The media has never been too shy about
over-using the word “hero” when it comes to sports coverage but today’s Herald Sun has hit glorious new heights. It would seem that the physical act of
carrying a piece of metal for a few hundred metres is now enough to earn you
the tag.

A front-page pointer and the double page
spread both declared the Victorians lugging the out-of-shape boomerang that
is the Commonwealth Games Queen’s baton to be “Baton Heroes”.

In an increasingly desperate bid to fan
local interest in this “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-the-Olympic-torch” 71 nation
relay, the paper even offered baton facts, including the hilarious claim that
the baton serves a useful function, carrying the Queen’s message to the
athletes from London to Melbourne. Presumably Buckingham Palace has yet to hear of email or fax.

Now far be it from Crikey to appear
cynical, but we couldn’t help but notice the Hun has found a commercial angle
in all this. It will surprise you to know, given today’s baton play, that the
paper is an official Commonwealth Games partner, but also, if you’re a genuine
Baton Hero, you can buy a dummy front page of the tabloid, featuring your image
as you carried the baton.

Yes, for only $120, your artificial Hero
status can be preserved forever. What a bargain!

By the way, if you’re looking for irony,
consider that today’s papers had trouble covering Australia’s
third-ever Winter Olympic gold medal, in the freestyle mogul, without obsessing
about Dale Begg-Smith’s internet business interests. Try here or here or here. It’s no surprise that the Canadian-born
Australian eventually told reporters: “I don’t know why we’re talking about the
company. I have won Olympic gold. I’m not here to talk business.”

The Australian‘s website considered an
Olympic gold to be its fifth most important story, so there’s a warning to all
future Olympians out there – don’t be independently wealthy before winning gold, or
value your privacy. Then again, at least we aren’t the Canadian
press. They really went to town.

And for the record, the Herald-Sun‘s
coverage of Begg-Smith’s win used the word “champion” three times, but they didn’t
rate him a “hero”.

Peter Fray

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