It’s boxing day, so i’ve spent most of the day sat in front of a television screen eating chocolate and other chocolate-based products. Usually when adverts are on, I take this opportunity to go for a wee or get more food. But today I had enough food and I didn’t need to urinate, so I sat sittingly* watching the advertisements. They weren’t very good adverts. There was one for Bensons For Beds with the most implausible married couple ever, and there was one for Compare The Market, which I still cannot believe is going on and the adverts now go on more about meerkats than whatever it is they actually do. But then I saw an advert. A Mazda advert. The very Mazda advert that is at the top of this post. And one line from it stood out to me. “It changed the entire world.”
A bit of backstory if you haven’t watched the ad. The first half – which is the part i’m going to be focussing on – tells us about Dick Fosbury, the 1968 Olympic High Jump Champion and how he did the high jump jumping backwards, which had never been done before but is now commonplace. The message of the ad is about doing things differently, going against the norm as it were. Which is a good message and they’ve chosen a perfect example. But the reason i’m typing up this little rant is the line I mentioned earlier. “It changed the entire world.”
At the start of the advertisement he says “I changed this event”, which is a good summary. He did. After he jumped backwards, everybody did it. So yes, he did indeed change the event. If you watch the longer video – which I can’t put in here because Mazda doesn’t allow embedding of it, but you can watch it here – it explains how he jumped backwards instead of the conventional jumping forwards over the pole in the high jump, and since then everybody jumps backwards.
But then he goes on to make the bold claim that it changed ‘the entire world’. Not just ‘the world’, but ‘the entire world’! Him jumping backwards changed the entire world?! Now, I don’t know about you, but before this advert i’d never even heard of Fosbury, let alone realised he was some kind of deity.
When I think of great people who actually did change the world, I think of Nelson Mandela, who fought for peace for many years. I think of The Beatles, who changed music forever and became a world wide phenomenon. I think of great men like Winston Churchill and William Shakespeare. I do not, however, think of a man who made people realise that jumping backwards made the high jump a bit easier. For all we know he could have done it by accident. He could’ve misunderstood the rules, or even done it as a silly dare to get a bit of publicity.
And the technique he used has been dubbed the ‘Fosbury Flop’. Again, I don’t know about you, but to me the term ‘flop’ suggests that it went wrong. If he’d have missed the pole completely and jumped under it, maybe then it could be called a flop. I guess they didn’t have much choice though. It was either that or the Dick Dive.
*pause for a moment while I compose myself after typing Dick Dive*
But surely they could have come up with something better than ‘Fosbury Flop’. Imagine him going for an interview and, when asked about his credentials, he says “I invented the Fosbury Flop.” They’d just laugh him out of the office! “And what is the Fosbury Flop?” “Well… instead of jumping over a pole face down… I jump over it backwards.”
But what do I know? Perhaps he should be worshiped by athletes and road sweepers alike. When he dies, maybe out of respect they will remove the high jump from the olympics. After all, who could follow such a master of the pole?! Maybe they should just ban jumping altogether.
One thing is for sure, the next time I jump up to try and reach an apple off a tree, I’ll remember Dick Fosbury and jump backwards. God bless you Dick. And god bless all the little Dicks out there who are jumping the wrong way because of one man! One incredible, jumping man!
What do you think of the advert? Is Dick Fosbury a living legend that should be locked in a glass cabinet and worshipped by all, or is he a man who did something quite interesting that loves to exaggerate?
*Sittingly is a new word i’ve apparently invented which is a way to describe how someone is sitting.