It is in his landmark of Butte aux Cailles, in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, when he is not facing the island of Bréhat, that the Academician, passionate about sport, received Extension. It was mid-May, the shutters of the house as blue as the sky that day. An hour of interview around the question of sports narrative, imagination, boredom, faced with the immediacy of the time, live television, the overconsumption of images.
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Should we show everything, see everything in sport? Isn’t the story dead of our time, at least on the verge of extinction?
My passion for sport began with the radio and the imagination it carries. I listened to France before seeing it. Georges Briquet told the stages and France. We were in July, in Brittany, with an uncle who sold agricultural machinery. Every day, like the enthusiasts that we both were, we sat on either side of the radio and listened. I had a map of France in front of me and I followed what he was saying. The uncle said what he knew or didn’t know about all that. I took the Tour by the face of the imagination, which gave me this same feeling of reading in relation to the cinema. When you read a book, everyone makes their own film. The country entered my ears, just like the great Anquetil-Poulidor battles, just like Bobet. As my parents and my grandparents told me a lot of stories, the imagination worked at full capacity. It’s a key. I didn’t start seeing sports on television until late, in the mid-60s, around the age of 15.
When the television turns on, it is therefore a shock. But what kind?
I told Christian Prudhomme, the boss of the Tour de France: France came into my life through the Tour de France. It is so beautiful our country, extraordinary diversity. Basically, with television, I have gained enormously on the landscapes, but less on the confrontation of the sportsmen. I don’t think I need TV to see the runners, only to see France. The Tour is the radio; France is television. I am passionate about geography and history. It’s strange but, for me, the story does not need images.
“We live in a time when you have to fill, produce, consume. Yet when you imagine, you create”
Robert Chapatte, in the 80s, was already worried about live broadcasts of stages in full. For him, the imagination was in danger.
In the same way, the multiplication of our children’s activities kills boredom, yet a source of imagination. It’s like fallow land in the agricultural world, it has a purpose, it allows the land to replenish itself. We live in a time when you have to fill everything, all the time, produce, consume. Yet when you imagine, you create. I always say that a reading is 50% for the author and 50% for the reader. All reading is a co-creation. Basically, it’s the cameraman who gives you the angle, who dictates what’s interesting. I absolutely don’t need TV to see the Anquetil-Poulidor mano a mano. I absolutely don’t need to watch golf on TV when I have Denis Lalanne’s epic tales. There’s a kind of overconsumption, it’s not good for the narrative. I agree with what Chapatte feared.
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