Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lance, Minus Seven

We just finished reading Noah and its story of the flood.  The portion begins: "Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age..."  The central, and unanswerable, question about Noah is: was he righteous just in comparison to his terrible generation or would he have been called righteous in any generation?

Yesterday we learned that Lance Armstrong will be stripped of his seven Tour de France victories.  No one will be awarded the victories in his place.  Too many others were implicated in the doping scandals.  All potential victors are tainted.

My children know that it is never justification that everyone is doing it.  If it is wrong, it is wrong. If it is right, it is right.  Right and wrong must stand on their own, not on the shoulders of others.  Our actions must stand for all generations.  The fact that so many other cyclists were doping is no justification for Lance's actions.  Doping provides an unfair advantage.  Worse might be Lance's self righteous denials.  "What am I on?  I'm on my bike, busting my ass six hours a day.  What are you on?" he said in Nike commercials.  Now we find out that such statements were false.  The evidence against Lance appears overwhelming.  He cheated!  He bullied!  All for the sake of winning.  He was indeed on more than his bike.

Still he inspired so many, especially cancer survivors.  Robert Lipsyte, for instance, writes in The New Republic: "Don’t cry for Lance Armstrong. That bully can take care of himself. Watch out for the righteous, wrong-headed anti-dopers, distracting us from the more immediate and perilous concerns of orchestrated violence. And follow instructions: Pedal hard. Take responsibility for yourself and be brave."  I still like that advice.  I wish however that Lance really led, even if it would have been from the rear of the peloton, and that he actually lived by his own words that he was only pedaling really hard.  

Will the greatest lessons of the Tour be these races that now have no victors, that ended up actually being about the thrill of cycling and what the Tour's founders believed all along, the superiority of two wheels over four.  Winning really isn't everything.  Going faster is not always the best medicine.

Note to self: try remembering that when you want to take the lead on the next group ride.  Instead just enjoy the ride and the company and perhaps even the scenery.

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