ournal entry #2
Location: Global Champion’s Tour- Monte Carlo, Monaco
July 4th, 2012
Personalities in Show jumping!
I am slightly sad that the weekend is over. I tried my very best to keep Sunday going as long as possible, but half-way through the evening, I guess a few minutes before the Spain-Italy football game ended (I can remember seeing the 4th goal of Spain substitute Matta) I fell a sleep. The heavy nightlife in Monte Carlo and the few hours spent in bed wore me out.
But the next weekend is only a few 5 days away and the sportfest in Aachen started on Tuesday, so I should have no reason to be so sad, yet I am. The reason is that the European Championship Football is over. In my previous piece I wrote about how 4 or 5 teams were destined to play the final and I was right, with Spain and Italy. I do enjoy a good game of football but I’m not so passionate about it that I’ll be in mourning for the following week. So, why am I so sad? The answer is: personalities!! With the championship over, we say goodbye to some of the strongest personalities that give taste and color to a sport that is loved my millions. A sport that is viewed all over the world and that thrives over these men.
Christiano Ronaldo aka C-Ron of CR7, Mario Balotelli aka Super Mario, Zlatan Ibrahimovic aka Ibracadabra just to name few are extremely talented football players, but so are most of the guys selected for their national teams.
Yet, not many change their hairstyles during half time, not many a reviled by the entire football world over their bad performance and answer by knocking out the entire German Mannschaft, scoring twice….. whilst celebrating, swear far more intensely than any drunk Irishman at 4.30am. Others are covered with tattoos and yet are still considered the perfect son-in-law.
So you think I’m jealous?? Not at all. I love these characters. They are of great value to their sport. They are mediagenic and are a fantastic tool for marketeers and brands. They are worth millions, not only because of their skills but also thanks to their personality that lifts and lights the entire competition.
And so I wonder… Do we need these characters and personalities in show jumping? I’m not saying the horse sport needs a John McEnroe-type who, on foot, walks back into the ring to discuss with the judge standing by the open-water why there are 4 points on his result when he thinks his horse cleared the water. But I remember, the late Jean-Claude Van Gheenberghe, saying after a clear first-round in the Aachen Grand Prix; “After today my name will be on the victory wall for the 3rd time”. He didn’t win but he wasn’t to shy to create some commotion, just like Balotelli did before the final, predicting he was going to score four times and warned Shakira about what he planned to do to her boyfriend.
Kevin Staut is doing well to become a star that will shine outside the ring. The former European Champion won the GP of Monte Carlo but he also has his own collection with the high-end fashion label Scabal. If he could make an appearance on the catwalk in Milan or New York and export our sport, he would create much more interest in show jumping. Same deal with H&M Malin Baryard Johnson or Tina Lund in Denmark who won the Danish version of ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ But today’s riders are not yet at the same international level of such co-athletes as Roger Federer or Tiger Woods even though they are just as successful in their sport …..as Hamilton is in his.
I think show jumping offers a few personalities who spice up our sport but they are not very handy with the media, a quality that can be trained. Look at Edwina Alexander, who spent nearly every day in front of TV camera’s for interviews, not answering in a monotonous: ‘Yes my horse felt really great today and I am happy to win’ but with a bright face that says: “Yes GUCCI and I love fashion so we did something together and yes I want to win!”
And what about managers? Even stray cats that sing out of tune have a manager but the world’s best riders don’t? Why?
So let’s bring in the media-trainers, managers and spicy details that will get our sport more international attention……. thus more money and an opportunity to raise the bar.