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Letters to Cyclingnews April 5, 2001
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Just a short batch today, starting with congratulations for Scott Sunderland from Michael Brideson. We were all very happy to see Scott in the money at Brabantse Pijl it looks like he's well recovered from his injuries.
Dave Walsh has some more facts about foot and mouth disease in Ireland, pointing out that the disease is, so far, very much not a problem, and the Irish would like it to stay that way.
Martin Pearce has some thoughts on women's cycling, balancing the desire for equality with the practicalities of the current 'market' for racing.
Our ongoing discussion of the nature of sport continues, with Tyler Ellis asking why golf and chess are not Olympic sports. Lots of sports are not included in the Olympics, for many reasons. The most common recent reason is that there's simply no room left in the Games for another sport. Olympic status is not a reliable indicator of what is or isn't a sport.
Todd Doherty has some thoughts about the differences between cycling and golf, and his personal definition of sport.
Dan Bailey points out that arena sports like American football involve 'hurting oneself to hurt others' just as much as does cycling. I don't think I'll be trying his suggested experiment any time soon though.
Christopher James Clarke is excited at the prospect of being able to play at being a directeur sportif on his computer. To fill in the details he asks for, Cycling Manager will be available for Windows PCs, and we understand the developer is looking to include real teams, though the necessary deals have yet to be signed.
Please pass on congratulations to Scott Sunderland after his second placing in the Brabantse Pijl. It's encouraging to hear of his recent successes, and I'm looking forward to his next diary entry.
I would like to back up Andrew Torrance's critique of Peter D. Ashley's comment on Ireland being already being infected with foot and mouth. At this point in time, there are only two confirmed cases on the island - one in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and one, a few miles south, just over the border in County Louth. This is hardly comparable with the UK which has, up to Tuesday April 3, 991 cases. If there were widespread infection, Ireland would have a lot to lose, so it's heartening to see everyone cooperating with restrictions and prevention. Even doctor's surgeries and shops have disinfectant mats, as do sign-ons and car parks at races. Road racing restarted last week - mountain bike races are still off, obviously.
Valerie Rushworth has provided an excellent lesson in history. It's always good to know how your sport has developed and who has driven its success. Making teams pay equal salary and making organisers pay equal prize money is at this point not the way to go. It would actually be detrimental to the development of the sport: fewer teams would exist and promoters would not organise women's racing as it would not be financially viable to do so. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that raising the salaries to the level of men's cycling salaries will bring more elite athletes to the sport.
Maybe implementing a higher minimum salary is the way to go, but this would have to be considered in perspective to the number of races and length of the races which determines how much a rider has to work. A higher minimum salary, one that would sustain a rider to live and work for the year would certainly increase numbers as fewer riders would have to struggle when they start. Most give up because the struggle is too great. All other salaries should then be negotiated between the rider and the team based upon the finances of the team and the rider's worth.
There is a difference between over-compensating an individual and compensating fairly. Maybe equality lies in this basic principal. If you take the minimum men's salary, factor in what that rider has to do for his employer for the year that is, number of races, length of races, training kilometers done for preparation, equipment supplied, personal input by the rider and support given by the team including doctors, physios and masseurs and then factor in living expenses you could come up with the minimum Award Salary to be paid.
If someone said to me that women professionals prepare exactly the same way as the men with the same intensity and duration of training for the season I would say 'look up the word reality in the Oxford'. Zabel did 17,000-odd kilometers before Milan San Remo, I would like for anyone to tell me that they did the same or more preparation for the women's race which is less than 130km I think.
I would also like to say that women in sport can achieve anything if they are support by other women (and men). In my experience as a promoter and club official, when it came for local female elite cyclists to stand up and be counted by helping promote their sport, supporting other female cyclists who had just entered the sport, encouraging females to take up the sport and helping find sponsors... I got left high and dry and lost a substantial amount of personal finance, time and effort. What was the end result? I stopped organising womens cycling events.
If Golf and Chess are sports and supposedly harder than cycling why are they not Olympic sports?
There are several layers to this assertion. First, let's look at the question of an individual's ability to complete 18 holes of golf on a championship course with no instruction. The answer is, yes, one could. The question is not in the ability to do it, but rather the quality of play that would result. Just as the average person could indeed take a leisurely roll around a city block.
Further, if the question is, could one be competitive in a tournament with no instruction, or practice, the answer, is not likely. Nor could an uninitiated, untrained, average person hope to compete in a bicycle race with any real expectation of success.
I, like many, participate in both activities. However, the sense of satisfaction, and sheer enjoyment I get from cycling far outdistances any I get from golf, or any of the numerous other activities I pursue. To me, there's no comparison between the two.
Finally, a personal observation about "What is sport?" To me, a sport is an activity that requires athleticism, more so than skill. Whereas, a game requires more skill than athleticism. In this sense, I would classify cycling as a sport, and golf as a game. No offense intended, just my opinion.
While I will not argue that cycling is not a sport, I do take issue with Regis Chapman's implication that arena sports allow you to hurt others without hurting yourself.
There's a reason that American football is slow-paced. It's because it's brutal out there. I'm a former (not pro) wide receiver (for all you non-Americans, this is the guy who heads down or across the field to catch the ball), and I can attest that it hurts you just as much when you lay a good hit on someone else.
Try this. Get a friend who is about 210 pounds. You maybe weigh 180 pounds. Pretend he's a free safety, and you're a wide receiver. You've just made a great catch over the middle and are breaking into your stride. He's waiting for you. You lower your shoulder and go for it.
To simulate this, you and your friend go out in the backyard, get up to a good sprint, and run into each other. Head on.
Now go have a beer to take the edge off and tell me again that you don't intentionally hurt yourself in arena sports.
As a cycling enthusiast, and avid Boogerd and Rabobank fan, I'm really enjoying the thrill of Boogie's renaissance as a top pro this spring, and the continual late development of Dekker as a team leader!
I found your website while searching for some fan sites, and I am so glad that I did! The news, photos and race sections are my favourites, and I always look forward to each daily update after my own ride every afternoon.
The news for today (April 4) hinted at a new cycling management computer game. I ask that you continue to bring news of this game's development over the coming weeks/months, because I for one would be rushing to the shops to buy it. As sad as it seems, dreaming of being directeur sportif of a team like Rabobank is a lifetime ambition (one I probably wont fulfil in real life.)
I have a few questions: what format of computers is it coming out on? Does it include real-life cyclists like Boogie? And, following on from that, real-life teams?
Christopher James Clarke
Does anyone know where I can purchase the old black and white Peugeot cycling jersey? When I say old, I'm referring to the Peugeot jerseys as worn by Stephen Roche and Robert Millar in the early to mid 1980s.
I've contacted a number of cycling clothing suppliers here in Ireland to no avail. If anyone could let me know a supplier's address (and e-mail address), I would be very grateful.
The last month's letters