Armstrong hurts. A lot.
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 22:08
This week, cycling icon Lance Armstrong was stripped of all seven of his Tour de France titles by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Armstrong himself said he will not appeal the decision, all but finally admitting to taking performance-enhancing drugs.
This event caps a few-week span that also saw Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon and San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera each suspended for 50 games for taking PEDs. Their suspensions, coupled with a positive test last fall for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and reigning N.L. MVP Ryan Braun, suggest the ugly truth that baseball’s PED problem did not end after the Mitchell Report in 2007.
News like this would have rocked the sports world a few years back, but at this point, it barely seems like more than the small story of the week. These things happen so much that the general public looks upon them with indifference, not outrage.
I, myself, was strongly against steroids and other PEDs back when the problem first became public -- around when Barry Bonds was closing in on the homerun record -- but at this point, even I am bored by it. As long as the players from the teams I root for are not the ones getting suspended, I don’t really care.
It is a little sad to think that so many people find inspiration in these athletes for their accomplishments, and then have to see their heroes are not so heroic after all. It’s too bad drugs got so bad in sports that this cynical apathy is now the norm, but the fact that it is should serve as a lesson: Sports is not the place to look for heroes. Not when things like this are so commonplace.
Armstrong hurts a lot more than Bonds or Mark McGuire because he inspired so many on a higher level than any of them did. He did everything after beating three types of cancer. He was living proof, not just of what humans could work to achieve, but what they could do after looking certain death in the face. He used his fame to fund cancer research (Remember those Livestrong bracelets?) and inspired people to beat the disease as well as to be the best athlete.
Alas, it was an idea built on lies.
Real heroes are people who do things to help change the world for the better. Putting all our hopes and aspirations in people just for playing a game well, only to find out that they did so by cheating, has changed the world for the worse.