Why Look, a Soap Box: Cyclocross and the Art of Spectating

As a post-script to the beer throwing and other undesirable spectator activity at Cross Vegas, here are a few quick thoughts:

Cross Vegas is an amazing event that brings the best of the best to the United States. A couple jerks in the crowd should not overshadow that. The story here is that Meredith Miller and Sven Nys took exciting victories over world-class competition.

That being said, the beer throwing/spraying was stupid, disruptive and insulting to the elite athletes who start to prepare for an increasingly long season a couple weeks early to be in top form for this specific event. Yeah, sure, cyclocross is weird. But so is my day job. Yet to date, nobody has doused me with a can of Bud while I try and do it.

U.S. cyclocross is a small, tight-knit community. I don’t have to tell anyone who has experienced it that you are part of something special. There is no excuse, however, for what some spectators did at Cross Vegas. The responsibility for those actions fall squarely on that small-segment’s shoulders and I think for the most part, those involved know what they did was unacceptable. Some have already reached out to the community and apologized, which should give this particular incident some sense of closure.

But here’s the cool part: we can make sure these incidents do not happen again. And doing so isn’t hard. As a “small, tight-knit community” it’s okay for us to self-police. If you see somebody doing something egregious, something that interferes with the race or denigrates those racing, tell them to stop. Or, if you are uncomfortable doing that, tell the race organizer and let them deal with it.

And, no, I’m not saying we should become fun police. If some dumbass is making a complete fool of himself but otherwise being harmless, that’s on him. Let that freak fly his flag. But throwing beer at both pro fields, like what happened during Cross Vegas, or tossing topless stripper cards specifically at the Cross Vegas pro women, is something that should never again happen. I trust you all to know the difference between “stupid but fun” and “stupid but unacceptable.” Remember, you’re at a cyclocross race, not a Limp Bizkit concert.

Peer pressure is not necessarily a negative concept. It can be used for the side of good. Let’s impose a little peer pressure for the sake of the sport we love. Keep ‘cross weird. Keep it fun. But keep it respectful, too. Be it Cross Vegas or any other race this season.

So enough with the lectures, already. Next week in this space we will have Sven on SVENNESS. It’s pretty darn cool. Seriously.

See you at the races.

-Bill

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5 thoughts on “Why Look, a Soap Box: Cyclocross and the Art of Spectating

  1. I was hoping to meet you at Cross Vegas. I am a big fan of your work and saw you interviewing Sven and Katie. I am Jeremy Durrin’s Dad and Gabby’s Father in Law and a huge fan of Cyclocross.

  2. I think the biggest problem with anything that grows in popularity is that a lot of what makes that thing great gets lost in translation somehow. The other night someone compared cx to the hardcore scene in the 90’s. There was this great time in the early to mid 90’s when the hardcore music scene was kind of an amazing thing. Here was this overly aggressive form of music bringing people together in a positive manner. The shows were wild but never violent for the sake of violence, The scene continued to grow the bands got more popular and this thuggish jock element took over (call them “bros” if you want). The shows became an unfriendly negative place to be, just oversized gym rats trying to punch you, and it ruined everything.
    It’s true what people are hearing about big ‘cross races, they are wild fun places to be and get loose but there is a limit and they’re are for sure boundaries. I don’t want to see my beloved cyclocross go the same way as my hardcore did.

  3. Agreed. I spent CrossVegas running back and forth on the course with Page’s kids and thankfully missed the shitty behavior. Overly negative heckling is stupid and, no matter what any of the Bros say, not a part of the sport. If you want to be an asshole, do it on your side of the tape and stay out of the way of those trying to do their jobs as professional cyclocrossers.

    And if I see bullshit like this at any of my beloved MAC races, I’m trying out my best JCVD moves on those who jabrones.

  4. I’m guessing that at CXLV there isn’t enough of a local crowd to enforce community standards. Should we all carry around a yellow card and a red card that have “Don’t be a D*ck!” printed on them. I don’t know why people need to be reminded of life’s golden rule. Personally I think idiots like this should be stripped naked, hog tied and left to roll around in the grass, and if they are making sexist noise at the women they need embro rubbed in their crotch. Someone can cut them loose when they pull up the tape.

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