Rather than wait for columnists to bait readers into blind Internet anger, we at SB Nation believe in setting the curve ourselves and doing so honestly. On Troll Tuesdays, we attempt to construct the most obnoxious column on earth. Today: Let's talk about Lance Armstrong.
This land is your land.
This land is my land.
From California, to the New York Island.
From the Redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters.
This land was made for you and me.
Pardon the interruption, but sometimes it's important to remember what it's all about.
This week, Lance Armstrong reportedly confessed to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance enhancing drugs to win his record seven Tour de France titles. Now we're all talking about Lance. The last great American hero is in the crosshairs again, and I can see the media getting their pitchforks ready from 100 miles away.
A crusade for truth and accountability, they'll say.
Or a crusade for web clicks.
You say tomato, I call a spade a spade.
The truth is there's nothing to see here. Nothing new, anyway. I applaud Oprah for giving Lance a platform to tell his story and I look forward to hearing the man in his own words, but nobody will listen. Nobody will even watch. All that matters is Lance is officially admitting he "cheated", and now the door's open to tear down another hero and stain our memories with a scandal. There's nothing the media does better these days. In a culture that thrives on negativity, it's a race to the bottom and we're all wearing the yellow jersey.
So here's a question: Does it matter if Lance took performance enhancing drugs?
If I told you that the 1980 U.S. hockey team was taking performance enhancing drugs, would it change the way we remember the Miracle On Ice?
Of course not. The Soviets were probably doped up to the gills, just like Lance's competition. This isn't steroids in baseball we're talking about. This is the world stage, and the playing field's not always level. If you can't roll with the big dogs, maybe you should stay on the porch.
Personally, I like it when America's the biggest dog of all.
It's remarkable that all this is coming to light this week, too. Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, and late last night I was struck by the way his wisdom applies today. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," MLK once told us.
Lance Armstrong matters. I don't think anyone can argue with that much. So no, I won't stay silent today while a bunch of desperate columnists take their best shot. Lance took a nation of cynics and made us believe in something bigger. He beat cancer, beat the world, and made us believe that we could do it, too. Call me crazy, but I think that's a memory worth remembering.
Don't be another critic, America has plenty of those.
Me? I like to think I'm still a believer.
There's an idea out there that Lance took performance enhancing drugs for himself. For the money, the fame, the endorsements. Another Bonds or Clemens, say the critics, fooling the world and reaping the rewards. But what about the lives he changed? The speeches he gave, the charities he founded, the books he wrote, the cancer he beat.
How can a man who did so much for everyone else possibly have been out for himself?
If Lance Armstrong was cheating to win, then maybe he was cheating for us. And maybe the wins were so inspiring that it doesn't really matter how he did it.
"A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death," Dr. King once said. We're not going to let a bunch of soft-minded men miss the bigger picture in all this. Lance Armstrong's heart is one-third larger than a normal human being's. His beats 200 times a minute, and pumps more blood and oxygen than yours and mine combined. Maybe performance enhancing drugs helped, but it's fair to say that Lance has been a different breed all along. Literally, Lance Armstrong has the heart of a champion.
America's in the mountain stages right now--grinding through tough times, looking toward the finish line, looking for a reason to keep fighting. We can look to Lance for an example, or we can read the sports pages this week and decide that everything we loved was a lie. Should be we a nation of soft-minded men? Or should we Livestrong?
It's not for this columnist to decide.
All I can do is tune in to Oprah's show this week to hear an honest hero. To applaud his honesty, not penalize him for it. And then I'll turn off the TV and cherish the memories. Nobody asked for a reason to care about cycling and believe in the American spirit, but Lance gave us one anyway. He deserves to ride into the sunset on that bike of his, pumping his fist into the Texas sky. It's up to you to decide where you stand, but that's the Lance Armstrong that America deserves. That's the Lance we've had all along.
This Lance is your Lance.
This Lance is my Lance.
This Lance was made for you and me.
Way back when, it was the sweetest song we'd heard in a long time.
Don't let the critics change the lyrics.