This week’s sordid stories surrounding Lance Armstrong have already been well ploughed, but I can’t resist the chance to offer a few observations.
First, Lance’s carefully orchestrated “confession” to Oprah reminded me of the occasional chats I have with boys who are in trouble. During these heart to hearts, boys are ALWAYS earnest in expressing sorrow, but the challenge is trying to determine if they actually regret what they have done – have they actually learned anything from the experience — or are they simply sorry that they have been caught.
Lance’s sudden decision to come clean has a Machiavellian feel to it, and what makes his offence particularly galling was his deliberate, intentional, mean-spirited and systematic approach towards ruining those who had the courage to speak out — and to speak the truth against him. The Lance Armstrong case is about so much more than a lie about a bike ride.
Years ago we may have nodded in admiration when Michael Jordan announced he was retiring in order to spend more time with his family, or understood when Tiger explained that he loved the early bird specials at Denny’s. Today, though, we live in more cynical age. If our boys seem a tad more jaded by the latest celebrity misdeed, we can attribute some of this poisonous cynicism directly to Lance Armstrong.
Lost in the flood of pieces about Lance’s lies was the passing of Stan “the Man” Musial, the legendary star of the St. Louis Cardinals. Stan’s gentle demeanor and his ego-free approach to life in the big leagues stand in start contrast to the shameless self-promoters of today. Before Musial’s last game, Ford Frick, then baseball commissioner, offered this tribute: “Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”
Where have you gone Stan Musial?