It is not often that sports commentators go close to eclipsing Bruce McAvaney and Brian Taylor for awkwardness and stupidity, but the Olympic rowing commentary surpassed it with ease the other night. It was characterised by ridiculous armchair psychology, non-sequiturs and stories that seemed to go nowhere. But even that paled into insignificance compared to News Corp coverage of the Campbell sisters’ 100m freestyle final.
This isn’t the first time I have been critical of the Murdoch press for their hysterical sensationalism and it certainly won’t be the last. And I’ll agree that other news outlets are also guilty of a similarly poor journalism (for want of a better word), but in case you think I have an axe to grind, this is the headline for the article the Courier Mail:
“Australia’s Rio Olympic campaign rocked to the core after a horror day of results.”
That doesn’t sound good. I hope everyone is ok. I needn’t have worried.
Similar headlines were found in other News Corp rags, such as the Mercury, but- believe it or not- this article is actually just about the fact that neither of the Campbell sisters won a medal in the 100m freestyle final. Anyone calling that a tragedy or a disaster needs to get some perspective because there are plenty of real tragedies happening in front of us (perhaps they haven’t heard of the Nauru files?).
And what a ridiculously unfair way to treat the swimmers themselves who would be admittedly disappointed but were both self-aware enough to treat the occasion with far greater maturity than the press. Each swimmer gave it their all and came up short. That happens in sport sometimes. Athletes move on and prepare for their next event. This attitude that anything other than winning is a failure cheapens the entire event.