When did we replace scientists and statesmen with sports stars? When did you decide to put your faith in Lyle Alzado, Michael Vick, or Barry Bonds instead of Linus Pauling, Jimmy Carter, and John Coltrane? But then again, maybe it wasn't us, it is not a modern phenomena, I think the Greeks and the Romans also exalted the athlete and warrior. So don't blame modern society.
As a fan of 'other' sports, I tire of defending the Michael Claretts, the Albert Belles, the Robby Alomars and have pretty much ceased my attendance at the 'other' professional sports. No more NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, PGA - and don't get me started on the piggish behavior of the entire OSU athletic department -from football to field hockey.
Besides, cycling was/is my sport. Pure beauty. We have all learned that the strongest riders in June were the athletes suffering on some trainer way back in December. It is indeed a noble sport, but like any other human activity subject to cheating, and in the pro peloton GREED. Vinokourov wanted to repeat his successes to fund his team - millions were at stake. I'm sure he thought "if I don't get caught, it isn't cheating." We want to believe Tyler, and Floyd (I really want to believe Landis), and Ullrich - but the culture of cycling tells us differently.
Will pro cycling survive? Yes, but not in the form it is now. I think the pros in Europe have to downsize to the level of the US racing system. When the top riders make $130,000 instead of $1.3 million the cheating factor will be reduced (but not eliminated). We know there will be no more Discovery team next year, and no Astana, no more Cofidis, and no more Gerolsteiner. The big dollars will dry up as the corporations run away from cycling.
I have not lost my faith in cycling, but I have killed my heroes.
I continue to be inspired by a long list of riders that probably will never be written up in CycleSport or interviewed on Versus, they include; Jeff Braumberger, Pascale Lercangee, Fred Parks, Mark Bell, and Ernie Lechuga.
Anyone else out there have names of cyclists that inspire you?