Tuesday, 15 November 2011

My Response to Mia Freedman’s Cadel Evans Comments

*I realise that this is a bit late, but because I have only just started this blog, I still feel the desire to make a comment  because I still can’t believe what happened!

Firstly, a bit of background: The Australian Cyclist, Cadel Evans was the first Australian to win the Tour of France, the worlds most prestigious cycle race. Many bleary eyed people (myself included), who had little sleep for the past 3 weeks, were on an absolute high! I believe the general mood was of celebration, admiration and pride. Soon after the Australian National Anthem was sung on the Champs–Elysees. A prominent social media commentator appeared on the Today breakfast news show and declared that she did not care that Cadel Evans had won the Tour, and couldn’t understand why anyone would care. Here is the link to the segment on youtube:

It definitely makes for interesting viewing!

There is so much I’d like to write about this, but I have decided to cover four important points.

1.  Mia Freedman received many abusive, derogatory, crass and personal messages from people who did not agree with her point of view. She appeared visibly shaken in a vlog televised on Mammamia Sky soon after. I believe there is never a reason to personally attack anybody online, or elsewhere, because they hold a different view than you. Of course there is a place for disagreement and controlled arguments, but this is far different from Hate and abuse. In this respect I am behind Mea Freedman 100%. No one should have had to weather that storm of personal  abuse. No matter what their opinion.

2. I have enjoyed reading Mia’s columns in the Sunday newspaper magazine and ironically, it was reading these articles that sparked my curiosity to start a twitter account. In fact, Mia’s twitter feed was one of the very first that I followed. I was surprised however, to discover on my time line, the morning of Cadel’s victory (Australian time) this tweet from Mia Freedman:

“I'm not going to be popular when I tell @karlstefanovic on @thetodayshow that I don't care about Cadel Evans.”

It seems to me that Mia acted in a clearly premeditated fashion. Was this a deliberate attempt to generate controversy and publicity that went a little too far? Did she really expect hordes of disenchanted women to grab there pitchforks and protest with her about the men in their lives taking over the TV to watch sport??  Did she truly missunderstand the undercurrent of support and pride for Cadel Evens that day? I truly believe (apart form the hate and abuse) that she ‘made her bed’ that morning .

3. In the interview, Mia seems to try and make the point that Cadel, or any sportsperson, should not be called a hero because “it’s not like Cadel has saved any lives” I do not agree with this statement. The Today show host Karl Stefanovic made a very good point when he said Cadel’s victory would inspire children to rise above adversity to achieve. I have read many blogs by current athletes that can pinpoint watching another athlete achieve, and want to emulate their successes by becoming an athlete themselves. For me it was watching the Australian Cycling pursuit team in the 1984 LA Olympics.

 I have seen my children stick their heads down and their bottoms up in the air, to create the perfect streamlined position “to be like Cadel”, going down the mountains. From my perspective, on my morning runs around the time of the Tour. I would image that I was Cadel Evans climbing the Alps in the Tour. Although I really was ‘hurting’ running up my own slight incline, seeing the images of Cadel ‘s dogged persistence in those Mountains in my head, motivated me to keep going! Surely we can’t be the only strange ones. Surly Cadel’s efforts have ignited passions for sport all over the country, that have resulted in ordinary people getting out and doing some exercise. Isn’t this the current health message that the Australian Government is trying to spread in order to decrease the incidence of weight related health issues? Perhaps Cadel’s example has managed to lengthen  lives or even save them by motivating people to exercise

4. It appears that the major point that Mia wished to make was that other professions such as scientists, and doctors for example, should also be regarded has heroes and reap public adulation in the same manner as the sporting personalities.  I believe this message was a little lost in the original interview amidst banal criticisms of Cadel and sport in general. However, I believe that the people who work tirelessly to help others in any profession should be recognized. However, there is an old saying…

“blowing out someone else’s candle does not make your candle burn any brighter. “

I believe publicly testifying that you feel  ‘Blah’ about Cadel for his achievements on the bike, the very morning he made them, was not the best way to make a point about other members of the community being recognized.

As a former cyclist and scientist myself, It was a complete surprise when I saw the comments Mia Freedman made about Cadel on the today show. Enough time has passed to remove the almost raw feelings of shock I felt from her comments, especially since I quite admired and respected her other work. I hope the haters have learnt that there are better ways to present your opinion than being nasty and abusive. As for Mia Freedman, I hope she can get her message across that other members of the community can be recognised, and called heroes, without raining on a sporting hero’s parade.

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