November 9, 2010

There’s No ‘I’ In Team, But Don’t Tell the Media That

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Why can’t life just be simple? I mean, why do we always have to find ambiguous situations that are difficult to deal with? For instance, why do we need Facebook’s “it’s complicated” description for relationships? Can’t we just say whether we are in a relationship or not? Well, I guess it just doesn’t work that way. From choosing a correct word for labeling a relationship, to finding what sex Lady Gaga really is, we are always caught between spectrums, constantly trying to reach all or nothing. The world of sports is not the exception.  As we know, there are individual sports and team sports. Individual sports are those in which a single person is a playing party. Tennis singles, boxing, skateboarding and javelin throw are in this category. Contrastingly, team sports are those in which two individuals or more unite to compete against another party of the same amount –– taking into account that in some team sports there are specific rules, such as the power play in ice hockey, in which a team might be in disadvantage by having less members participating for some specific amount of time. Some examples of team sports would be baseball, American football and soccer. However, as I stated before, life is just not that simple. There are some sports that can be found between these two extremes, and controversy has emerged in regards to their classification. This is the case of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Formula One World Championship.  Formula One, as it is commonly known, is the highest level of “single-seat auto racing” regulated by the FIA. Although not that popular in the United States, this auto racing competition is very famous at the international level. According to F1’s official global broadcast report, television audience exceeds the 600 million mark per race. Not to mention the fact that a Formula One season consists of 19 races ––also known as Grands Prix –– that take place in different locations around the world such as Bahrain, Australia, China, Spain, Canada, Turkey and Brazil. At the end of the season, two different world titles are awarded: the driver’s championship and the constructor’s championship. The driver’s top honor is awarded to the pilot who accumulated the most points through all the 19 races. The constructor’s championship, on the other hand, is given to the team that gathers the most points at the end of the campaign –– taking into account that a team is composed of two drivers. For example, in the current season, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leads the driver’s competition with 246 points. In spite of that, Red Bull Racing tops the constructor’s contest with 469 points, while Ferrari finds itself at third place with 389 points. Although I don’t have any problem with having separate –– individual and team–– titles, I don’t agree with the international media, which believes that the driver’s championship is more important than the constructor’s. Every time I read online articles about Formula One, the press reports the perspectives of drivers about upcoming races, their relationship with drivers from other teams, their position in the driver’s championship table and other matters concerned with the individual part of the sport. However, I almost never find reports about how the mechanics sub-team is improving a car for the next race; or a description of the interaction between the communications sub-team and drivers, and how this improves the driver’s overall performance. In essence, the media makes Formula One look like it is an individual sport rather than a collective one. I believe this is unfair because even though drivers are really important, there are many significant factors that contribute to their performance that are not controlled by the drivers themselves. You cannot compare an individual sport such as javelin throw, where an athlete’s showing is completely ruled by himself, with a sport such as Formula One, where a time-efficiency execution such as changing tires –– which is not carried out by the driver –– can make the difference between winning and losing a race.I think the media exalts the importance of individuality in Formula One because it makes the sport more marketable. For instance, it is more profitable for Spanish sports newspaper MARCA to write about Spaniard Fernando Alonso’s victory in a Grand Prix, than about Ferrari’s –– the Italian team Alonso drives for –– effort in making a competitive car. Once again, I opine it is a shame that the merits of a sport are being corrupted for mere commercial interests. True, the economic factor is highly important, as Formula One is considered the most expensive sport in the world. But after all, we do not want the economic side of the sport ruining the quality identity, and excitement it has to offer to its audience.

Original Author: AJ Ortiz