Controlling the Narrative (Part 2) #Armstrong

RtoP 1The second part of the Oprah Winfrey interview with Lance Armstrong was televised this afternoon on the Discovery Channel.

I am relieved that this part of the story has concluded.

I thought Oprah Winfrey was outstanding in her role and I admired the way she dealt with some very significant personal issues for Lance Armstrong in a sensitive way. Richard Hines has taken a much different view of Oprah.

The conversation touched upon ‘invincibility’, ‘belief’, ‘trust’, ‘love’ and ‘truth’.

Hanging over this conversation was the reality of ‘digital remembering’. The “Just Layin’ Around” picture was discussed as an example of the on-going story … and the video record of the interview itself.

Greg Baum wrote today:

Great sportsmen and women ask us to take them on trust … But Armstrong is different. He did not just ask to be taken on trust, he demanded, loudly, menacingly, shrilly, repeatedly. He bullied others into preserving that trust. He hurt them, and says only now does he realise how much. He lied for that trust, in sworn testimony, on the winner’s podium at the Tour de France, in dozens of depositions.

My overwhelming feeling after the two interviews is that there are universal values each of us can uphold. The degree of fame or infamy does not change the commitment to these values. I see honesty and humility as keys to this commitment. I thought Nicole Cooke‘s retirement statement embodied these and offered a window on one person’s journey through elite cycling.

When I read this part of her statement:

I have had days where temptation to start onto the slippery slope was brought in front of me. [In one race] I was asked what “medicines” I would like to take to help me, and was reminded that the team had certain expectations of me during the race and I was not living up to them with my performance over the last couple of stages. I said I would do my best until I had to drop out of the race, but I was not taking anything.

I was reminded of the Robert Frost The Road Not Taken:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

I am hopeful that the primacy of ethical standards (rather than a biological passport) makes the Road Not Taken the main highway.

Photo Credit

Frame Grab from Road to Paris

Engines Started: Responses to David Crawford's Review of Australian Sport

The publication of the Independent Panel’s Review of Australian Sport has stimulated enormous discussion. Yesterday I linked to the publication of the report. This post looks at some of the responses in the last twenty-four hours.

This was the Google News graphic at 7.00 p.m. EST on 19 November.

John Coates argued the case for funding Olympic sports in an article in The Australian. This was a report of his initial response to the Crawford Report and this an ABC report of his response (the ABC report includes video and audio items). The Australian Olympic Committee has appointed a study group to examine the Crawford Report.

Sally Robbins argues strongly for Olympic funding. The Canberra Times cites Cadel Evans, Anna Mears an Ken Wallace as supporters of Government funding for Olympic sports. This is an article in The Age expressing Cycling Australia’s concerns. This ABC post notes Archery Australia’s concerns. Wally Mason observes that “Clearly federal funding does not come out of a bottomless pit and every Olympic medal comes at a cost. It is a cost most of us are prepared to pay.” Andrew Southcott‘s response to the Report indicates that a Top 10 Olympics’ finish is not good enough.

Simon Crean was reported as observing that Australia’s sporting success was “a fundamental part of the Australian brand”. Jacquelin Magnay discussed the Report’s recommendation about the format of the Australian Sports Commission’s Board. In an earlier article she argued that the “sport panel has totally misread the nation’s love of the Olympics and the pride of beating bigger countries on the international stage.” Her first article summarises the Report’s main recommendations. This a video segment from athletes supporting funding for elite sport. This ABC post explores the ‘contentious nature’ of the Report. This ABC post reports the publication of the Crawford Report. This is the Canberra Times’ report of the publication under the headline ‘A sporting nation divided’.

Nicole Jeffrey notes that not all of the Crawford Report have been challenged. She notes that the Olympic sports have welcomed the recommendation that “the national sports federations should have primary responsibility for development of their own high-performance programs”. The sports have welcome statements about physical education in the national curriculum and the provision of funds to build sporting facilities. An ABC post noted that ‘Big Codes welcome Crawford Report‘. John Alexander argues that the “key to our health care costs which are crippling is preventative medicine in the form of physical activity. Australia needs a renaissance of our lost culture of the fun and exhilaration we enjoyed through active participation in sports.” Mike Hurst notes the importance of fitness in schools.

An editorial in The Age suggests that:

Australians will celebrate any gold medal won in 2012, even if it is in a sport they never think of between Olympics and even if it is won by someone they have not previously heard of and might never hear of again. Nor can anyone begrudge individual athletes their success. But, as the report notes, the present system funds such success at the rate of $15 million per gold medal. The nation’s self-esteem is surely neither so low nor so brittle as to require this level of investment, and it is money that in some instances could be more wisely spent. A shift to funding high-participation sports at grassroots levels might not result in the same surge of collective euphoria every four years, but it would contribute in a more sustained fashion to national wellbeing.

In the same paper, Greg Baum posits “Here is the nub. The Crawford report implies what we will say outright, that it would be poor reflection of our maturity as a nation if we continued to live and die exclusively by our Olympic medal tally.”

Richard Hinds argues that the AOC gravy train plan doesn’t have wheels. He concludes that when the Federal cabinet meets to discuss the response to the Report “In their hands will be a document that has the potential to prompt much- needed change in the impact sports funding has on the everyday lives of Australians – not just for those 16 chest-beating days every four years.” In an earlier article Richard Hinds observes that “It remains to be seen if the Crawford Report will be successful in its laudable intentions: to ensure government spending leads to increased grassroots participation, greater inclusiveness, the restoration of physical education in schools, a positive impact on public health and to improve and empower poorly administered sports.” Dan Silkstone explores the Report’s focus on participation sports and in another article discusses the gold medal stoush.

Ruth Brown, Charlie Happell and Trevor Cook provided a Crikey view of the Crawford report.

There have been some interesting comments in response to web based articles. As of 7.30 p.m. (EST) on 19 November, for example, there were 25 comments on John Coates’ article. One of these poses a question about the impact of investment in elite sport: “Has the advent of the funding of elite sport in Australia improved the health of young Australians over what it would have been without this funding? If so, it is money well spent. If not, then monies should be focused on participation rather than excellence. Before 100 million is given, this should be answered unemotionally and convincingly.”

Postscript

Some links from 20 November via Peter Logue: a Sydney Morning Herald post by Malcolm Maiden and an interview with David Crawford on Radio National.

Australia Talks (Radio National) discussed the Crawford report 19 November