Big girls’ blouses: the new brave wimps

Did you watch the Boat Race coverage? I was struck by the way Dan Snow (who rowed in several) went on and on about how winning it was lovely but losing it marked you for life. I forget the details, but it all left a powerful impression of a generation of athletes for whom winning is a graceless necessity whilst losing is a psychological catastrophe. This is bizarre and applies to other butch moderns.

It’s of a piece with the way extraordinarily brave and fit youngish men like Ben Fogle seem terrifically drippy about, for instance, being away from home during their amazing expeditions. They’re forever blubbing about this or that emotional hit they’re taking. In a recent Antarctic adventure Fogle’s team seemed to be the very antithesis of the Robert Falcon Scott generation to whom they were supposed to be paying homage.

That was the obvious thought during the Boat Race. Here are a group of young men who feel honoured and blessed to be taking part in a great sporting event and tradition. I don’t doubt they are fitter, more committed, cleverer, harder working and altogether more out there and up there than any other generation. So why the emotional incontinence?

Above all, where’s the recognition that all these adventures have ben undertaken for fun?

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Publication date

04 April 2010


Mind & body