Olympic Games ambush marketing special

Editor Neil McNaughton goes ‘off topic’ to unveil new sporty website, harangue readers to get fit and boasts about his sporting under-performance. Anyone one up for a run at ECIM?

It’s a few years, actually since October 2008, since I last abused my editorial position and went completely off topic. Back then I wrote on ‘Gas guzzling, CO2, horsepower and ‘green’ ...’ And I am still interested in feedback and ideas on the unlikely contribution of ‘air geothermal’ heating and cooling to the world’s energy mix as described in another off-topical editorial, ‘Heat pumps, phlogiston and the world wide web’ (March 2008).

With the holiday break imminent (Oil IT Journal takes a very French month off in August), I thought that I should indulge myself again and also do myself a favor with an unashamedly dual-use editorial. Let me explain.

I am something of a sport addict and, as you may have observed, a writer. Like many folks in oil and gas, having lived through a few downturns and changed companies and countries a few times, I am also in the position of not being 100% sure as how my retirement will be funded. So I thought that, as a kind of insurance policy, I would bag a website, ‘OldSports.com, that would allow me to combine writing, sports and old age. This seemed to me, when I registered the domain name, like a good idea.

Well that is as far as I got. The website has been displaying a ‘welcome’ message and a promise that content would be forthcoming, ‘real soon now!’ This is in part due to my other strategy for retirement which is, not retiring—meaning that I have as yet no need to seek to ‘monetize’ OldSports.com!

But right now I have a more pressing need—filling in two more columns of editorial before midday. Also, the Olympic Games are about to kickoff in London today, offering an excellent opportunity for some illegal ambush marketing. The use of the words ‘Olympic’ and ‘Games’ in any context except for marketing hamburgers and soda is, apparently, a felony. Even the cycling area has been dubbed the ‘Pringle’ stadium!

Much as I enjoy sitting in front of the TV watching others leap, spring and pedal, it has to be said that there is something wrong with this as a sporting paradigm—as in many older unfit viewers watching a super-fit few.

The situation at the other end of the age spectrum is not much better as the number of people participating in sport has an inverse relationship with age. Many sports clubs act as filter on young sportspeople’s progress as they seek to identify champions and eliminate the laggards. Things may be different elsewhere, but in my experience as a parent, kids sports clubs fail singularly to inspire them to do something sporty for pleasure and for their own well being. This is compounded by the ‘Olympian’ spirit of some parents who see in their offspring a future medalist and, in the referee, an idiotic impediment to such.

When the youngster inevitably fails to reach the Wimbledon final or whatever the objective was, disillusion sets in. This will likely coincide with an adolescent desire to do other stuff, like watch TV, or not wash for a week, and sport is forgotten.

In middle age, far too many folks just drift away from sports, and engage in less and less physical activity of any sort—well almost. And of course, as you lose fitness, you can only do less and less. It is a vicious circle.

A recent report in The Lancet described the ‘pandemic of physical inactivity’ as the ‘fourth leading’ cause of death worldwide. Well you may say that the ‘fourth leading’ cause of death is probably not worth worrying about and I would agree. But there is a much better reason to get fit and that is the effect it has on one’s mental well being.

I myself in the rather distant past suffered from depression. But not since I took up running (and later biking) about thirty years ago. Every now and then I still feel the blues creeping back. But I now have a solution. I put my shorts on, go off for an hour or so running and the endorphins do the rest.

In that one’s mental well being is pretty important to one’s professional life, sport helps one at work too. I like to think that at least some of the increased blood flow is getting to the brain and staving off age-related doltishness! I’m sure that it makes sitting in the plane for a 10 hour trip to Houston more bearable. And I also suffer less form colds and flu. These may be replaced by the odd bout of tendinitis or other aches and pains. But my take on such ailments is that they are too often taken as a pretext to quit. The medical profession does not always help here. Some doctors seem to think that older folks should avoid ‘too strenuous’ activity.

One of the reasons that I have not yet done anything about OldSports.com is that blogging about one’s life, sporting or otherwise is awful close to boasting. Well the internet is full of bloggers ‘boasting’ about what they have done and I for one enjoy reading of their exploits.

So here goes. I run something like 2,000 km per year and bike about the same. This year I turned in a sluggish 4:42 for the Paris Marathon. I also completed my seventh ‘Etape du Tour’ (0304) a popular bike race where around 6,000 cyclists ride one of the harder stages of the Tour de France. This year it was from Albertville to La Toussuire—a ‘short’ stage (150km) but with a lot of climbing (4750 meters). I finished 4301st out of the 4400 qualifiers. You can watch me finish in style here. In 2010 I actually came in last— 6888th out of a field of 6888 and was one of two people referred to in L’Equipe, the French national sports newspaper (OK they named the guy who won and I was just ‘the guy who came last’ but what the heck.)

So what is all this boasting about coming last and running slow? Well in a way that is the whole point. It’s better to be out there coming in last rather than being inside watching someone else come first isn’t it?

If any of you are attending the ECIM* E&P IM Conference and User Meeting in Haugesund, Norway on 10-12th September, I invite you to join me on a slow run through the lovely Steinsfjellet park just outside the city center. Ping me on neil@oilit.com and bring your trainers.

* Expert Center for Information Management.

Follow @neilmcn

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