I need to apologize for my actions from a couple of nights ago. I was using the social media platform Twitter when a prominent ex-racer pointed out that I have a personality flaw. To my surprise another well know person in cycling agreed with that statement and then followed up by saying I was the reason cycling wasn’t taken seriously. I then saw several comments on Twitter that only threw gas onto the fire. Admittedly at that moment I wasn’t taking the sport seriously. I sat there in the glow of my iMac, beer in hand, laughing at the Bacchanalian party that had erupted with this 140 character discussion. As I retired for the evening I couldn’t help but think about those statements. Had I just ruined cycling?
I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, concerned for the Giro D’ Italia. Would the Italian national tour be canceled because of my off the cuff comments? Had I failed to realize the power of my blog, Twitter account and Facebook account?
I awoke the next morning and thankfully the Giro was continuing, but it is still nagged at me – was I ruining a sport that was over a 100 years old? Were my sometimes snarky comments going to implode the sport I love? I needed to investigate how other media people covered sports. What I discovered was shocking.
While cycling is filled with armchair quarterbacks and respected journalists who pointed out the good and bad of cycling, no other sport was being treated this way. Journalists and bloggers of other sports displayed the utmost respect for their athletes. Baseball and football commentators are prime examples of only highlighting the positives in their sports and would no-way make light of a situation. I couldn’t find one comment that accused a commentator of being the reason why their sport wasn’t being taken seriously.
So after much soul searching I came to realize I was indeed the person to blame for why the sport of cycling wasn’t being taken seriously. While my Twitter feed is often filled with comments about honey badgers, squirrels and beer drinking, wedged in there were often biting 140 character statements questioning certain unsavory aspects of the sport and mocking them.
As I write this I’m looking at the note Bill Strickland penned into a copy of his book Tour de Lance. I had asked for a copy and the Bicycling Magazine editor was kind enough to oblige and write inside, “To Neil – who loves the sport enough to remember to laugh at it. Don’t ever change.” I’m sorry Bill, but I can’t afford to laugh at this sport we both love. People like me, who take a lighthearted approach, will ultimately bring it down. Snarkiness is a silent killer. For that I apologize.