An Open Letter to Mia Freedman
No you're not on the wrong site. It is unusual for us to be talking about sport on theClover but being a fan of the Tour de France I got a bit swept up in the Mia Freedman debate about sport stars being heroes. You can see her post here.
When I saw your tweet about Cadel the other morning, saying something to the effect that you get it we all love Cadel I thought to myself 'oh goodness what has she said?' So despite the fact that I never watch the Today show, I had a look at it online. It is unfortunate that you innocently didn't realise that not only did you upset a sporting nation but also several hundred very tired cycling fans. Many of us have had three weeks of sleepless nights, cheering on our very own 'Aussie Battler'. This was the main reason I wanted a public holiday, so we could all get some sleep.
I understand that you 'don't get' Australia's obsession and hero worship of sports stars, I'm not sure I really do either some of the time. I agree that sports stars are worshiped in ways that are bizarre and not very healthy, especially ones of questionable character. Cadel Evans is quite the opposite of that and I'm sure if you read his book that was offered to you, you might begin to see why sports fans have a soft spot for him.
Cycling is a unique sport and Le Tour de France is a very grueling event, possibly the most physically and emotionally demanding sporting event in the world. I'm sure lots of folks have tried to explain this to you since your unfortunate segment on the Today show.
Australians have been there for several years watching Cadel struggle and fight his own battles, both physical and emotional and I think that is where some regular folks can relate to him. Maybe he hasn't made an important medical discovery or dedicated his life to the eradication of poverty, but he has fought his own personal demons and often times on an international arena. Sure maybe Cadel's not your hero but as sporting heroes go, I think he's a good one to have. He works hard, lives a quiet life and gives generously to charities that are close to his heart.
For an Australian to win the Tour is an amazing thing and worth getting excited about. Why not? People get excited about all kinds of things that take less effort or talent- Master Chef, Biggest Loser, State of Origin, the Oscars.
People get over excited about all kinds of things but who are we to judge? It is sad that everyday heroes don't get the kind of attention Cadel received over the last few days but that shouldn't take away from the adoration he deserves. Some people love shopping and fashion and many of the people around them don't understand what all the excitement is about. To each their own I guess.
As for Cadel living in Europe and not Australia? Well he couldn't have advanced in his profession if he lived here during the cycling season, just like many other professionals have to move to have their dream job.
I'm sorry that the twittersphere hurt your feelings, there is no excuse for mean spirited behavior. I also appreciate your willingness to be open about the topic and how you don't understand us sports fans. It does leave me wondering if anyone has been able to explain it all to you in a manner that helps you to see what all the fuss is about? I really enjoyed Bridie O'Donnell's open letter.
As I watched some footage of Cadel on SBS a couple nights ago and saw his wife take him in her arms and hold onto him tightly I began to see one of the great things about the Tour. The cyclists are quite often alone facing their demons, and in this case concurring them. Many people face demons of their own and unfortunately there are battles far worse than climbing the alps in a three week bike race by choice. Alcoholism, drug addiction, cancer and also horrific mistakes made every day that have devastating consequences. But if this sporting event inspires some people to overcome the obstacles in their own lives and rejoice in the arms of someone who loves them then so be it.
I do have my own question about the race. I am left to wonder about the carbon foot print of such an event? It must be mind blowing.
Photo: © AFP