Did The Media Screw Up Again?

I read the Fan590 lineup this afternoon and to be honest, when I looked at the name Chantal Petitclerc, I didn’t have a clue who that was. What’s strange is that I wasn’t even interested enough to google her or to think about listening in to PTS. I got in the car at about 6:08, the time I know they usually come back from the news and advertisements and while the radio was set to 590, I instantly turned to 640 because I had no interest in know who Chantal Petitclerc was irrespective of the fact that she was apparently going to be on for the entire hour.(the radio was on 590 because when I got in to work I didn’t want to listen to Harry Capitto)

I then learned tonight that Chantal Petitclerc was the winner today of the Lou Marsh Award, which is recognizing Canada’s top athlete for the present calendar year. To say that I was a little surprised would be putting it mildly (you’re not a little anything Neuman!). Now, let me say this carefully. The surprise stems from the fact that I have never heard of Chantal Petitclerc. The surprise stems from the fact that if I were going to wager some of Doug MacLean’s money, I would wager a lot of it that a very large percentage of Canadian’s were like me, having never heard of Chantal Petitclerc.

Now, before you go calling me insensitive or sexist and anything else derogatory, let me say this. After reading Chantal Petitclerc’s accomplishments I am thoroughly impressed. “In Beijing, Petitclerc won five gold medals. She set three world records, two of them coming in races held only 90 minutes apart. Her wins in the T54 category of spinal injury ranged from the 100-metre sprint to the 1,500-metre test of wills. She retired from track racing after the games, bringing her consecutive gold medal streak to an end at 10.” Anyone who isn’t impressed by those accomplishments is an ass.

The question is, is this a fair representation of the Lou Marsh award? For those who aren’t familiar with the award, the award goes to Canada’s top athlete, either professional or amateur, as judged by a panel of journalists. Make no mistake, in my opinion, this shouldn’t be a popularity contest, but how does someone win this that so few people know about? I guess one possibility is shame on the majority. Interestingly, at least to me, there are a lot of complaints on many message boards and in the comments section to a lot of stories on the subject that suggest that she shouldn’t have won because she didn’t compete against a large field of competitors. The argument goes something like this. Given the nature of her condition she competed in those areas where only extremely wealthy countries could compete due to the costs involved in these types of competitions. (Don’t shoot the messenger, I am just telling you what is out there in great numbers.)

On the flip side, the Star, who used to employ Lou Marsh as a reporter, has a poll running asking if Chantal Petitclerc was the right choice. As I write this, the yes’s are ahead of the no’s 470 to 93. McCowan, for the record is a amongst the voters for this award.

Those crying foul are pointing to Justin Morneau, the Canadian born first basemen of the Minnesota Twins. Morneau is the first Canadian ever to win the home run derby (not that alone is reason to win the award in question), but also In 2008 Morneau batted .300 with 23 home runs and 129 RBI. Morneau finished second in the balloting for AL MVP. Raise your hands out there if you think if Morneau played for the Blue Jays or even a larger market team in baseball he wouldn’t have won the Lou Marsh.

Here is my take. i think at times we as Canadians try too hard to do the right thing and as a result we screw it up by not doing the obvious thing. I am not angry about this, and I know that there is no tone in these posts, so let me make that clear. I don’t usually pay much attention to awards like this. I don’t want to give the impression that I am not impressed by what Chantal Petitclerc accomplished. However the question is, was she really Canada’s top athlete of next year? If Michael Phelps were Canadian would he have won the award? If Chantal Petitclerc were American would she won the award? Me thinks we over Canadianized this one…. I am sorry to say. In any event, to Chantal Petitclerc and her friends and family congrats on all you did, sorry so many of us were unaware.

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December 10, 2008 9:54 am

hmm… lets see if Petitclerc is on the cover of any of the sports pages today in the papers. or on any of the tv headlines. or the lead item on the radio. hmm…. oh its none of the above?!? would this have happened if a baseball or hockey player or a multi-gold medal winning non-para-olympian had won the Lou Marsh? Shame.

December 10, 2008 11:17 am

So, did they make the right choice or screw up?

Duane R
December 10, 2008 1:21 pm

It was a terrible choice.

Let me ask this: If a Canadian masters track athlete were to go to the world masters games and win five gold medals and break multiple age group world records do you think that they would be considered for the award?

Clearly they wouldn’t. To me, Petitclerc’s accomplishments can be looked at the same way. They are impressive, but they can’t compare to someone competing in a truly open field of play. They just can’t.

And, @ woodpeck – the Lou Marsh barely gets mentioned after the fact every year. It has nothing to do with who the winner is and everything to do with how we pay more attention to the big American sports at expense of Canadian athletes in every sport. For example, look at how we cover the NCAA basketball tournament each year and compare it to how much press the Canadian university basketball championship get.

The Meatriarchy
December 10, 2008 1:44 pm

You know what I hate the most about the Lou Marsh award? The tiresome arguments about who won/should have won every year.

The worst offender is McCowan who will usually milk a whole week of shows about it. Way to get me to switch!

Should Peticlerc have won? Don’t care. But congratulations to her.

Oh and for the record I hadn’t heard of her till yesterday either.

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