In my last post about Kona and Matt Hoover, I briefly referenced all the pressure which was on Matt. This pressure was some good, but mostly bad. It was amazing to me the negative response so many people had to him getting the spot in Kona. Some of the things which were said were not something I would ever want someone I care about to hear said to them. I honestly believe this is a small minority of individuals in the sport, but sometimes it's not the size the population that matters, it's the strength of their voice.
There is one particular website which has a strong voice in the sport, EverymanTri.com. They expressed a negative opinion of Matt's presence at Kona. I don't mind that, as everyone has their opinion, but later I felt compelled to write this letter and I think you'll see why. I normally try to stay away from controversial topics, but as I get older I am realizing being PC 100% of the time is impossible. I also care about my athletes. Here is my letter...
"Dear Mr. Roman Mica,
I was the coach who worked with Matt Hoover, winner of The Biggest Loser, in his attempts to conquer Ironman Hawaii. I am writing this email to you to express my disappointment in the actions of your website, EverymanTri.com. As the editor-in-chief of the website, I believe you hold the key position in deciding what stories are written, reported and which opinions are expressed.
I especially noted the following opinion piece from May 7th, (which has no name attached to it, and did not make any attempt to separate itself from the opinions of EverymanTri.com), where it stated:
"Wow Matt, you know what would really impress us and how you could really, 'show a lot of people who have the idea that an athlete is 5'10" and 160 pounds that a big guy can do this?' Put in the hard work and ACTUALLY QUALIFY FOR KONA, or at least enter the lottery like everyone else! All that you are showing us is that like the other Biggest Loser who ran a marathon in a van, your biggest accomplishments are all for the camera with a lot of help and special treatment that in our opinion don't add up to a hill of beans at the end of the day."
I did not confront your opinion, because you are entitled to it. However, it seemed very clear that your website has a serious problem with the human interest stories. It seemed clear you did not like to see Matt in the race. Never mind the fact these stories can help the sport grow, they also help Ironman grow as a business.
Ironically, last weekend in Kona, Hawaii, you had Mr. Ben Greenfield do not one, but TWO interviews with Matt. You used them as both article-based posts for your website, and audio podcasts of the interviews, unedited, pre- and post-race. See below:
I have no issues with Mr. Greenfield's portrayal or treatment of Matt during the interviews, but I do find it rather hypocritical of EverymanTri.com to criticize Matt for bettering himself and his life to be an inspiration to others, and for Ironman and NBC to help grow the sport with the exposure from his participation, all the while you are blatantly doing the same with both articles and audio of interviews, trying to attract viewers for your website and business.
I also found the piece you originally wrote added to an extremely pretentious attitude in our sport, and is not what will help it grow. Nor will it positively influence the millions of Americans battling weight issues to use the sport to enrich both their lives and health. I hope you will consider these further for your future editorial decisions.