In 2008, I was in the media room at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal when Robert Kubica won his first Formula One race.
There were, I would estimate, about 100 reporters from around the world in that press centre at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve.
As Kubica crossed the finish line, most of those 100 reporters started to clap, whistle and cheer.
I was sitting beside my Toronto Star colleague, Gerald Donaldson who was working for TSN at the time. Dean McNulty of the Toronto Sun wasn’t far away. We were about the only three in that room who didn’t show emotion.
I can’t speak for the others, but I was pleased to see Kubica win. It was his maiden victory in the top auto racing series on the planet and a year earlier he’d survived one of the most wicked crashes in modern F1 history at that very track, so it was a great comeback story.
But one of the things you learn early on in North America is that whether you’re covering hockey, baseball, football, golf, racing — what have you — you do not outwardly cheer for your team/favourite player. It’s considered poor form and an indication of bias. You cannot be seen as objective if every time your team scores/wins you jump up and down with excitement.
So you do it silently . . .
I’m telling you this today because Sports Illustrated dot com (SI.com) just fired one of its reporters for cheering the victory of Trevor Bayne at the recent Daytona 500.
He’s written a post about it on his own website (this is the link, if you’re interested) and acknowledges that he probably shouldn’t have done it but was carried away by the emotion of the moment.
I sympathize with the guy, because I know how he must have felt when that kid won that big race. But he shouldn’t have done it because that North American tradition (see above) extends beyond the press room and into the board room, where media executives worry about appearances and reputations.
It’s different in Europe. If you’re ever in a press box at a European soccer game, you think you’re in the middle of the grandstands. Reporters are cheering, arguing — you name it, they’re doing it. They freely (and cheerfully) acknowledge pulling for their city’s or their country’s team. And their reporting reflects it.
Same with the motorsports reporters. The British writers, in particular, make no excuses for focusing almost exclusively on British drivers or drivers who race for British teams. It’s what they’re paid to do.
So that was my first reaction when I heard that this American reporter had been bounced by SI for his outward display of enthusiasm for Trevor Bayne’s victory: too bad he didn’t cover F1. Or Old Country Soccer.
But he didn’t and now he’s had to pay for it.
It’s a grim reminder for everybody else: if your driver, or your team, wins, keep your hands in your pockets and your lips sealed.
Wait till you get home to celebrate.
TAGLIANI TEAM SOLD
Although it’s a bit of a tangled web, in that I thought there had been one sale of this team already, the news today is that Alex Tagliani’s FAZZT racing team that competes in the IZOD IndyCar Series has been taken over by Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
Here is a link to the story.
NASCAR VETERANS TO RACE AT FLAMBORO
Flamboro Speedway near Hamilton will celebrate its 50th anniversary this summer and to mark the occasion, a special Race of Champions will be held there on July 1, Canada Day, and feature three NASCAR legends.
Jimmy Spencer, Ken Schrader and Sterling Marlin will join a field of local competitors to compete in a main event featuring the Freedom Village Thunder Car class — a division known for full-contact racing.
The afternoon event will be a special race format, including heat-race qualifying and a B-feature race that will advance only the top 15 finishers to join the NASCAR stars for a 25-lap shootout.
Sounds exciting, doesn't it?
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