It’s called perspective

The stunning Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands and the CBD at night - every night's a summer's night in Singapore

Reading Brand Republic and the British media in the last few months you would have thought that the world had stopped turning, and 8 billion people had stopped living to watch the Olympics and that nothing else mattered in life.

Hate to disillusion you all but not even half the UK population did that…

I could write a blog about it but it comes from a viewpoint of an expat who deliberately left the UK in order to find a better and happier life in Asia for innumerable reasons and has never looked back since.

Fundamentally I left the UK because I no longer wished to live there. So I am biased.

However I was reading the excellent Martin Samuel’s column in the Daily Mail (I only read the sport section on line honest!).

He has not left the UK and is not only passionate and patriotic but is amazingly astute, perceptive and cuts the crap to get to the point that other people were thinking but dare not say in case they are accused of being unpatriotic (as if that was a crime).  He does it in a very readable and witty way.

So why don’t i let you read his column, read by 10 million people in the UK and millions more across the world (but probably not many marketing folk) and you can see that it’s not just me who believes that the UK has somewhat lost perspective of what a sporting event held in the UK actually means to people outside of the UK.

From Martin Samuel in The Daily Mail:

After the Games, clarity begins at home

‘The greatest show on earth’ read the headline in the New York Post on Monday morning. Yet, before we embark on another round of self-congratulation, it must be pointed out that the story concerned is not Britain’s glorious Olympic summer but the New York Jets’ 48-28 win over the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.

For Olympic news, specifically Paralympic news, you had to turn to page, er, you had to turn to page, um, actually, forget it. There was no Paralympic news in the New York Post. Not in the New York Times, either, despite a dedicated sports pull-out and the boast of ‘all the news that’s fit to print’.

There were shorts on cycling, Nascar motor sport and a whole page of roof ideas for the tornado-blighted Billie Jean King National Tennis Center but of London’s grand Olympic finale, nothing.

USA Today found room for six paragraphs in the Update section, above the death of the president of the National Amateur Athletic Union and Tony Schumacher recording his ninth Top Fuel victory in the Mac Tools US Nationals. No, me neither.

And this is not to knock the American media. They have to sell newspapers, too. If the British public had not embraced all aspects of the Games so magnificently, it would not have received blanket coverage on these pages, either.

Realise, though, that while we think our Olympics has been the most wonderful life-changing event of the 21st century, events always feel bigger when they take place on your doorstep.

Melbourne promotes itself as sport’s capital because it has nine Australian Rules Football teams, hosts Australian Open tennis, the Australian Grand Prix, Test matches, rugby internationals and the Melbourne Cup. What’s the Melbourne Cup? It’s a two-mile horse race dating back to 1861. Australia stops for it. Beyond their shores, however, it has about as much significance as the Grand National does in Bulgaria. But Melbourne thinks the world is watching.

All hosts do.

So we cannot simply presume that progress will follow London’s Olympic triumph without affirmative individual action. People thought China’s Olympics were going to revolutionise that country, too. Then, less than three years later, the artistic consultant for the Bird’s Nest stadium, Ai Weiwei, was arrested and held for months without charge.

‘It sends out the message that nobody is immune,’ said Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch. Some change.

We take nothing for granted from here. Sport makes a difference in people’s lives but real social change is achieved in the years when the circus isn’t in town. Grass roots involvement, whether sporting or political, is the key.

Basically, if you really want to make an impact on disability, start with a foreign policy that doesn’t require so many young men to have their legs blown off.

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  • Chris Gratton

    Firstly, by referencing an article someone else has written (and you clearly have strong favour towards his journalism) you have jumped on the back of it as a way to vent your feeling against The UK, the comparisons made here are poor and you have not analysed the validity… you say ‘I could have written a blog about it’… perhaps your should have! I am taking it that you agree with all points made by Martin Samuel and therefore my response reflects that.

    I do not live in Melbourne however I see daily coverage in UK press when The Australian Open or GP have taken place… the world does watch depending on the sport. Horse racing is not a global sport, Formula 1 and Tennis are… different sports sell globally for different reasons. Great comparison now that is probably close to your heart, UK media reporting on the Singapore GP. This has been in the daily publications all week throughout the country… now tell me that these globally interesting events do not have coverage in other markets.

    In terms of coverage, the Paralympics is not the Olympics, particularly in The US where it falls way down in their list of priorities in terms of sporting showcase. I can guarantee you that during the Olympic games the coverage of the event would have been there in abundance. Are you really telling me that Phelps et al medal exploits did not make big waves in The US or that Bolt in the 100m did not have global impact… that the world wasn’t watching? Just look at the Olympic Medal table vs the Paralympic medal table and you will see the discrepancy of support for the different disciplines. Therefore referencing the New York Times during the Paralympics smacks of trying to engineer an article and viewpoint. There is an obligation for a minimum level of coverage shown in a market and I am aware that The US showed the absolute minimum level. That tells you all you need to know about the appetite for the Paras in the US market.

    Was there no coverage of The Olympics in Singapore? Surely you must have (or not, in which case you have a more valid argument and should have blogged your own opinion) seen something yourself rather than reference an article that only showcases one publication in The US. 

    My Final point on this fairly long response is that sporting events are very much like the news, people move on quickly to the next thing and yesterdays news is tomorrows chip paper. The Olympics was a wonderful event in The UK (and through conversations with global colleagues the feeling is the same overseas) however it finishes and something else takes its place. There is only a finite time you can talk about these achievements and the event before you move on to the next one.

    P.S – not sure of the relevance of your link to Man Utd (apart from again showing your bias against the club as readers of this blog will be aware). Is it purely to showcase more of Martin Samuel’s excellent (in your opinion) journalism?