POLL POSITION: I’m just going to go ahead and say it: Cadel Evans’ Tour de France win, I just don’t get the hype – much like former magazine editor turned commentator Mia Freedman who took a spearing from everyone’s favourite bogan in a suit Karl Stefanovic for daring to suggest on the Today Show that perhaps Cadel’s victory wasn’t all that.
Truth be told, Cadel did do a stellar job, he road a bike 3430km and beat a whole bunch of other dudes on bikes riding 3430km. I am pleased he was able to achieve what was no-doubt a life goal, I certainly couldn’t come close. I too am pleased that so many Australians found his effort to be a pivotal moment in their week, and inspiration to aim high, live large, and all the rest.
But I would be lying if I said I completely understood the level of elation that was trumpeted – lead story of the sports pages, fine, topic of breakfast television, understandable, but crucifying those who consider this a sports story not a news story, and calling for a public holiday?
Admittedly it was Cadel’s wife Chiara that made the illustrious suggestion, but it gained widespread support amongst many Australians, and the Australian media.
“All that is needed now is for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to declare a public holiday,” wrote Andrew Webster in the Herald Sun on 24 July.
Not that I’m against state sanctioned days off work, but it is quite a big call, really, isn’t it? Or maybe Cadel is just as big of a deal as the Queen and Jesus. Maybe Cadel can bring the holiday that even athiest republicans can enjoy.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard squashed this public holiday excitement though, ruling there would be no such day. Though thrilled over his victory, she said she wasn’t in a position to call for a holiday, however, that “ultimately we’ll be more enthused about our daily tasks because we’re celebrating his victory.”
Well, I’m not certain I was any more enthused about my “daily tasks” after Cadel cycled long and hard to a champagne finish. I certainly was no more enthused having sat through Tina Arena delightfully decked out in a wife-beater bearing the Australian flag while warbling our national anthem to the crowd in Paris celebrating Cadel’s victory.
Though, I suppose I do have somewhat of a grasp on why sporting achievements like Cadel’s are so celebrated. There are some weeks when the insanity of the world we live in seems more evidenced than usual. Last week was one of those weeks. Cadel’s victory was the good news in a sea of awful.
Last week we became aware of the extent to which Somalians are starving to death (millions are hungry and tens of thousands face death without immediate humanitarian intervention).
We realised that terrorism can be carried out by blue-eyed blonde-haired non-Muslim folk residing in idyllic Nordic nations (but he’s not a terrorist, he’s a “lone wolf”, a “home-grown extremist”, oh hello there Anders Behring Breivik).
We also figured out how to stop those pesky boats by opening up a glorious new trade agreement with Malaysia whereby we send off the most vulnerable people from our shores to theirs. Like a fun game-show: It’s time to go… asylum seekers! Except it’s real, and it’s not that fun, at least not for those we are sending off to the country that has hardly has a stellar human rights record.
Meanwhile, Cadel hasn’t taken food from, killed, or traded any of his fellow human folk. Maybe he does deserve that public holiday.