The Marvin Musquin Question

Behind Keefer's A1 Press Conference Controversy

Marvin Musquin at A1 SupercrossPhoto by Shan Moore

As I sat there listening to all of these very “typical” questions being handed out by the media to the riders at last week’s Anaheim One Supercross press conference, all I could think of was, “Isn’t anyone going to ask how Marvin Musquin and his brother are doing?” But even as I wondered this, the press conference talk revolved around the standard statements of, ‘my bike is working great, I’ve been training hard, you’ve got to take the season one race at a time’, etc. There was no real substance, just the usual fluff.

For those who don’t know, Marvin’s brother Mickael suffered a serious spinal cord injury back in August of 2015 while racing in Europe. What a lot of people don’t know is that I have witnessed disability on a very personal level; growing up as a child and for most of my adult life, my mother was disabled. Because of this, I have a lot of empathy for the Musquins’ situation. Although I never raced at the level Marvin is, I had a decent professional Supercross career, and all the while my mom sat home in a wheelchair. To say that it affected me while I was traveling across the world racing at times would be an understatement.

As the microphone got passed from each media member, I felt a sense of compassion and curiosity on how Marvin’s state was, how Mickael’s injury is progressing, and how he was doing back in France. So, I grabbed the microphone and asked the question. “Coming into your rookie season in the 450 class, how are you doing mentally with your brother’s injury and how is Mickael doing”? I immediately heard the lady sitting in front of me gasp. As I sat there listening to Marvin’s first 15-20 seconds of his answer, I could tell that the heaviness of this topic was very near the surface for the young Frenchman. The emotion of talking about his brother’s injury was just too much for him, and eventually the MC of the event, Jamie Little, moved the press conference on.

At this moment, the thoughts raced through my head. “What did I just do? I am a test rider and a journalist, but maybe my journalist card just ran out?” As I sat there watching Marvin break down in tears, I immediately felt horrible for even thinking such a question, let alone asking it to him in front of his racing peers. Was this a question that was appropriate for a press conference? Most of my colleagues would say no. Was it a fair question? Yes. Was it a malicious question? Not at all. A couple minutes passed and my phone began to blow up with social media notifications about “Keefer has no heart”, “Keefer is disrespectful”, and a lot of other things I can’t post up on here. The fire had officially started.

As the press conference ended I immediately made my way over to Marvin and his wife, Mathilde, to apologize. As expected, they were not happy (and I don’t blame them), Mathilde did most of the talking and was shocked I would even ask that kind of question in a press conference. They felt that was a better question for a one-on-one interview. All I could say is “you’re right” and “I am very sorry”. I think I said those two phrases eight or nine times during our quick verbal exchange.

So all of you may be wondering: What the hell was I thinking? Well, I already knew Marvin did an interview with “Le Big” for Racer X and the French website LeBigUSA about the situation, and as I read his interview, I began to think how tough Marvin is as a human being and a competitor. I couldn’t imagine doing what Marvin is doing and being able to ride at that level, having an injury like that hit so close to home. It was a real question that most of us as fans would want to know. I am more interested in Marvin Musquin as a person, under the helmet, than the racer Marvin Musquin. So, while I wasn’t expecting the reaction that we all got on Thursday January 7th, and maybe I could have asked this question at a later time, I am glad that all of us got to see first hand how tough Marvin really is. Remember, just because a rider shows emotion off the track doesn’t mean he is not a tough SOB on the track. It means he is human just like you and me, but he has an almost superhuman ability to turn the switch on and off better than you and I can.

Sometimes we get lost in that these Supercross riders are warriors and we avoid any type of question that is “real life”, or the riders tap dance around a “real answer”. These guys have emotions and problems just like the rest of us and they continue to race and perform under extreme amounts of stress. Marvin showed that yes, although Mickael’s injury weighs heavy on his mind, he is going out to do his job and do his best for his brother. This is why we all should be cheering loudly for Marvin this Supercross season. I know I will be.