(Article changed on January 18, 2013 at 12:35)
(Article changed on January 18, 2013 at 08:24)
(Article changed on January 18, 2013 at 08:22)In the book Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut (if I am not mistaken) there is a scene when a 65-years' old man gets a note from the central computer. In that note it tells him that his records indicate that he cheated on his Phys. Ed test when he was 15. Thus from that point he is stripped from his all titles and credentials until he retakes the test which he is welcome to schedule in his old High School.
I remembered this during the interrogative session with Lance Armstrong by Oprah, all those 'Yes or No'- questions, as if she would come at him as some cop with the lamp shining at his face. Come to think of it - it was rather laughable when a billionaire was grilling a multimillionaire on the matter of honesty. I especially loved the scene where Oprah expressed a contempt regarding Lance previously suing people for them saying he was taking drugs. Boy, she of course never sued people or did anything bad to defend herself. She is as white as a snow, pardon my simile. I am not here to investigate her though. I just feel a little bit uneasy. Don't we all? Like I would feel much better if she would say something like, 'You seem to destroy lives on your scale similar to G.W. Bush did on his.' But no, she did not say that. We here are considered honest until proven otherwise.
Let's return to sports though. Hemingway in his Movable Feast wrote about cycling competitions with a motorcycle at the start and even he mentioned that those folks sipped spirits from hidden bottles. Hemingway did not write it with contempt or disgust. He knew that world well and he knew such things to be inevitable; even then too much money was involved. But now the amount of money in sports is unbelievable, it is an industry like a financial one;, so if there are firms or banks too big to fail (and corporations are like people, right?) why cannot a person be similar or at least be treated with the same benevolence? If Alan Greenspan could say those words about 'his model of world to come out wrong' and get away with it, why a person who actually earned his millions in the grueling world of sports is to be dragged through all that mud? Yes, he sinned but his sin was at least as big as his goal. I would advise some people who lament now to try to relieve at least a part of his life.
Folks, you know one of the Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin was not a saint at all. He not only had a child out of wedlock but also took advantage of that poor woman. He was a promoter of slave trade once, he cheated on his duties repeatedly and some people said he also stole his lightning rod idea from someone else. He got a letter once from one good American who compared him and his (that man's) father stating that although Ben Franklin was a great man for many, his father was a great man for his family. Franklin politely replied that everyone chooses his destiny.
I am far from professional cycling but I was a professional chess player. Chess only looks like some kind of a relaxing game; it is one of the most exhausting both physically and mentally. We were teenagers and many of us had nervous breakdowns and physical problems. Doping was not an option; we had no drugs available and also due to simple fact of one- to-one interaction doping would not save us. But we had all kinds of psychological tricks at our disposal and many of use used those, some with more and some with less success. I am not ashamed to mention that- we never got any money for this and none of us ever harmed anyone else.
It had become obvious to us though through that experience that unnatural was very rare and if it happens too openly it means there's something fishy. Those unbelievable speeds, those super-maraphons, those bulging muscles and huge limbs- they are all not real, they all should be looked at with a grain of salt. But we also know that nobody wants to look at it that way ( like rather recently there was a series of revelations about fixed Sumo wrestling matches and no one gave a damn); we EQUALLY love the victory and defeat; we love to feel GOOD ABOUT OURSELVES. So if the poor bastard wins- we tell our kids that they could be like him and if he falls from the pedestal- we tell them that they better be like their fathers and mothers. It is a win- win situation for us because kids have a very short memory and do not challenge us.
Now we lament that Lance deceived us all. We of course don't mind being deceived by the govt and corporate shills, by the media and our bosses, by our own family members, by our children and even our dogs. We don't mind being deceived by our pastors, our financial gurus, by all those who deceive us every day, every minute, every second and laugh hysterically at our idiocy and our complacency. No, we don't mind them although they are much smaller personalities. We are mad at Lance, a man who beat cancer and happened to stay alive, who immersed himself into the brutal world of his occupation and fell. Really, like Kennedy said, victory has many fathers and defeat is an orphan. But defeat also is a prey. We are preying on it.
I would advise to say to your kids the following:
It is not up to us, those who consumed the image of Lance to pass a judgment. Now you know how complex and cruel his world is; let him be because your world is much more easy and protected. If you go into that world be prepared to equally approach the success and failure and ' risk everything on pitch and toss'. Look at this man as a real man on the peak of success and in the depth of failure and learn how to be a man in this world.
Ben Franklin was a man. Ecce vir, that 's how he was called. His victories were as big as his failures. We better understand that if we want to live a meaningful life. Turn off that Oprah stuff and get back to work, folks. We have no stake in this.