By Kristi Paxton
In view of the recent Lance Armstrong scuttlebutt, I have only one question to the American people. (And that includes me): Why are we surprised?
We love our sports. We love our sport heroes. We love winning!
Outside of the sporting life, we also admire the guy at the top of the heap. We’ve all grinned at the bumper sticker: The One Who Dies with the Most Toys Wins. We promote “the ends justifying the means.” We brag about our successful son or our rich uncle. Rarely do we mention the path taken to success. Was it a fair and moral journey? We don’t care. We just drool over the end product.
How about schools? Some of our most admired students at Harvard recently cheated their way through an important examination . . . but got caught at the last minute. Bummer. Had they not been discovered, we would have admired the young leaders right to the top of their successful companies. The student who sold the answers probably would have become (and will indeed become) one of our most admired businessmen.
Why are sports any different? When scandal, such as the bicycling doping issue, lifts its ugly head, sporting proponents get up on their pedestals and moan that one bad athlete or another has ruined the culture of a fine sport. We saw it with Penn State’s assistant coach and now we see it with Lance Armstrong. Finally caught with their pants down. Two lousy guys ruining two pristine sports. Yeah, right.
The truth is, the culture of most sports is a win-at-any-cost culture. Break any rule you must to win. Just don’t get caught. Basketball’s undetected elbow; soccer’s swift trip, football’s clever holding and now cycling’s carefully placed blood chemicals. Tiny infractions. Infractions usually not caught. Infractions generally rewarded with trophies, fame and lots of money.
I hope the recent Lance Armstrong fiasco opens a new conversation about cheating. I welcome it, but I doubt that it will ever happen. We love our culture of winning much too much for this. SHHHHHH. This too shall pass.