The gray area in our sports culture is getting larger and larger. The most recent culprit of the “you’re not who we thought you were” trend is Lance Armstrong. His story has been coming out little by little now for years with 60 Minutes Sports giving the most updated version last week. Months earlier, one of Armstrong’s teammates went on 60 Minutes to reveal the USPS teams’ doping, including that of Armstrong.
Meanwhile, the 7-time Tour de France winner vehemently denied any wrong doing. Finally, he decided to stop protesting (while still maintaining his innocence) and he was stripped of all of his titles. Yesterday, news broke that Armstrong plans to admit to doping in an exclusive interview with Oprah – confirming what we essentially already knew. Lance Armstrong was not who we originally thought he was.
Once the evidence became more and more clear that Lance’s titles were far from clean, I started to get that feeling that I’ve become too accustomed to getting recently. That “oh man, it was all a lie” realization. Everything that I saw and got so excited about was not real. And to be honest, I’m sick of it.
Steroids in baseball helped shatter every sacred record while creating an era that we now need to differentiate from the rest of the game’s storied history. Steroids forced former Olympic champions like Ben Johnson and Marion Jones to resign in disgrace. Now cycling has been hit hard with its own scandal – one that goes so far to the top that it accuses the Cycling Union of giving information to Armstrong on how to beat the drug tests. Just like baseball turned a blind eye to steroids because the extra offense peaked fan interest.
I’m just sick of being lied to. I love sports and I love being a fan but I’m tired of being taken for a fool. I understand that in something as competitive as professional sports, the players are always going to be looking for an edge. Players moral compasses should be better but it’s on the leagues to ensure the integrity of their games. No matter what the upside is to looking the other way, it can’t outweigh the costs to your game when you get caught. And you will get caught – even if it takes decades for the general public to become wise.
I don’t think that I’m asking too much. Players should want to compete in a clean environment and commissioners should care about the integrity of their respective sports. Money drives all but as a fan that’s not a good enough excuse. I’m sure cheating has been going on since the beginning of time but I can see a sports world where we can look at extraordinary accomplishments and celebrate them – without first questioning whether those accomplishments are legitimate. Maybe I’m crazy but I’m optimistic. I’ll never stop being a sports fan but please make it easier for me to care and clean it all up now. So that feeling of fraud stays away and the competition can be enjoyed the way it was intended.