'Let's get this straight. Are you saying I've been lying about my injury?' 'Yes'.

Sport I saw the Michael Johnson interview in which he suggested that Darren Campbell had been inconsistent with his comments about the injury he had sustained and how it had effected his performance in the heats for his main disiplines. For the people who missed it:
"I'm confused, Darren said he'd pulled his hamstring, then said he's in the best shape of my life. Then when he was asked about the relay he said 'It doesn't feel too bad now' and then he said I'm hurt. Darren is upset that people are questioning what's going on with him. No-one's ever questioned that he's a great athlete - he's a championship performer but obviously he's not in shape right now. So why not just say that? Everyone will respect that. But when you pull a hamstring, you're out for six weeks - you can't run. After the second round, I felt bad for Darren coming off the track, wincing. But then he said 'I'm going to run the semi-final.' I felt like I'd been taken advantage of, as a viewer and as a supporter of Darren. That bothers me because I think he's better than that."
Which I can absolutely understand, especially as Johnson was obviously choosing his words carefully. If you look at the interview Campbell gave it's almost as though he's trying to use his injury as a reason for his poor performance but at the same time trying to mask it. But Johnson is a pundit, he has an opinion, and he's voiced it. But then you hear about this happening:
"The Briton allegedly confronted Johnson, the 400m world record holder and former Olympic champion, at a party hosted by MTV in an Athens nightclub after the race on Wednesday evening. His agent Sue Barrett told the London Evening Standard: "Darren told him [Johnson], 'I'm not happy about what you've been saying about me' and Johnson replied, 'That's my opinion.' It's a small tear but for a sprinter it's a fairly significant injury GB&I team doctor Brian English "When Darren said, 'Let's get this straight. Are you saying I've been lying about my injury?' Johnson responded 'Yes'. Then he walked away."
Effectively the precedant here is that if a pundit says something about another athlete on television, the athlete can then go and confront the pundit about what they've said. To make a comparison, how about Alan Hanson on Match of the Day. Week in and out he has an opinion on the performance of a player, a manager, a team -- does that then mean they have the right to confront them on that? Or for something closer to home, if I say that I think Van Helsing is just appauling and offer a hundred reasons that the director Stephen Summers can seek me out and argue the point with me? If people are happy with the work they're doing and that they're doing the best they can do, why take the opinions of someone else so seriously?


  1. Anonymous1:48 pm

    I don't see why not. If somebody says something that's factually wrong about me or my work, I would want to correct them. If they say something I just disagree with, I might want to argue the toss. Why shouldn't people debate with their critics?

    (rick @ http://www.rfbooth.com/ )

  2. To some extent because on this occasion Johnson wasn't saying what he was saying to be purposefully argumentative or to kick a guy when he's down. He chose his words very carefully -- he described himself as a supporter of Campbell -- he was just voicing the concern that the athlete didn't appear to be doing the best he can do -- and for that matter whether he was using the injury to cover some greater problem. He was also voicing the concerns of the sports fan as well -- my mum for example described Campbell as being a changed man -- what led to that?

    Also if someone feels hard done by, they have every right to argue. But to some extent in this case there are time and place issues, and also how this particular altercation reflects on himself and the rest of the team. But of course no one really knows what happened -- I was writing an op piece based on a second or third hand report. And everyone has the right to disagree with that.