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ST. PAUL… Last week in an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey, former cycling champion Lance Armstrong finally came clean to the world about his use of performance-enhancing drugs in his pursuit of cycling victories, records, and fame. My take is just about the same as a lot of media who have written about this story in that I think Armstrong’s admittance to what many had suspected for years is just a bit too little and a lot too late. After years of staunch denial, to hear Armstrong confess at this point, shortly after being stripped of all major medals won in the sport, frankly comes across as some kind of grandstanding.
How did Winfrey become the one to whom Armstrong would finally spill the beans? I’m not certain what the answer to that might be. Did she pose a less threatening environment to do this in than a Bob Costas or Bryant Gumbel? If that’s the case, then Armstrong is an even weaker individual than I already believed him to be. Alas, I know it is easier to pass judgment when you haven’t worn the shoes of the other, but questions abound, and apparently the majority of the cycling sport has or had been dirty for many, many years.
Peer pressure or even one’s own desire to win or one-up others can be a dark guiding force at times. When Armstrong first considered using PEDs in order to get an edge on his competition, did he ever consider staying clean and steering clear of them, and if that relegated him to infinite runner-up status then coming out and exposing the others? Was the cycling world, as MLB did for years, looking the other way? After all, while Armstrong was busy piling up Tour de France wins, the sport enjoyed a spotlight it had never basked in prior to or since. So why did they finally decide to “execute” him? Could they no longer deny the challenging inner forces of integrity?
So many questions and a lot fewer people who care about the answers anymore. But really, we should care. Our society and our world has become a place of those who cheat and of those who don’t. Far be it for me to get on the moral soapbox, as I have had my own failings as a person. But today we seem to be in crisis mode, relatively speaking, with the consequences far reaching and harmful to so many. I don’t really need to go over the list for you, but we have had the Wall Street holdup of the world (no guns were even used), our own government routinely lies to the populace, and in the world of big money, business, and politics, lying and cheating seem to be the norm rather than the exception.
And why not? We have a two-tiered system of justice that punishes the masses for the criminal behavior they may get caught for, while elites, even when caught red-handed, walk free with impunity. For the commoners possessing illusions of grandeur, the bigger question might be, why wouldn’t you cheat? Of course, that’s false hope because if you get caught you will get punished, and if they get caught they just call their lawyer and go about their business knowing their consequences will be minimal at best.
Even Armstrong, who has amassed a personal fortune from racing and endorsements, will still live a pretty good life even after the fallout has settled. I don’t view him as a person who will sit around for long and engage in self-persecution. I believe he just thinks he was only doing what all of his competition was. There was a time when our athletes, politicians, and business leaders were our high ground. We looked to them to set the examples to be followed. Too many of them are now the cesspool. And now we have, or did have, guys who felt they had to cheat in a bicycle race. Yes, a freaking bicycle race. Why? Why not… PEACE
THE LONG AWAITED START of the NHL season has finally arrived, and I have to say that I am revved up at the knowledge that we now have all of our levels of hockey, from mini mites up to the show, up and running. The Minnesota Wild were able to debut their new and revamped roster and welcome home Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, and Mikael Granlund, amongst other new additions. They bested the Colorado Av’s by a 4-2 score. The much-anticipated game was a SRO sellout, and fan reaction (after a weak first period) was huge. The club followed up Saturday’s win with a 1-0 squeaker Sunday eve over the Dallas NorthStars before another full house.
HOCKEY DAY in Minnesota was another big success in spite of some challenging weather and falling temps. From the minis to the big guys and gals, it was all hockey, all day. Very awesome.
TWO ICONS of baseball have passed on to that big diamond in the sky. We lost the most famous St. Louis Cardinal of all time, Stan Musial, who passed away at the age of 92. And former Baltimore skipper Earl Weaver, easily one of the most colorful guys ever, at the age of 82. Weaver got tossed out of a Twins-O’s game once. After arguing with the ump for some time, drawing the ire of the Twins faithful, on the way off the field and to the clubhouse he doffed his cap and bowed to the booing fans, earning himself even more derision. Yes, absolutely classic.
THE MFAN NFL PLAYOFF PICKS:
LAST WEEK: 1-1
OVER & OUT!
Marc Elliott is a freelance sports opinion writer who splits time between his hometown in Illinois and Minnesota. Elliott grew up in the Twin Cities with many of his childhood neighbors working or playing for the Vikings and Twins. He participated in baseball, football and hockey before settling on hockey as his own number one sport. Elliott wrote “The Masked Fan Speaks” column for the Lake County News Chronicle for ten years and was a prominent guest on the former “All Sports” WDSM 710AM in Duluth.