Old forum > The Boat Race

Hands up those of you who were watching the University Boat Race on Saturday afternoon? I have a feeling I may be in a minority! I like watching the boat race, and for 10 minutes it was set up for a classic encounter. Now it may be that you feel this is an event which attracts far more media attention than it deserves, but even so, I invite any of you to put yourselves in the position of being a member of either crew, only to have your day of days ruined by a protester with his own agenda.
The reason why I make this post is simply the fact that it appears to be all too ridiculously easy for any sporting event to be sabotaged, a fact that I'm sure will have been noted by Olympic organisers. I'm sure there will be many millions spent on security in London in August, and yet how secure can we make any sporting occasion?
Remember the Olympic Men's Marathon of 2004 in Athens, when the defrocked Irish priest, Cornelius Horan, dragged the Brazilian leader, Vanderlei de Lima, off the course at 34 km? Don't forget this was the same guy who had casually walked across the Silverstone circuit the previous year whilst the British Grand Prix was in progress.
For a final example, I take you a little further back, and an incident during the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984 - which subsequently gained a bit more notoriety by the "What Happened Next?" round of a Question of Sport. It was during the 3000 metres steeplechase final that a spectator emerged from the crowd and joined in the race. Amazingly, he was able to hurdle too!
David Coleman, commentating on the race, came up with another of his wonderful comments: "the Americans have considered everything in terms of security from nuclear attack to germ warfare, but the odd idiot is a real problem".

April 9, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick McGeoch

Well, I was certainly watching it, as were friends of mine! I shall also be glued to watching the Tour de France which has had it's own share of problems. Didn't Robert Millar have a clash with a spectator on one of the mountain stages many years ago? If someone is determined to be a pratt then it's very difficult to legislate against. Then there is a search for blame 'What was it you weren't doing that allowed it to happen'. The organisers can only be responsible for so much. Hope it all goes off OK anyway....

April 9, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoward Kent

I wonder what the reaction on the Forum would be if Dai Green (say) is pulled down at the second last. Or if Usain Bolt is body checked in the 100m. Or Victoria Pendleton is knocked off her bike by a protestor in the quarter final. How about someone stealing the leaders golf ball off the 72nd at Lytham St. Anne's this summer?
Remember that the pitch was dug up overnight before the last day of a test match at Headingley by George Davis is innocent protestors. The Grand National was postponed until Monday because of a bomb threat. Wales and Scotland XVs withdrew from their fixtures in Dublin 1972 in response to the IRA threat.
The scope for ruining a sporting event is almost endless.
Those who studied to get to Oxford and Cambridge in order to row in the Boat Race were entitled to the same respect as any other sporting competitor.

April 9, 2012 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterEirian Arwyn

My first reaction was pretty much as above, but there is a different way of looking at it. The boat race protester was making a point about elitism, which given that our society is becoming increasingly stratified is a valid one to make.
So we, as sports fans would say he shouldn't disrupt a sporting event, but aren't all protests disruptive by their very nature. If I want to go shopping and there's some demo getting in my way I'm likely to get hacked off by it. Or if I had to take a day off work because my children's teachers were protesting about proposed changes to their pension arrangments by going on strike. Or maybe, a few years ago, I had my nice day out foxhunting ruined by hunt saboteurs.
Point being that living in a society which tolerates protest is a royal pain at times, but the alternative is worse.

April 9, 2012 at 8:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Mason

calm down. if this thread goes on too long we'll have 'look out for suiside bomber in photo finnish'
@ alan i agrea this is an ilitist race, how come oxford and cambridge are always in the finnal.
i believe the tabloid media will make the olympics seem like a shambles, looking out for any cockups.
mind you the olympic body are doing a good job of making themselves look inept.

April 10, 2012 at 12:22 AM | Unregistered Commenteralan mann

@Eirian, I think "Those who studied to get to Oxford and Cambridge in order to row in the Boat Race.." may have been true in the past, but I'm pretty sure that these days it's those who row well get to study at Oxbridge :-)

April 10, 2012 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Townsend

Trenton Oldfield, the protestor against the elitist apparently was educated at one of Australia’s most privileged schools before graduating from the London School of Economics. He is a lot more 'elitist' and privileged than most. It's a bit like protestors at 'Occupy London', protesting against the establishments but seen buying latte at Starbucks? We live in a rather hypocritical society. Before we take up a cause, perhaps best to examine oneself? This sounds like a stunt that says 'hey look at me, aren't I great, I can grab headlines'.

April 10, 2012 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterAi-Lin Kee

Lucky for me, I backed Oxford each way at the Bookies !

April 10, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMel James

Ai Lin, you're spot on! BBC rightly concentrated on the effects on the crew, and arrangements for restarting the race. They gave Trenton Oldfield, initially at least, very little air time. I googled his name to find out a bit more to him, and also to guage how sympathetic or otherwise the media reaction was.
I thought Trenton's smirk said it all.
@ Alan Mason - yes, thankfully we do live in a tolerant society. I believe each protest should be viewed on its merits.
As far as I can see - this protest had no merit whatsoever.

April 10, 2012 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick McGeoch

Matt. Many of the modern day rowers at Oxford and Cambridge are postgraduates who gained their first degree elsewhere. They choose to apply for a place to do postgraduate work. Top rowers will consider the opportunity to row in the Blue crews as an added attraction and so apply to Oxford or Cambridge depending on their area of interest or preference for research opportunities and connections. Both are funded for research on a scale beyond the dreams of most Universities. Many of these students might otherwise apply to Universities in their own countries/states. Nonetheless they have to earn their place on the basis of academic achievement. Companies sponsor researchers for the benefit the company gets from the research not the quality of the rowing.
The crews these days are not composed primarily from former pupils of the English public school system. Half a century ago they were introduced as being from a named school and their college. There was only one Englishman in one of the boats last Saturday.
Alan. This is a match between two clubs, not a final. Who a club plays in a match is for the clubs not for anyone else. Other people only get to determine the degree of interest taken in that match. Thus far our mob match with Brackla and Bridgend has not attracted the attention of the media moguls or the wider public.

April 11, 2012 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterEirian Arwyn