Posts Tagged ‘The Guardian’

A baroque idiocy

July 13, 2012

I read this sentence yesterday:

“You would need to be on weapons-grade hallucinogens to be able to discern the vaguest connection between athletic competition and the baroque idiocy of the sponsorship circus.”

Obviously, it is saying:

“You would have to be on drugs to think there is any meaningful connection between sport and corporate sponsorship of the Olympics.”

But the deeply unfunny combination of words has so many bells and whistles that it becomes what it mocks. The sentence is, in itself, a baroque idiocy.

This is another reason why I think Marina Hyde is a whistling fart.

Let’s all have a look at how much coverage Cav’s move to Sky got in this morning’s papers.

October 12, 2011

Yesterday on Twitter, The Inner Ring mused thusly:

“Whilst we’re all going, ‘Yeah, so what’, millions of ordinary TV viewers and newspaper readers will get the Cav to Sky story today/tomorrow. It’s these people whom most team sponsors count on in order to justify their investment in a team, reaching households across Europe and beyond.”

This got me thinking. Yes, the papers will all run the story, but would the British newspaper readers of tomorrow (i.e. literally tomorrow, not some undefined point in the future – d’ya get me, yeh?) even notice it? Because it’s not as if he won a race or anything, and the move was widely reported in various sports pages months before yesterday’s official announcement. They might not give it any prominence, which would be a shame for the team’s sponsors, because as Mr Ring points out, they require the exposure. Then tomorrow (i.e. today) came along and I was able to find out for myself, via my eyes and – let’s not forget – my hands, which helped turn the correct pages. I really couldn’t have done it without these guys, and they did an incredible job.

Anyhoo, the good news is that (clockwise from top left) The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Independent all gave the story half a page. Perhaps not coincidentally, all of them also had a half-page ad for Team Sky and British Cycling underneath.

Which raises two questions: would all four broadsheets have given as much prominence to the story if Sky hadn’t paid for a large-ish ad which complements the editorial? And, less importantly, don’t you think the layout of the pages – Cav on top, Wiggins below – unwittingly suggests what may be the billing of the two Sky men next year?

The redtops all buried the story to varying extents at the back of their sports pages. The Sun, owned by Cavendish’s new paymasters, had the largest of the smaller stories, giving it seven paragraphs plus a pic at the top of page 67. The Mirror has four pars and a headshot of Cav at the bottom of page 56, while the Daily Star, masters of economy, managed to convey the news in a mere 65 words on page 49.

You could say that the prominence each paper gave to the story reflects its readership’s interest in cycling. But look at the Daily Mail – next to the paper’s brief, 80-word story on page 76 is a ragout of its June exclusive, “GB DREAM TEAM, Cavendish in shock move to join Wiggins.”

It was a page lead – perhaps the strongest indication that Cav’s move would’ve got bigger coverage this time round had the story not dragged on for four months.

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #18

September 23, 2011

5 UP Evolta the Panasonic robot
What’s an Ironman? It’s just a marathon, sandwiched between a swim and a run. Anyone could do it. Sure, you’d take much, much longer to reach the finish line than someone who thinks sleeveless jerseys are more a way of life than an ill-advised wardrobe decision, but hey – you’d get there eventually, you’d have a never-to-be-repeated personal best, and ultimately doing it is what really counts, right? Of course it is. Which is why non-triathletes all over the world should be inspired by little Evolta, the foot-high Japanese robo-child who announced on Sunday that he’ll be doing the 230km Hawaii Ironman next month over the course of a week, powered by nothing more than three triple-A batteries. Yes, his bike has stabilisers, but at least he doesn’t have two bottles parked next to his bottom like his dorky human counterparts. And unlike Evolta, we bet none of them have ever scaled the Grand Canyon, cycled the Le Mans 24-hour course, and had a Banzai!-style short film made about them. Ironmen: out-awesomed by a tiny plastic boy. The shame of it.

4 DOWN Shred West
There we were on Sunday in our famous soundproof bunker, watching Mark Cavendish blast past four riders to win the final stage of the Tour of Britain, when a question occurred to us: is this the first time that ITV4 co-presenter Yanto Barker has been involved in the world of sportscasting? So we googled him and… er, hold on. That’s a joke, right? Surely no one would actually give their magazine a title that’s a pun on the name of a serial murderer? Well, apparently so: mountain bike mag Shred really did produce an offshoot publication called – yes! – Shred West, one issue of which features Yanto on the cover. Killer concept, fellas!

3 DOWN Penny-farthings
It’s probably the fastest-growing type of bike racing in the country (on the basis that barely anyone can ride them, so just a few more participants represents a huge percentage jump) but the BBC had some bad news on Wednesday for eager daredevils looking to become a penny-farthing racer: Leicestershire firm Cycle Magic has sold out of its first batch. Although with only three races a year in the UK, you’ve got probably got enough time to wait for the second load. Hurrah!

2 DOWN Surrey Police
Red faces all round for Surrey police, which last week provided a perfect lesson in how not to do community policing. Commenting on Cycling Weekly’s story on the force’s questionable response to the increased popularity of cycling in the area, Inspector Terri Poulton apologised on Friday for “blunt” and “inappropriate” leaflets handed out to riders around Box Hill threatening them with a £1,000 fine if they rode without due care and attention. Insp. Poulton revealed that the ungrammatical notices were “produced by a local officer who genuinely thought it would be helpful. We live and learn!” Let’s hope so…

1 UP Friendliness
As a counterpoint to the heavy-handedness of coppers in Mole Valley, a pleasing snippet from Tuesday’s Guardian: membership of cycling clubs in Britain has increased by more than 10 per cent during the last two years, taking the total to 82,000. But what clever marketing tools have those devious pedallers used to increase their numbers? Why, if it wasn’t those familiar bedfellows of friendliness and inclusiveness. If only they were not so happy and welcoming, then club runs might not be as well-attended, and motorists would be less likely to complain to the Surrey police force about having to slow down. Damn you, friendly cyclists!

The DYNAMITE! Five: The week in cycling, remixed. Issue #9

July 1, 2011

5 UP “Jen, London”
Stories in the Daily Mail that are reasonably sympathetic to cyclists are rarer than a tweet in the Fablish tongue that doesn’t take less than half-a-dozen reads to fully understand – so there was some surprise in The DYNAMITE! Files’ famous soundproof bunker on Thursday when we came across the tale of the dad-of-two allegedly cut up by a police car. But was Paul Brown of Hull as blameless as he makes out? He appears to have gone straight to the Mail instead of complaining to the police, and the inconclusive screengrabs taken from his helmet-cam footage have triggered a blizzard of amateur sleuthing in the comments section. The most Monk-like theory comes from “Jen, London”, who asks: “Does he look like an amateur cyclist? NO. Obviously you cannot judge by image alone, but being a cyclist myself you don’t wear expesive [sic] lycras [sic], cleats and ride a road racer if you’re going to sit in the middle of the road.” So there you have it: a Daily Mail reader who can use the word “lycra” without following it with “lout”. Although if she sees one of those non-amateurs next week, she’ll probably wonder why they’re not doing that big race in France.

4 UP Pigeons
As the excellent Inner Ring noted on Tuesday, television coverage of the Tour de France killed off the inventive, hyperbolic and often fictional manner of newspaper reporting associated with cycling’s golden age. If that grand tradition of making things up in flowery language is to make a comeback, there would have to be a sporting event that TV cameras cannot practicably access, such as a race across France where all the competitors are, say, pigeons – and as luck would have it, that’s exactly what is happening this week. See how they soar above mountains! Watch them reach speeds of up to 110mph! Except you can’t. So it’s down to students of Antoine Blondin and Henri Desgrange to unleash their powers of invention. Gentlemen, only you can transform the descendents of Speckled Jim into heroes of legend!

3 UP Bob Kemp
Interesting if somewhat far-fetched “facts” department: by next summer, every man, woman and child in Britain will have appeared in a newspaper or TV report moaning about not being able to get tickets to the Olympics, even if they didn’t apply in the first place – so hats off to the Daily Telegraph for breaking the mood of perpetual disgruntlement with Monday’s lighthearted story about Chris Hoy’s father-in-law Bob Kemp. Thrilled Bob noticed that an amount equal to the cost of four tickets for the velodrome had been taken from his account – and it was only after excitedly planning the trip down to London that he realised “Olympian Seats”, the name that appeared on his statement, was actually a store he had been to. “He got four seats alright,” said Hoy. “Four garden seats.”

2 DOWN The Cervélo S5
The unveiling of the S5 aero road bike on Wednesday prompted this expert appraisal from Cycling Weekly’s Mike Hawkins: “Regular Cervélo admirers will already understand the design language the Canadian frame manufacturer has used, as it borrows much from the P4 time trial machine.” Hmm… design language, you say? Well, as the predominantly text-based appearance of this blog shows, The DYNAMITE! Files is far from fluent in the language of design, so we are in no way fit to pass comment on the opinion that the bike is, aesthetically, a bit rubbish. But wouldn’t it be obvious even if you hadn’t ever seen a P4 that the S5 is essentially a time trial frame with drop bars? Coming next week in CW: how you must be fluent in the language of the French people to know that a restaurant is a place where you eat food and a bidon is something you shove in your gob when thirsty.

1 DOWN David Millar
He’s reinvented himself as an anti-doping advocate – and now reformed EPO user David Millar has inadvertently demonstrated the dangers of another easily available substance after he revealed exactly what he thinks of former teammate Bradley Wiggins. With the demon drug alcohol still in his system following the boozy launch of his autobiography, the hungover Garmin-Cervélo man told The Guardian’s Donald McRae that Wiggins’ lack of leadership skills has left Sky “pretty f***ed” and he would be “very surprised if [Wiggins] made the top 10 of the Tour again”. Ouch! Compare Millar’s admirably frank appraisal with his more circumspect verdict on Wiggo published the day before in the Independent (“I think the top 10 is realistic”) and the lesson becomes clear: don’t swig anything stronger than PSP22 the night before a big interview.

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