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Lance Armstrong – A Lesson In The Futility Of Sports Royalty

For today’s post, I want to depart from the normal news and political chatter we normally discuss and focus on something that I believe is travesty, both in America and across the world. For decades, Lance Armstrong has been the epitome of toughness and grit in the world of sports. He managed to beat cancer, no small feat there, and then came back to win the Tour de France seven years running. He was heralded as a superstar and he became a millionaire because of his victories and the resulting endorsements. All of this took place amidst accusations of doping.

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As everyone is sure to know by know, Lance Armstrong has admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he has been guilty of doping for about 20 years. Never mind that he has denied it throughout his career, he’s admitting it now. It seems it is the worst-kept secret of the sports world, but the only people who seemed to care were the organizations that oversee the sport of cycling. The fans didn’t seem to mind and maybe that’s what kept Lance Armstrong going. Maybe he was doing it for the fans? Not a chance! He was really doing it for the money and fame and once he got a taste, he was addicted.

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The most troubling part of this entire story is the attitude Lance Armstrong has about what he has done. Fox News has a portion of the interview on their website. I thought it was very telling in what it shared.

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“At the time it did not feel wrong?” Winfrey asked.

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“No,” Armstrong replied. “Scary.”

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“Did you feel bad about it?” she pressed him.

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“No,” he said. “Even scarier.”

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“Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?”

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“No,” Armstrong paused. “Scariest.”

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“I went and looked up the definition of cheat,” he added a moment later. “And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.”

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Lance ArmstrongYou will have to forgive me if I sound a bit skeptical about Lance Armstrong and his admission of guilt. I have no insider knowledge of the affair, but I get the sense he is sorry he was found out, not sorry he cheated. Just a thought, but why is he confessing to Oprah Winfrey, instead of to the organizations he has lied to for 20 years? I wonder if he doesn’t still have a leg in this game and is trying to work it all to his advantage?

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Why the title of this post, A Lesson In the Futility of Sports Royalty? I can’t tell you how many people I know who absolutely idolize the players of our most popular sports. When Adrian Peterson was playing for the Oklahoma Sooners, he was already being heralded as one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game of football. That heralding is even louder after his remarkable comeback after having his knee surgically repaired. I am not trying to take away from his ability or desire to win, but he is still just a man who is being paid millions of dollars to carry an oblong ball up and down a 100 yard field of grass or artificial turf. He is also the man who proclaimed NFL players should be likened to slaves.

Lance Armstrong is a perfect example of how futile it is to lift up a player of any sport. No matter what sport, or if they are a man or a woman, they are still human, just like you and I. Lance Armstrong is a man who cheated at the sport he was involved in. Nothing more and nothing less. Our society should recognize that and realize the mistake so many of us make by acting as if these players are royalty.

Hmmm, that sounds like some of the politicians we have in Washington. Maybe this should also be applied to them.

About LD Jackson

LD Jackson has written 2053 posts in this blog.

Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

  • I always felt that he was cheating, he accomplishments always seemed too good to be true and this does speak to the height with which many people raise sport idols to. We have to remember that while they are the best at what they do in the end they only play sports for a living, they are not doing anything to better the community or the nation by their actions on the field and that is what is most important. Sports is a nice diversion from reality, but that is all it should be; too many people seem to think that sports is the end all be all.

    Another example is the reverence the sports world holds towards Ray Lewis, who was at a murder scene although it was never proved that he was actually involved in the murder, it drive me crazy to hear the way he is idolized. (I may he a little biased here as my Patriots are about to play the Ravens for the AFC championship.)

    • Well that shows you how much I follow sports. I had to look Ray Lewis up on Google to see who he was.

      Far too many sports figures, and other people in positions of fame, are given a pass for their behavior. It’s almost as if we are afraid to offend them. We should start recognizing that these people are just human. They put their pants on the same way we do and they are subject to the same laws we are subject to.

  • He has already been found guilty by the relevant organizations and has lost his titles, so he has nothing to lose by confessing. Unless, of course, his confession contradicts his own testimony under oath or he confesses to something for which the statute of limitations has not expired–and apparently he was very careful in the interview to keep from doing either of these things.

    The real question is, what does he have to gain by confessing? Nowhere in the interview or in any of his statements has he stated that he was willing to give up any of his unethical and possibly unlawful financial gain. He has more than $125 million in the bank right now–all profit from his cheating. This is a powerful motivation for someone like him to do something, anything, to avoid further punishment.

    • I can’t help but think he is working an angle with his confession. Call me skeptical, but I have seen too many people who were in positions of fame, some of them were preachers or leaders of religious organizations, who were caught with their pants down and finally had to confess to their misdeeds. Even while they were confessing, they were working an angle. Maybe I am just jaded. 😉

  • Even worse, the cancer he developed could easily have been caused by the drugs he took, or at the least, could cause a recurrence.He never addressed this, so what a model.

    • Yeah, he’s a great role model for the children of America. What a guy!

  • Let me preface this comment by noting that I really don’t care one way or the other. I’m neither a cycling enthusiast nor an Armstrong fan. I simply think there’s more to the story, thus I’m playing devil’s advocate.

    The problems with the USADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport are legion. These aren’t reliable and/or trustworthy institutions. Armstrong never actually failed a drug test, the accusations were always based on hearsay. The whole thing has always seemed, at least to me, more like a witch hunt than anything else. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck … In his relentless pursuit of Armstrong, the FDA’s Jeff Novitsky flat-out broke the law by leaking grand jury material to the media – a far more serious issue for the American people than a professional athlete “doping.”

    Did Armstrong actually break any laws? Not that I’m aware of. Did he break the rules of the game? Yeah, but is that a crime? Did it deserve this relentless media and prosecutorial witch hunt? I don’t think so.

    You can bet your bottom dollar that everyone Armstrong was competing against was “doping” too. This doesn’t make it right, but it does call into question the charge of “cheating.” After all, it was a level playing field (if everyone was doing it). And what is so inherently wrong with his “doping?” It’s bad for the body. Yeah, so is the extreme conditions he must put his body through to compete and win. How is “doping” fundamentally different from, say, using technologically advanced clothing and bicycle parts? How is taking an EPO injection any different different from producing excess EPO by training at a high altitude?

    What about lying? I probably would have handled it differently, but wasn’t he kind of forced into it? When you back somebody into an arbitrary corner …

    The biggest problem we face in America today isn’t lying “doping” athletes on a pedestal. The problem is that we treat lying, immoral and downright criminal politicians as Royalty, then merrily excuse their dirty deeds in the name of partisan politics. Take Romney, a man who openly advocated stealing from some to give to others, yet was none the less declared “a good man.” Everyone rails against Lance Armstrong, yet hardly anyone knows who Jeff Novitsky is … huh? Police brutality and straight up murder have become epidemic, yet we treat these “first responders” as if their lives are more important than ours.

    The American love affair with professional athletes is pathetic indeed, but it’s our idolatry of government and resulting “licensed immorality” that is truly tearing us apart.

    • I would not argue your points, CL. Especially the part about our idolatry of government and the way we lift some of these people up. Pathetic is a nice way of describing what takes place.

  • “I went and looked up the definition of cheat,” he added a moment later. “And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.

    Since probably most if not all of his nearest rivals were doing the same thing he’s right.

    That doesn’t excuse what he did.

    This episode highlights how much our culture, and sports culture, is becoming corrupted. Another example in a different vein is the football player with the fake dead girl friend.

    • I just wished Americans could see these people for what they are, no more and no less. Instead, we place them on a pedestal and act as if they are royalty.

  • The media loves to build these people up then tear them down again. The NFL became the biggest pro league in America by creating a heros versus villains storyline around each game. That model has been pushed by the media on every other sport and thus they build players up just to tear them down.

    As for Lance Armstrong my issue with him isn’t that he used steroids. Everyone in the Tour de France was using steroids when he was, it’s cheating yes but he didn’t gain a competitive advantage from it because everyone else was using. I have a real problem with the sports morality journalists who pretend like sports is some sort of pristine event while ignoring the gamblers and drug dealers only to be shocked, shocked by their existence. My issue with Armstrong is that he knew he was lying while he sued countless people for essentially telling the truth.

    • You raise a good point about Armstrong lying and then suing the people who were trying to tell the truth about what he was doing. One would think he would be held accountable for that, if nothing else.

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