Lower Your Pitchforks

This statement could be applied to basically every event where you see someone doing something that, at first look, is egregious. At least, when one doesn’t have the whole picture and all the information, the head should be kept cool and trying to burn someone in the pyre should be avoided.

But we live in the era of shocking news, the era of instant news and, even more importantly, the era of anger. Because we’ve never lived as good as we live nowadays, and we somehow feel the need to be angry at something.

In the last 24 hours I’ve observed one of these somethings. A marathon runner, Morhad Amdouni, from France, was shown in a few videos causing his fellow runners to not be able to get any water at a watering station in the Tokyo Marathon at the 28th km. Outrage. Calls for suspension from competitions. Insults. Racist slurs. Pitchforks.

Of course, if the video you’re shown only shows that one table, in very low resolution, you might miss important details about this event:

  • That one is the second table in a row of three full of water bottles.
  • He bumped on the first row out of two rows for bottle waters.
  • You can see him trying to grab bottles in the way to the last, and only managed to grab the last.
  • There are people taking care of the water bottles at each station, which are going to replenish the bottles, whether because they run out of them or because accidents like this happened.
  • That happened at the 28th kilometre of a marathon. Anyone who has started running any distance close to that know how hard it can get. Anyone who’s run in the dreadful conditions these guys had to endure knows that all you want to do is stop, go home, turn on the AC and call it a day, or a week.

I’ve only run two half marathons. I’ve tried to go further, but it’s hard as hell. Those two had watering stations, and it was basically as chaotic as this looked.

The others didn’t seem to have such a hard time. So what? Not everybody is the same, not all athletes are perfect machines. Mistakes happen.

The problem here was the awful journalism that we seem to be delighted with nowadays. «Hey, look, if I zoom into this image and remove all context, this person looks like the devil». Or «hey, if I remove all context from this, this person looks like he was beaten up by police for no reason at all».

Seriously, mainstream media can be awful. They are biased, no matter in which country you are. But cutting relevant information just to create a foe, is way worse than any of such bias.

So, where did I see it how it happened? Look in Eurosport. The commentary was much better than the website title. «Lots can go wrong at the drink station». And you can see the three tables and definitely that Amdouni was trying to grab a bottle from one row, while not touching the other row in the same table. Of course, as soon as he managed to grab the last bottle, he didn’t continue knocking bottles at the next table. And nobody in that group touched the first table.

Did he do that on purpose? Unlikely. If he did, that would have been a very dumb thing to do, because:

  • He left 5 rows of bottles untouched.
  • He’s surrounded by cameras, and he knows it.
  • The people taking care of the tables and the water bottles are there ready to replenish the tables.

But more importantly, he wasn’t disqualified.

Please, people, lower your pitchforks.