Greater minds than mine, at this newspaper and others, have discussed whether or not it’s such a good idea to publish/broadcast public opinion polls and I say go right to it – but with two provisos:
1. Who paid for the poll?
2. In what order were the questions asked and what were they?
For instance, let’s say a public opinion poll is issued (and with the 24-hour news cycle on radio, TV, newspapers and the Internet demanding non-stop content, I guarantee just about anything will get published/broadcast somewhere these days) and it suggests (no poll ever proves anything; it’s a snapshot of a moment in time) that a majority of people don’t think the construction of a new speedway in the Niagara peninsula is a good idea.
(I’m making this up, remember.)
Chances are that the poll was commissioned, and paid for, by people who don’t want such a speedway to be built. And the way they rig the result is that the questions start out relatively neutral but as they get closer and closer to the subject of the poll, they become more alarming, to wit:
"Are you aware that automobile racing is bad for the environment?" (No, actually; I wasn’t.)
"Are you aware that automobile racing can result in death and/or injury to the participants? (Well, uh, yeah, maybe.)
"Did you know that if a new speedway is built that the sky will fall right down on your head and knock you out?" (Holy cow!)
"Do you think construction of a new speedway in the Niagara peninsula is a good idea?" (Hell, NO!)
So all you read in the papers or on the web or hear on radio and TV is that a majority of people don’t want a new speedway to be built. Nobody – or very few, anyway – tells you the rest.
I’m bringing this up today because there’s a new poll out in Germany in which nearly half of all German sports fans (they only ever ask a couple of people, by the way, and apply the statistic to the general population) think that Michael Schumacher should not sign another contract to race for Mercedes.
Yes, 47.2 per cent of the sample said he should call it a day after the third season of his comeback.
Apparently, just 32.2 per cent said he should continue to race in 2013 while 8.5 per cent said he should move to the German Touring Car Championship and race there with his brother Ralf.
What a strange poll, particularly since the old warrior has driven two excellent races the last two times out, finishing fifth both times.
So where did it come from?
Is this the work of Mercedes F1 team boss Ross Braun, who maybe doesn’t want the seven-time world champion to continue in 2013?
Maybe Mercedes itself is behind it. Perhaps the company, celebrating 125 years of automobile development this season, would like Schuey to move on so they can hire Sebastien Vettel?
Or maybe the people who run the DTM commissioned it. I mean, they have all those rejects from F1 racing there now. Maybe they think it would be a good idea to get somebody into a car who could actually still race.
Whatever. Somebody commissioned that poll – but for what purpose?
It didn’t just come out of the blue.
I’ve always thought that Michael Schumacher was pushed out of the sport the first time he retired. I’d "suggest" it’s starting to happen again.