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Response to Ltr. to Ed. in Chronicle "Stop Bashing the Saudis" and Alison Paschall

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  • Response to Ltr. to Ed. in Chronicle "Stop Bashing the Saudis" and Alison Paschall

    I wanted to send this in to the Chronicle but recognize it wouldn't timely make it to print. I hope if others read the Letter to the Editor in the October 22, 2010, they too would have strong feelings about what was written.

    Melanie Smith Taylor was one of my idols in the late 70's and 80's and having seen her teach over the years found her to be a consummate professional and respectful of everyone. It is woefully unfair for Ms. Alison Paschall to try and soil an Amercan gold medalist in the manner in which she did. Given Ms. Paschall was not born when Ms. Taylor represented the United States or still in diapers, she should learn about someone's background before making such ignorant comments!

    In response to Ms. Paschall’s Letter “Stop Bashing the Saudis” I would encourage her to watch a program more than once before making such mis-statements. Perhaps in her excitement of watching the final four she was not truly listening to the commentators. YouTube has “Abdullah Al Sharbatly: WEG Final Four” which excerpts his final four rides. The commentators note during his first ride on his horse that he was “the surprise of the group” a “meterioric rise, starting day one at 61st and gradually working his way up to end 4th”. Noting that he came to train for the London Olympics and “finds his way at the top.” On Hickstead commenting on how well he rode a bold horse to a clear round. On the ride of Vigo d’Arsouilles that he was the “underdog and unknown coming in” but “he rode with such confidence all week to get to the final four”. While he looked very nervous warming up, including circling away from fences, he “handled his nerves”. That the crowd was rooting for the underdog and “recognizing this youngster.” On HH Rebozo noting that Abdullah was the “surprise of the competition” and “impressed everyone with his riding skill”. That he is the “best story of the competition” such that he finds himself top four. Commenting on the last combination on Rebozo “just beautifully ridden”. The commentator, Ms. Taylor noted how impressed she was that he partnered with his new mount after only six weeks together and reached such immediate success. To this observer it was apparent that Commentator Tim Ryan was asked to focus on the biography of the riders and Melanie Smith Taylor on the horses and the skills of the various animals.

    Ms. Paschall’s comments that Ms. Taylor couldn’t say anything good about the Saudi’s and said nothing negative about the Americans, is evidence that Ms. Paschall simply wasn’t listening! Ms. Taylor in fact praised the Saudis and commented on many mistakes of the American’s. Based on the various commentating excerpted above, Mr. Sharbatly was received well and introduced to the world as an excellent rider/competitor by these commentators. Given Ms. Paschall has never ridden a Grand Prix horse nor had to face what these riders faced, she is in no position to determine whether a rider looks nervous. Given Ms. Taylor’s Olympic success she is certainly able to recognize the nervousness of riders and the reaction of the horses to make such observations and comments.

    To make such a comment about these commentators and infer racism just shows the author’s ignorance. The programming appeared well-balanced for all portions of show jumping and I trust we will see Tim Ryan and Melanie Smith Taylor for years to come commentating for NBC. Ms. Paschall owes Ms. Taylor a personal apology for her outrageous comments in the Chronicle.
    Last edited by sunshinestate; Nov. 2, 2010, 11:23 AM. Reason: TY danderonice :)

  • #2
    It's "idols", not "idles". Also, there is no apostrophe in the plural form of "Saudis."
    Author Page
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    • #3
      Originally posted by danceronice View Post
      It's "idols", not "idles". Also, there is no apostrophe in the plural form of "Saudis."
      Really? Was this a worthwhile contribution to this BB?

      I tend to agree with the OP. I didn't think Melanie Taylor was tough on the Saudis. Surprised? Yes, a bit. But critical...no.
      * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis


      • #4
        Regardless of the flag they ride under, when someone comes out of the nowhere (to us) and makes it to the top like that, we are surprised. America loves an underdog and I think we were all thrilled to see his success. I never at anytime felt as though Melanie was being condescending. She was literally speaking what was on our minds: Who is this guy and where did he come from?

        Granted, while he's been riding for quite some time, we've never seen him covered in any media prior to WEG.

        And personally, I appreciated the correction from 'idle' to 'idol'. I haven't proofed my post so hopefully someone will let me know if I missed anything.

        "If you have the time, spend it. If you have a hand, lend it. If you have the money, give it. If you have a heart, share it." by me


        • #5
          I have watched my dvr of that broadcast multiple times and never even for a second thought there was any disrespect to any of the riders.


          • #6
            The grammer police out in force yet again not adding anything to the conversation but annoyance. I thought Melanie did a superb job commentating and did not for a second think she said anything that could be misconstrued as condescending,racial,or snarky. Some people just need to get a life.


            • #7
              Chill, it was one person's opinion... like you know what everyone has one. FWIW I do agree with you


              • #8
                I watched that competition with no knowledge of where he had come from or how, and loved to hear the background from Melanie. I thought she was surprised, as anyone would be given the facts, but could feel her appreciation for his skills shown. I was so moved by it in fact, that at the end, when he rode the 4th horse so well, I teared up about it! I was so proud of that kid for doing what he did! And I would only have known about the value of the effort by Melanie's comments, none of which were ever negative, only pleasantly surprised.

                What a great rider he was that day! Who knows what the future holds in store for him...
                "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

                Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Madeline View Post
                  Really? Was this a worthwhile contribution to this BB?

                  I tend to agree with the OP. I didn't think Melanie Taylor was tough on the Saudis. Surprised? Yes, a bit. But critical...no.
                  If the OP remotely considered sending it to a real publication, and wanted to look illiterate in print, I should hope so.
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                  • #10
                    I think when it comes to sports commentators and their commentating in these types of situations its not about the country per se it's about the athlete and a respect/admiration tney have for them excelling in a sport where a country might not be known for producing athletes that excel in a given sport. Look at the Olympics and the parade of athletes - some countries might have one representative others 600.. Remember that movie Cool Runnings? Who would have thought Jamaica would send a team to the WINTER Olympics - but they did... When you think of show jumping stars a Saudi rider didn't come to mind but mostly US and European riders. Australia has developed superb 3-day riders, not so many dressage or show jumpers...When one thinks of top 3 day riders Croatia doesn't exactly come to mind...so if a young Croatian came to WEG, rode a spectacular dressage test, was a machine cross country and flawless show jumping... the commentary would have been pretty similar... Most of the commentary I heard about Abdullah Al Sharbatly was about this accompllishment at his AGE, not his country. Any commentary I heard about a rider's country was pretty matter of fact and not at all political.. Why do some people insist on trying to make something politically incorrect or racist when it is just not there... One movie critic did the same thing to Secretariat.. it's pathetic


                    • #11
                      I am astonished that this woman, Paschall, would write "I'm disgusted by what I hope was not racism" about commentary by Melanie Smith Taylor. Melanie is not only an icon to the United States Equestrian Team, but a wonderful human being that goes out of her way to help everyone. For this person to make such horrible comments shows her insensitivity, especially in light of the fact that Paschall was WRONG and clearly did not listen to the commentary at all if she made such comments.

                      Knowing Melanie, as I do, I am sure she is hurt and devastated by such comments being made about her. One can only hope she did not read that Letter to the Editor. As to Paschall, shame on you!! I hope to see an apology forthcoming from you.
                      horse show diva dot com


                      • #12
                        So if it was so far off base, why did COTH publish it?
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dags View Post
                          So if it was so far off base, why did COTH publish it?
                          I wondered that, actually.

                          I didn't find the TV commentary to be off-track at all, and certainly not racist in any way.

                          The Saudi rider was a fresh face and complete unknown to most horse people watching the broadcast, especially compared to the other riders in the final round, like Rodrigo Pessoa. How was it remarkable to comment on that fact?

                          I was thinking most of the things that Melanie said, IIRC. Who is this guy, where did he come from? Look how well he's done for himself this week!


                          • #14
                            The Chronicle letters policy is to publish EVERY letter submitted. Here's our policy...

                            LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - The Chronicle will accept letters that refer to a previously published article, photograph or letter. Letters must include a name, address and signature, and may be edited for publication. Mail to: Editor, PO Box 46, Middleburg, VA 20118 or email to letters@chronofhorse.com.

                            When the Chronicle office received the letter to which the OP is referring, we offered Melanie a chance to reply. She declined, very classily, hoping to avoid a conflict.

                            If anyone would like to submit a letter in reply to the letter already published, they're more than welcome. We are extremely receptive to publishing reader response and generating discussion.

                            Molly Sorge


                            • #15
                              Was anyone in the COTH Cover-It-Live room during the final four? Lots of talk in their about "how the Saudis bought all the good horses," so yeah, I have to say that, unfortunately, I think the letter in COTH did touch on a number of feelings that people may have, veiled or otherwise.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Tha Ridge View Post
                                Was anyone in the COTH Cover-It-Live room during the final four? Lots of talk in their about "how the Saudis bought all the good horses," so yeah, I have to say that, unfortunately, I think the letter in COTH did touch on a number of feelings that people may have, veiled or otherwise.

                                If they had the money and desire to buy the best horses, and then succeeded with them, that's a statement of fact. Not racism.


                                • #17
                                  Molly, thanks for the clarification.


                                  • #18
                                    Tha Ridge, I was involved with the Chronicle Cover It Live discussion during the Final Four at the WEG, and no Chronicle employee made any kind of reference to 'buying a medal' or any such thing.

                                    If there were such comments, they were from readers logged into the blog.

                                    I actually wrote an article, coming out in the Nov. 5 issue of the Chronicle--our WEG Analysis issue--about the globalization of show jumping and the emergence of the Saudi riders as a factor.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      No one should be upset with COTH printing the Letter to the Editor as they should print what is sent under the name of the contributor. It is great they offered Ms. Taylor an opportunity to rebut and because she has class she chose to not respond. The commentary and coverage speaks for itself and everyone who watches it can see the truth. The sad thing is that Chronicles last for years and this girl's comments will too. That is the unfortunate reality here.


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by sunshinestate View Post
                                        The sad thing is that Chronicles last for years and this girl's comments will too. That is the unfortunate reality here.
                                        Well, then, that would be an even better reason to submit a different view to the magazine so it's also on the record.