changing that goes on nowadays and fidelity a thing of the past for all but a few, I’m sure it’ll happen sooner rather than later.
What I have heard, however, is certain athletes bang on about their sponsors in their victory speeches or post-race press conferences: “Oh, man, I couldn’t have done it without my team-mates and Sponsor A and Sponsor B and while we’re at it let’s not forget Sponsors C and D, either. And did I mention Sponsor U gave me the money to bring my Mom over here, who happens to be wearing the clothes of my team by Sponsor Y?”
C’mon, guys. To quote Lance Armstrong to AFP journalist Justin Davis before the second stage of the Tour Down Under, when Davis continued to prod LA about certain former US Postal team-mates’ allegations contained in a Sports Illustrated article, “Dude, are you that stupid?”
Really, when is the last time you saw an athletes’ quotes praising sponsors – even mentioning sponsors – included within the copy of a reputable publication?
It just doesn’t happen.
So if it doesn’t get printed, why say it, I ask?
My advice to those riders happy with whatever their sponsors give them in money or kind is to simply say, “Thank you very much”, use/wear whatever swag they give you, send them an occasional signed jersey if you win a mildly significant stage or race, and be done with it.
Just don’t bother telling us. Because we don’t care.
The Insider is a new feature on NYVelocity by Anthony Tan. In what will be a regular on NYVC, Anthony will contribute by way of podcasts with various industry folk, canvassing topics others are reluctant to discuss – as well as talking plenty of crap – and from time to time, he’ll also write a column about what really goes on behind the scenes in cycling’s major league, keeping the teams and those within on their tippy toes.
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