The Bigotry of MotoGP – The Vile Valeban
By Marty Thompson
Bigotry- (Definition) – stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
What an absolutely stunning ride by Valentino Rossi at Jerez on Sunday. It was the Rossi of old. Pinpoint perfect from the lights going out until the chequered flag was waved. I sat completely riveted to the television screen, immovable as I watched one of the most perfect displays of bike control in years. Some find it boring to watch a rider utterly dominate a race. To control those in the minor places lap after lap. To establish a lead and watch their pit board to ensure the gap was maintained or extended when needed or able. The precision with which Valentino rode reminded me of his pre Ducati days. The days where he was simply another level above the rest of the field. But to my eyes, it was simply brilliant to watch. The Rossi of old we all loved was back. No longer struggling to keep up, but rather the others struggling to keep up with him. Millimetre perfect the entire race.
But what kept going through the back of my mind while enjoying this masterclass, was the guarantee of the spiteful, unrelenting hate which was to come from the “Valeban” post race. As even in victory, they are unable to control their utter contempt and loathing for his competitors. While I love passionate fans who support their favourite rider, I detest bigotry and bigotry is something that has become prevalent throughout MotoGP fandom in recent years.
It appears that if you are a Pedrosa fan, then you must hate the others. A Lorenzo fan, then his rivals and his rivals supporters are to be derided and abused. More so if you are a Rossi fan than any other fan.
While there are some rational Valentino fans, there is an overwhelming majority who appear to be unable to accept any opinion or belief other than those which totally support every aspect of Rossi….the bigoted fans. These fully paid up members of the Valeban can see no rationale. Are unable to accept any facts. Refuse to acknowledge when Rossi makes a mistake, be it on track or in the media. Accept his petulance when he loses and applaud his derision of other riders. Whereas, if this behaviour is exhibited by any other rider, then they are a sook. A bad sport. A sore loser. A cry baby……..and these are some of the more polite terms commonly issued, the more vile comments are not fit for publication.
The current example is the attacks on Jorge Lorenzo’s less than jovial attitude on the podium at Jerez. It is as if Valentino has never showed a poor response to not winning a race. That he has never complained or expressed his disappointment with the performance of a tyre or a set up which didn’t work as expected. But it’s even more than that. It is the vile, zealotry of these comments. The excessive fanatacism which spits from the viperous tongues of the Valeban is what really gets on my goat. Passionate fans I love. The hatred, animosity, detestation and relentless loathing I don’t. The lack of respect for other riders has increased dramatically in the last decade. I’ve watched it change from what used to be passionate fans, respectful of the riders they do not support, to total and complete hatred of other riders and there is one person who started it and one person who could nip it in the bud with just one press release. That person is Valentino himself. Instead, he chooses to ignore it, even perpetuate and subtly encourage it.
Now of course, with Valentino’s first win since August 2015, the Valeban are now claiming it as the second coming of god. If they are to be believed, he is now a certainty to win every race for the remainder of the year and claim his tenth world title. He is far superior to every other rider and no one will be able to keep pace from henceforth……they may as well hang up their boots and gloves now. While I for one, would be absolutely over the moon at Valentino winning his tenth title, I am still to be convinced that this one singular performance at Jerez, all be it a master class in riding a MotoGP bike, is a signal that he will check out for the remainder of the years races. He has two super talented riders who are going to be doing everything they can to ensure that is not the case and anyone who writes off either Marquez or Lorenzo, either knows a hell of a lot more about MotoGP than I, or is delusional. I’ll allow you to be the judge of that.
Most fans have a favourite rider and that’s perfectly normal. What is….or at least was perfectly normal, was showing some respect for the other riders who risk their lives every second weekend to keep us entertained. To me, they are all heroes. The aliens of motorcycle racing. Riding gods each and every one of them. To me, they all deserve to be shown respect regardless of who I feel is my favourite rider or the one I would most like to see win the championship. You see, I’m not a bigot. Just a huge fan of motorcycle racing and the riders who continue to keep me in absolute awe of their skills and abilities.
If anyone is looking for me, I’m heading to join Mr. Rushdie in protective custody preparing for the onslaught from the Valeban…