Performance Narratives

I am back in Australia after a visit to Germany.

On my return I have come across three different resources to fuel my interest in performance narratives.

1. Team BMC

James Bennett has posted a great article on the Drum website. In a post titled Cadel Evans and the Armstrong parallels, James points out:

  • Cadel Evans’s references to how he structured this year’s season around the Tour de France sounds like what another guy who was good at winning Le Tour used to say.
  • Lance Armstrong changed professional cycling by focussing exclusively on riding to win just one race a year (albeit the biggest race of the year).
  • He did that with the backing of his directeur sportif, Johan Bryneel, who created a squad of riders whose sole objective was to drag Lance around France, because he believed that Lance could win the race.
  • Evans joined forces with American Jim Ochowitz. He  is an Olympian who founded the first ever American-backed cycling team, 7-Eleven in 1981. It then became Motorolla after a change of sponsor, and was Lance Armstrong’s entrée into the European peloton in 1992.
  •  In an interview with the ABC this week, Jim Ochowitz repeats the single-minded mantra Lance wrote about in his best-selling book, It’s not about the bike. “We’re only here for one reason and that is to race for Cadel,” Ochowitz says.

I liked in particular the point Jim made in his interview:  BMC has “Tour-winning experience to call on”.

  • George Hincapie, was Lance Armstrong’s right hand man, safeguarding the Texan through the incessant bumping and jostling for position in the peloton. Now the American veteran is using his vast tactical experience (this is Hincapie’s 16th Tour de France – equalling the record set by Belgian Joop Zoetemelk) to shepherd Evans through the race.
  • In the Tour’s first week, which traversed the often windy flatlands and rolling hills of northern France, it was Hincapie who rode in front of Cadel Evans, keeping him well positioned and safe from a nervous peloton as crashes ended the hopes of many touted as contenders for this year’s race.

2. Hawks’ Huddle

Adam Simpson talks through a Quarter Time Huddle for the Hawks. I found this a fascinating discussion of the practice of information sharing.

3. A Different View of the Tour de France

Sport involves a great deal of ritual. I think this video from Remi Gaillard has some interesting insights into Tour de France rituals.

Photo Credit

Tourwinnaar Lucien Petit-Breton

Joel: Private Troubles and Public Issues

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about R U OK Day. I have received some very kind comments about the post and the sentiments expressed in it.

I have been thinking about the issues the post raised yesterday and today as the story of Joel Monaghan has exploded in the digital media. I was interviewed by a researcher from PRIME about Joel’s behaviour and I thought I would use this post to make the points I made to her.

  1. Regardless of the behaviour exhibited by Joel the publication of the story has enormous outcomes for Joel’s well-being.
  2. He is a remarkable rugby player who behaved in a way that most of us would not behave. From now on he is THE player in THAT photograph. All his commitment and skill will be trivialised and he will be the butt of taunts.
  3. The behaviour that took place appeared to be in a private residence. Discussions about a Raiders’ player have to be put in the context of the location.
  4. The photograph that forms the basis of the story was taken by someone and there may have been other people in the room. These people were ‘friends’ of Joel.
  5. The behaviour occurred on a ‘mad Monday’.

The viral story about Joel is replete with statements of revulsion and a statement on behalf of Joel by his manager. The R U OK part of me acknowledges the gravity of what occurred but raises questions about the duty of care we owe to each other.

I wondered:

  • If many people commenting on the behaviour are conscious of and honest about their own fallibility.
  • If the NRL and the Raiders could transform madness into happiness hereon. Rather than ending a season in such a mad way what if the game celebrated with its communities and then left each player to celebrate in privacy.
  • Highly trained athletes are vulnerable to binge drinking and we should find ways to manage their risks.
  • Viral media are viral! The use of the photograph on Twitter and other web sites confirms with unforgiving permanence that there is a fragile link between private troubles and public issues.
  • Joel is described as a Raiders player in all the media accounts. I think we must be clear about identity. At some point each of us acts as a private citizen and accepts the consequences of our actions. If the events around Joel’s story are located within an organised Raiders’ event in Raiders’ premises then we are involved in a different story.

I am absolutely clear that what occurred is repulsive and in my own case unthinkable. My R U OK sense leads me to support a person who will face a desperate struggle to manage his own identity and the stigma of what occurred. Joel is a person from a culture where appalling acts do occur and that become the subject of selective indignation.

When I was asked by the PRIME researcher what I thought this did for Joel as a role model I asked her to think of it as a reciprocal relationship … all of us have a part in role modelling. Most people will be reviled by what occurred but it occurred in a private space with Joel’s friends around him and has been shared globally with people who can choose to have compassion as well as loathing.

Each time a mad behaviour occurs we all think we can learn from it and do something about it. I believe we must not normalise or condone this behaviour but we must be real about personal fallibility that is now shared in a public way.

The ACT Government is being asked to legislate about the behaviour exhibited in a moment of madness by someone who gave the community so much joy in his role as a rugby player. R We OK about our part in this story?


Joel left the Raiders on Tuesday, 9 November. This is an ABC report of his press statement. Louise Maher has written a post for The Drum on the topic of Joel’s behaviour.

Photo Credit

Into the Light

On Filters and Censorship in Australia

This post started out as an attempt to use WordPress’s new email feature. I was writing from early morning Mongarlowe in rural New South Wales when my Internet access froze and I managed to lose my email post! Events seemed appropriate given the topic of this post.

Two posts in recent days have caught my attention in the discussion of the proposed filter (censorship) of Internet content in Australia. The first was by Josh Mehlman on the ABC’s Drum Unleashed entitled Filter opponents: change tactics or fail. The second was by Senator Kate Lundy Further thoughts on the filter. Both posts have drawn a large amount of comments and discussion (Josh’s post has 126 comments at the time of writing this post and Senator Lundy 118 comments).

I thought Josh’s post was insightful and informative and exemplified some of the exciting space available to contributors to The Drum. I thought Senator Lundy’s post was an impressive synthesis of discussions stimulated by her first post on the filter (censorship). I think she has displayed enormous courage in stimulating the debate an exploring her own position on these matters in a blog that has the subtitle Taking Australia forward with openness and vision.

Both posts encouraged me to think about a non zero sum solution to filtering and censoring. I wondered if the debate could acknowledge the diversity of views without creating folk devils and moral panics. What if we could accommodate each other? What if opting in and opting out were indicators of an informed, sensitive society that celebrated openness in a world that needs our connectedness?

I am off to reread Josh’s post to reflect on his advice about advocacy and then on to Seth Simonds’ post Bye with a Warmly Huggs to learn more about pitching.