Back in the day, the press used to be very easy to explain. Even politicians (albeit well scripted, intelligent and humorous ones) could do so. And generally, our press was relatively sensible, albeit somewhat rumbustious.
Ahem. Hmmm. Ah. We have a little problem. A problem that is likely to get worse rather than better. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the British press.
Sadly, those days have passed. Financial implosion, digitalisation, job losses and loss of standards have made the press a nastier place. Anger has replaced humour, pandering replaced education, and editorialising replaced facts. So far, so old news.
However, we currently have a small event going on in the country which is focussing both our own and the world's attention on a small area of central London. This is giving the Press a field day - they have something to write about which will sell papers - always the one and only test of "newsworthiness", and by golly they aren't going to let the chance slip.
The problem is that the people they have to write about these events no nothing about what they are writing about. After all, lets be honest, to most sportsdesks in the UK, sport = football, or possibly Manchester United, depending on how diverse they think they are ... hence this monstrosity, where the Guardian, which is a usually a bastion of well written, diverse, sports journalism, chose to give significant space on their front webpage to this monstrosity, a full match report on two teams playing a competition which doesnt count in a month where no-one cares in a country that is not even England. Utterly ridiculous.
There is some good commentary going on in the BBC... Chris Boardman in cycling and Dan Topolski and Steve Redgrave and Matt Pinsent in rowing know what they are talking about and try to inform their viewers. But these guys (unfortunately) do not set the tone of the written press. Rather, that is set by editors and sports desks who have no idea about anything that isn't round and bouncy.
So, the combination of jingoistic nationalism, bias and ignorance results in this. Ignorant, stupid, spiteful and nasty all wrapped up into one pithy article. Well done the Mail, the leader in the clubhouse for utter loathsomeness, whose world view is perhaps best summed up by this post on their message board. Warning... follow this link with caution, it is definitely NOT SAFE FOR SANITY.
So just for the next two weeks, may I put out a plea to all you PodiumCafe denizens. Please excuse my country a little excitement... we need this global sportsday to cheer us up. But just remember that the press don't speak for us, and particularly doesn't speak for fans of minority sports (aka, anything that isn't football). Us British cycling fans saw what happened yesterday, understand what happened, and are cool with it (well, sort of... ;) ). It was a great race, and enjoyable, and we hope for many more. Just don't confuse us with the idiot gentlemen of the press.