Media, mind your own business

How the NOC*NSF stayed with the facts, but then the media got involved

The entire sport-loving world was glued to the television last summer during the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, so were the Dutch. How excited were we all when our ‘Lord of the rings’ Yuri van Gelder qualified himself for the Olympic final? But then, he messed up and was sent home by the NOC*NSF. A lot of questions appeared in the media. What was the role of the media or did the NOC*NSF did something wrong? Last week I have read a blog on this topic, which I partly agree with. Still I see some things in a different way, which I would like to share.

In short, this prior blog states that the NOC*NSF did not take the importance of more information for fans in to account. I do not think that the fans should be the most important thing here, van Gelder, the Olympic Games and the NOC*NSF are what really mattered. As this study describes, when constructing media content on a certain topic the larger culture should be taken in to account, which means that in this case the media could have thought of the magic Olympic sports culture. Also according tot this study, the power of frames should be taken in to account. So be aware of the impact something might have on, in this case, the athlete himself. I think it is harsh that a lot of media content on van Gelder was disrespectful.

(“..And think about it Joer. If you win, just a glas of soda..” Source:

So, the blame frame…
I do agree with the prior blog that there was mostly a ‘blame frame’ present in the media. The media might have done this to create entertaining news content. As this study stated, that might result in falsified content, which is actually misleading. And yes, that is partly what happened. But not completely due to the information the NOC*NSF provided, the media choose to highlight one part of their information. This news article is a good example, the media highlights the alcohol abuse as a reason for sending van Gelder home. Where does the NOC*NSF actually say that this was the precise reason? He speaks about rules and unacceptable behaviour. The alcohol abuse is one part, the ground on which they actually made their decision was that van Gelder missed a training the next day. And yes, missing a training due to a hangover is not a valid reason.

From a PR perspective
According to the prior blog when we look at this case from a PR perspective “The simple explanation that van Gelder violated the rules guiding sport performance overlooks the impact on the fans”. Indeed a simple, incomplete statement is not a good way of practicing PR, it could cause damage for several groups involved. As explained in prior paragraphs, that is in fact not what the NOC*NSF did here.

In short
– Van Gelder was blamed guilty, which he was.
– The media made the public think in a certain way, about van Gelder as well as    the NOC*NSF.
– NOC*NSF gave the information needed and protected their athlete.
– The media sometimes should respect others and mind their own business.


About the author

Helen van der Weij (25) is a Dutch Master student, in Corporate Communication, at the University of Amsterdam. After studying Art History and finishing a Bachelor in Communication Science and studying at the KNVB/UEFA academy, she hopes to find a nice job in PR or media after receiving her Masters degree. Working as a soccer trainer is nice, but it is time for something serious now. Want more information? Check my LinkedIn profile!

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