By now most of you have probably seen the video from Stage 9 of the Tour De France where the TV car swearved into the peloton, knocking down several riders, sending them flying. See that cyclist careening into the fence? That fence is barbed wire. I'm serious. No anvils fell on anyone's head and the Road Runner is not being sought for questioning, but the cartoonish accident made me shake my head and do one thing when I saw it - I laughed.
Man, I laughed hard. Why? Because it's funny.
"You think people getting hurt in an accident is funny?" You may ask.
Sometimes. Sure. Call it my daily does of schadenfreude, but it is funny to see a sporting event (a world sporting event mind, you, not some minor sport with a regional interest but an event so global that its results run in every sports newspaper or site the world over) that finally does physically what it has done for so many years - unable to move forward without getting out of its own way and embarrassing itself along the way as it runs over its own future.
The bumbling this week is only a microcosm of the ongoing downward spiral that professional cycling is in these days (decades?). Rampant drug allegations throughout the sport actually force fans into a personal "sporting decision" - is professional cycling no better than a tinier, less athletic, more boring version of professional wrestling but on a global scale? Is the Tour De France nothing more than the WWE on two wheels?
Lance Armstrong will eventually be found to have doped or used Performance Enhancing Drugs or steroids or Human Growth Hormone or something else. (Many somethings else I'm willing to bet. Probably all of them.) Previous champions like Floyd Landis and Alberto Cantador already have been found guilty in the court of public opinion if not by any of the various sanctioning organizations for their drug allegations.
What's worse then the eventual guilt that will befall Mr. Livestrong is the haranguing pursuit by the French authorities for years to nail Armstrong. Let's not forget, it is called the Tour De FRANCE so you can't blame the French for being a little upset that a foreigner (an American, no less) infiltrated their sport and dominated in historic fashion.
But the constant pursuit of the French has actually won over millions of fans to Armstrong's side. But putting your faith in public figures is a dangerous business and I'd like to caution anyone who defends Armstrong to learn from the recent public lies that Greg Mortenson and James Frey carried out in front of the entire world. Fans of Livestrong will eventually have their faith in Armstrong be rewarded the same way people (like myself) who supported the apparent altruistic efforts of Mortenson who conned the world with his book "Three Cups of Tea" and lied about his accomplishments. Anyone who fell for Frey's lies in his book (and the ensuing controversy about his lying) "A Million Little Pieces" knows the disappointment all too well too of believing in a stranger's story of overcoming great odds only to find out it was a lie.
The Tour De France is simply boring. Tiny guys powering through beautiful countryside and historic towns just doesn't smell sporting to this American nose. After all, don't people spend their hard-earned money to vacation by cycling through the French countryside? As a cyclist who has to battle vehicles every day, I find it difficult to have much sympathy for guys who are paid to ride through spectacular scenery. (Though if I had to get launched into barbed wire you can bet I'd want to get paid. In cash.)
As a cyclist, I feel like a traitor saying it but the Tour De France is boring, antiquated and, thanks to endless drug accusations, insignificant - just like professional wrestling. There is no reason to watch the Tour De France. Well, until one of their own supporters decides to drive his car right into the riders sending one cyclist flying into a barbed wire fence.
When that happens, I'll watch. Just send me the link because it won't be on my DVR.
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