Calhoun's Cannons for Jan 18, 2013
Oh, Lance, just go away. Shoo. You're a liar and a cheat and a fraud. Worse, you sued and trashed and defamed and injured people who dared tell the truth about you. You effectively turned your sport into a laughingstock and brought your own charity into disrepute. Now you run and plop yourself down on America's premiere confessional -- Oprah's couch -- and boo-hoo that you're so sorry and now can you please be allowed to return to racing, please, please?
No. You can't. You're an idiot. Go away.
Good Lord. Have we all gone mad? I mean, bicycle racing? Really? Well, Lance is not alone. The Baseball Hall of fame recently inducted exactly zero new players because the proposed list was nothing but dopers and cheats. It's a punishment uniquely suited: In a sport obsessed with stats, the numbers racked up by these steroid-filled sausages are now forever tainted. Though some of the more addicted fans are still hedging. After all, they say, a number is a number. Yes, it is. So why not just make up all the numbers in the first place? After all, once you divorce a true, clean performance from a number, it's all meaningless.
In 1919, when Shoeless Joe Jackson had to admit that he fixed a world series for money, the world was genuinely shocked. How quaint. Nowadays, nobody is shocked because everybody knows that it's all about the money. That's what drives our whole sick, faked-up sports enterprise. Not the sport itself, not sportsmanship, not personal best, not achieving a goal. Money. Win the Tour de France and you're worth a bundle, baby. Lose it and you're a nobody lost in the pack, working a day job so you can buy flat tire repair kits.
Bulk up and smash your brain into early senility (or brain-damaged suicide) on the gridiron and get that million dollar contract. Ruin your body with steroids to get those out-of-the-ball-park hits and the majors come calling with sacks of money. Do neither, simply play the game clean, and you're bupkis. That's the way the fans like it. More, more, more, higher, faster, harder. The more violence, blood, and excitement, the more the branded merchandise sells! And if there's a price to pay, well you can be sure the fans won't be paying it. The athletes will. They're our bought-and-paid-for gladiators and they're expendable once their sell-by date passes.
Grist for the great American Corporate/Entertainment mill. Movie stars dying of alcoholism are jeered at on the blogosphere and splashed all over the tabloids because their dying sells those papers, baby. A deranged bullet-through-the-heart football player requests his brain be autopsied to prove the obvious: football head injuries are killing the players. He hopes maybe his death will bring about a change in the skyboxes. It won't.
And Lance Armstrong, not content with the extraordinary feat of overcoming cancer and winning a Tour de France, has to dope so he can do it again and again and again, like some coke addicted rat pushing the food-pellet bar, unable to stop, until it dies of sheer exhaustion. And the fans and the sponsors and the press ate it up, fed his addiction, wanted more, more, more and willed themselves to believe that this was all true because it was such a wonderful fairy story with such a happy ending. Trompe l'oeil as Triomphe du monde!
Instead of knowing it was all too good to be true, knowing that life doesn't operate like that, knowing that the Tour de France is such a brutally hard race that the odds are stacked against anyone winning it twice ever, let alone winning it seven times in a row.
And so we end up on Oprah's Couch and America is asked once again, Do we keep the whole killing fake fantasy game going? Or call it? Since it's all about the money, I know which way America will roll.
But for me, it's simple. Lance, here's a paper bag. Put it over your head. You're an idiot. Now, go away. Thank you.