There seems to be a mass-migration of sportsmen heading to media jobs these days; and some don't have to wait until they've retired to start eating up the newspaper pages. While some columns can make for interesting reading, most are rather dull and don't seem to go anywhere except to show the rest of the world a sportsman's vocabulary is limited. But then that is hardly the point, as their talents lie on the sports field, not with quill and parchment.
Naturally there are exceptions to the rule, and there is a sprinkling of excellent sportsmen-cum-sports journalists out there in Medialand.
Sports journalists can be very harsh in their criticisms; the corollary of this is they're usually effusive in their praise. Indeed, regular reading of a particular journalist's writing can see bouquet one week and brickbat the next, suggesting the journalist is suffering from some sort of bipolar disorder. However, like any public endeavor be it artistic or sporting, criticism is as much a part of the landscape as praise.
Now all this is fairly obvious, wouldn't you think? What is interesting, though, is gauging how various people handle this environment of extremes. Some people tend to not give a shit either way, knowing all to well that some media like to build a person up only to tear him down again, like a manic child intent on constructing a fantastic sculpture out of his Lego with the sole purpose being to see how much mess he can make when he destroys it.
Then there are others who read their own press and seem to take most or all of it to heart. They will soar high with the accolades and hints of greatness re-born; then they will crash in a fiery heap, screaming bloody murder and seeking revenge when something written about them does not jive. This particular method has proven to be folly. Case in point has been the reaction of English cricketer Ashley Giles, following on from the Ashes debacle against Australia. Nothing new there, though: England have routinely jumped on the train to mediocrity when it comes to playing Australia. It was always a possibility that the hype surrounding the build-up was going to burst, leaving egos bruised and squishy. And so it proved.
Statistically, Giles's contribution in the test was innocuous; but that's cricket, to borrow a cliché. Only 12 months ago he was the toast of the England cricket team with his series haul against the West Indies, soaring very high. Less than 12 days ago he was vilified by sections of the media, crashing to earth.
That it was harsh is undoubtable; but then again, it's hardly new. So how to handle criticism? This might be too simplistic, but perhaps it's best to ignore criticism and get on with one's particular job. Definitely this option is not the way to handle it, in this writer's opinion. This is especially so, considering the player in question is in the middle of a five test series. If one's grey matter is occupied on things outside of what it should be occupied on, then mentally the player is focused on something so ancillary he should be told to pull his head in. Engaging in a war of words through the media is really precious.
If, at the end of the series, Giles wanted to give his critics a roasting (especially if he was instrumental in England regaining the Ashes for the first time in a generation) then that would have been understandable to some. As it is the series is not decided and everyone associated with the team should be letting their deeds on the cricket pitch be their statement for now. Mouthing off in the manner of some players looks spectacularly stupid, especially when backed up by actions that do not justify the bluster that preceded those actions.
And there we have it -- a whole post devoted to sport.