OPINION: On Karma
“There is no reason to be happy about the crash of a rival, it is necessary to be a sportsman/gentleman. But I understand the reaction of the crowd, because it’s clear that the Spanish fans will always support the Spaniards more.”
Those are the words of Alvaro in the paddock, post-race at Catalunya.
I think they’re worth repeating as they’re indicative of a graciousness that I find pretty special. And it was in abundance last weekend…
There’s Alvaro showing a generosity of spirit that I’d personally find very difficult to express about someone who’d totally stuffed up my previous race, and then there was Sergio Gadea’s tremendously kind words in accepting his third place in the 125cc debacle – seemingly more concerned about Julian Simon and the rest of the team than himself, and of course the fantastic sportsmanship between Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo after the main event and the clear and genuine respect of worthy rivals they demonstrated.
It’s when I see behaviour like that I get seriously impressed. It’s the totality of a sportsman / sportswoman that does it for me, not simply their technical ability or a list of their achievements. And it’s why I’m a total hypocrite in expecting them to hold to those kinds of standards whilst I enjoy being able to slag off ‘rivals’ like a big kid… It’s a position many of us hold, as partisan supporters, fans or fanatics, and which we feel entitled to precisely because we are partisan supporters, fans or fanatics. We can dress things up with reason, back them up with stats – all kinds of pimping – but when all’s said and done, we take our sides – and we are partial and prejudiced. Fact.
And because of that it’s okay for the rest of us to boo and hiss – and cheer and jeer; but when the guys in the spotlight get it wrong – as Simoncelli did with his reactions to his Mugello penalty – they set themselves up for a world of hurt. And so it was that Sideshow Bob, having changed his story from a public press conference to a stewards’ inquiry, having accused his rival of lying and then having suggested a Spanish conspiracy on the part of the authorities against Italian riders, found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of abuse when he binned it on lap two of the race.
Okay – the crowds had thought ahead and decked the circuit out with all kinds of inventive messages, but they were merely part of a large helping of Karma (served in this case with generous amounts of gravel) to someone who really does lack that kind of graciousness and self-awareness that you find in the examples of Bautista, Gadea, Rossi and Lorenzo above.
I’ve read on a number of occasions people all pointing to the same sentiment… basically that they know it’s wrong to revel in a crash, but that Simoncelli had completely asked for karma and payback like nobody else. And I must admit that’s pretty much my take. And that’s not a cover – that’s the truth, and I believe those may others mean it too.
He didn’t get all that jeering and all those banners because he’s a rival, or because he’s a threat, or because he’s Italian; he got them because he’s a git.
And on a final point about karma; go back to that quote and you’ll see that Alvaro’s words are actually even more generous than they may at first appear – as if you read the second bit carefully, you notice he’s actually at pains to avoid any reference to the Mugello antics (on-track or post-race) or anything to do with inflaming a rivalry in any unhealthy way whatsoever.
It’s an attitude utterly at odds with the gobby, petulant approach of Sideshow Bob. One that also humbles hypocrites like me. And hopefully one that eventually counts in that great karmic balance too…