The Van Gogh Effect

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Vincent Van Gogh began painting in his 20’s and produced over 2000 pieces of work that received minimal recognition whilst he was alive. Yet 121 years later, Van Gogh is one of the most studied artists in history with his paintings exchanging hands for tens of millions and his expertise universally recognised.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

This week saw the loss of British IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon in a horrific crash in Las Vegas. His death sparked emotional messages and a wave of tributes to his life across the social media world, but yet it must be asked how many people were truly aware of Wheldon’s list of achievements before his death.

Competing in one of the worlds most dangerous sports, racing at some 220mph alongside 30 other drivers, Wheldon has been an IndyCar series champion and taken notable wins at the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 and 2011.

Despite these achievements, it is rare to find any articles on IndyCar in a British publication. The sport’s limited coverage in the UK obviously accounts largely for the low level of media stories that normally appear, however this week saw every top broadsheet pay tribute to Wheldon.

Even in far more popular sports, such as horse racing, that has a huge audience across the country the main news stories are dominated by the jockeys, with the trainers often creating space within the article. However in September every headline was focused around just one man, Ginger McCain. The trainer behind the legendary Red Rum past away after a battle with cancer at which point his credentials were celebrated across all media streams.

 In some ways it’s a natural reaction. As a typically modest nation many achievements are never truly appreciated until after the event in which reflection occurs however some achievements are clear at the time and still receive no publicity. Is it really a case that the public don’t care, or rather that editors as a whole decide that we don’t?

With the vast array of information available on the internet and the ease of sharing information by social media surely now it should be easier than ever to spread the word of so called “minority” sports?

The average individual can only handle information on a certain number of events and with football able to fill six pages of a broadsheet alongside hourly updates online; if every sport were to receive the same level of coverage it would surely be an issue of information overload?

Is it not time for more sports to achieve a greater level of coverage? Is it really necessary to have unlimited coverage of football, rugby and cricket?

Sadly, due to such biased coverage, many of our country’s finest talents, of which Dan Wheldon is undoubtedly one, fall below the radar and the recognition they so richly deserve comes a moment too late.

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