I don’t know how to feel about <a href=”http://sports.yahoo.com/sc/news;_ylt=AjdyquKWBkZ9qF.8l_W_dpk5nYcB?slug=ap-armstrong-comeback&prov=ap&type=lgns”>Lance Armstrong’s return</a>. I tend to want my retired athletic heroes to stay retired. Call me old fashioned. But, I read an article during this summer’s Brett Favre drama that convinced me that the whole idea of legacy and pleasing the fans is a little silly. Each athlete should do what makes him or her happy, not what keeps our mental image of them intact. So if Lance wants to hop on a bike again and attempt to prove that he’s got it, more power to him. I’ll follow the story, but I won’t have nearly the interest in it, or make the investment in time and emotion, that I did during the era when he dominated the Tour de France.
Accepting that does not clear him from criticism, though. He’s become a bit of a gossip page regular over the past years, and some have argued that his playboy ways have come to overshadow both the memory of his career as a biker and his efforts with the Livestrong foundation. I don’t know about that. When I hear his name, I still think of him riding up the Alps in a yellow jersey, no matter who he’s dating.
However, I do think it is a bit, I don’t know, sad, disappointing, frustrating that he is yet another supreme competitor that can’t turn those energies off. He seemed like someone who would make a good transition because of his focus on cancer research. Clearly that hasn’t been able to fill the void. While I admire him for his drive, determination, and epic commitment, I also feel a little sorry for people like him, Michael Jordan, etc. that are so driven that they can’t give up the thing that best quenched that thirst. Remember when Jordan seemed like the coolest, most together guy in the world? Since his final retirement, we’ve learned that he’s a bit of a freak, and probably not someone you want your kids to emulate. I fear Lance is heading down that same path, where a life of doing good and making a difference isn’t enough, and instead he becomes the sad, old guy who is hanging out with people half his age in an effort to prove he’s still got it.
And then there’s the whole doping angle. I still buy into his argument that he was tested time and again and never tested positive. But I’m not naive enough not to understand the best athletes are always ahead of the testing curve. The Tour has probably made the biggest and best strides in all of sports at nabbing offenders, and they damn near wiped out last year’s race they were so efficient in catching people. Maybe Lance is going to continue to pass every test and performance baseline they can throw at him. Maybe he always was and always will be clean. But I dread the headlines and resulting drama if he does ever fail a test.
So welcome back, Lance. I guess.