Friday, June 15, 2012

A Pointless Lance

     Cancer. We have all been affected by it in some way, shape, or form. Whether it be through the loss of a loved one as I have, or through the suffering of those inflicted by it, cancer is by far the most researched and prominent disease in our world today. Because of the press and the stories about our own unbearable pain, organizations like the Susan G. Komen and others have poured billions of dollars into research for cures. Celebrities aren't afraid to voice their support either, as stars ranging from actress Christina Applegate to Sharon Osbourne have supported cancer organizations. None the stars however, are as active in campaigning or as polarizing as cyclist Lance Armstrong.

     Armstrong has been the guiding light for cycling for years. Who would be a better representative than a man who only has one testicle? While I say that in jest, Armstrong's story was the perfect one for his sport. The man had testicular cancer that spread to his brain and lungs and still won seven Tours de France. He was Tim Tebow, at least in a come-backy way, before Tebow was even a time of day. The man even appeared on popular children's show Arthur as a character named Vance Legstrong, inspiring a young child to do his best and to have confidence. The man is a good person. At least I hope he is.

     Armstrong has been a leading supporter of cancer research, as was stated above, and has even considered a career in politics to support his cause,, though he ultimately sided against it, fearing, and rightly so, that if he campaigned and was elected as a member of a certain party, he would alienate members of the other, effectively slashing support he would have had as a lobbyist, which he and his Livestrong organization act as. He helped with a proposal, which the state of California is in the process of approving, that would put a $1 tax on tobacco products, the proceeds going towards cancer research, effectively cutting risks for lung cancer while helping find ways to cure the others. His impact on cancer is not what has been questioned as of late, as his record of charitable actions is undeniable. The issue, at least to most of the mainstream media, is that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

     I really don't know if Armstrong did performance-enhancing drugs, nor do I care. All I know is that he never failed a test, and that the allegations against him are from disgruntled teammates and very elaborate as well. That's all that anyone can prove beyond a reasonable doubt as of now. I know what Livestrong has done for the world, and I would still support him if he was proven to to use drugs. What Lance Armstrong has done for cancer patients and the entire world far outweighs any sort of bad. He instilled hope into the hearts of millions. He took cancer, looked it straight in the eye, and gave it a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the groin. The greatness he achieved made me believe I could do anything if I put my mind to it, just like Armstrong did. I looked to him for inspiration when I tore my labrums in both of my hips. Well, ripped is an understatement...think shredded, as I couldn't kick a soccer ball without screaming, but I digress. Armstrong's contributions to the medical field and to cycling are undeniable. Hell, if he asked me ten years ago to help him dope to win,  I probably would have done so for the sake of those bed-ridden through the atrocities of cancer like my uncle was. That's not being selfish, that's being selfless. If Armstrong saved one life a day juicing, the whole universe would support him. He has.

Image retrieved from:

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Love of Country?

     The Olympics have always taken my breath away. I remember watching US swimmer Michael Phelps win a record eight gold medals in one year. I remember watching Jamaica's Usain Bolt utterly destroy the competition, winning the race in style while beating his chest, though it cost him an even lower world-record time. I remember watching dreams come true, and I fear all of that may be coming to an end.  I am worried that the Olympics, arguably the one pure form of competition left and where athletes compete for love of country, not for money, will become akin to what people are trying to make college athletics-a moneygrab for it's competitors and nothing more. I fear that those who do compete for the love of the game are few and far between, and most likely do not come from the United States of America.

     When Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat came out and said that he wants to be paid for his time on the Olympic Basketball team, I immediately asked myself, "Why?". Wade already has his millions, and I assume he loves his country, so why would he want to demand payment for something millions of people would do for free? He's greedy. It's a natural instinct to want to be fairly compensated, I get that, and I understand where Wade is coming from in regards to his desire to receive payments, or at least a percentage of the profits from every jersey bearing his name, but why? Because the Olympics are becoming the world's biggest advertisement for an athlete's talents and endorsement opportunities. Get on the podium, get your millions in watch deals. It's simple really. I'm fine with that. Companies need a face to be competitive, whether it be a gorgeous supermodel  or a talented athlete, and the Olympics give an athlete a stage to audition on. But in their heart, the Olympians know that the hopes of a nation rest on their shoulders. They compete for the love of the game, not for money. At least they're supposed to. Wade's comment sounded eerily similar to the argument made by proponents of paying college athletes. People go to college to prepare themselves for the rest of their lives, and play sports because they can, not to play sports then drop in on a few classes. Collegiate athletes will tell you that they play to win a championship, not for payment. The same goes for some professionals, who stay with one team their entire careers for the love of the game, even though they could move to more marketable teams. Therefore, if one college can offer more money to a player than another university could, the player would almost always go to the school offering more money. The same concept applies to the Olympics. If John Doe is theoretically able to compete for three different countries, then he will most likely compete for the nation offering the most money to compete, not necessarily for medals as is custom now, putting smaller, less developed nations at a disadvantage, sucking the soul out of the games in a ruthless monetization of citizenship.

     The real issue, at least for me, is where is the love of the country? The Olympics are the embodiment of nationalism, or heroism, of athletic immortality. There is no drive to compete if one knows they will get paid regardless. The only incentive someone should need for competing in the Olympics is knowing they are going to battle for their country in a (mostly) bloodless war for dominance. Do you think the Miracle on Ice would have happened if there was no drive to compete? The ragtag team beat the Soviet Union for a reason--that they were representing the free world-- and they knew it. They accomplished the impossible, but they had to continue competing. Would there have been a drive in the gold medal match against Finland if they received their compensation beforehand? I'm not sure, but it's a valid question. The true beauty of the Olympics lies in an athlete's desire to perform for his country without getting paid for simply showing up.  Why even have a competition between nations if it is simply another way for athletes to make money, not to represent their love of their country? The moment Olympians start getting paid will be the moment it will lose it's soul.

Images Retrieved From: