July 26, 2005

Lance Armstrong


From The Detroit Free Press: Armstrong goes out on top with seventh Tour title.

PARIS -- He stood stock-still, right hand covering his heart, and listened to the U.S. national anthem being played along the wide boulevard of the Champs-Elysees. And just like that, it was over.

The moment Lance Armstrong had alternately dreaded and dreamed about in the deepest reaches of his competitive soul hit him full force. He stared straight ahead and drew his lips tight, the only way he knew to keep the tears from being loosed.

But a bit later, as he addressed the crowd from the victory stand Sunday following his unprecedented seventh straight Tour de France victory, Armstrong delivered a defense of his sport in a parting shot that rang out as defiant instead of tearful.

"The last thing I'll say to the people that don't believe in cycling, the cynics, the skeptics, I'm sorry for you," Armstrong said, alluding to those who think he and the best riders use performance-enhancing drugs. "I'm sorry you can't dream big, and I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles.

"This is a great sporting event, and you should stand around and believe, and you should believe in these people. I'm a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live, and there are no secrets. This is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it. So vive le Tour. Forever."

UPDATE -- July 27: From the Ayn Rand Institute: Lance Armstrong's Heroism Is a Moral Inspiration by Andrew Bernstein.

When Lance Armstrong rode through Paris on Sunday, crowning his unprecedented seventh consecutive victory in the grueling Tour de France, he put an exclamation mark on what is more than merely an extraordinary athletic career.

By this time, the entire world knows Armstrong's story--his remarkable recovery from what was feared to be terminal cancer, his exhausting training program, his legendary endurance, his dauntless determination, his unequalled dominance of cycling’s premier event. Millions around the world properly celebrate him and his lofty accomplishments.

But what explains the enormous interest in Armstrong's success--or that of any other sports hero? Why do sports fans set such a strong personal stake in the victories of their heroes? After all, little of any practical significance depends on such victories; a seventh Armstrong win won't get his fans a raise or help send their children to college. Why do sports have such an enormous, enduring appeal in human life?

The answer lies in a rarely recognized aspect of sports: their moral significance. What athletic victories provide is a rare and crucial moral value: the sight of human achievement.

Posted by Forkum at July 26, 2005 10:01 PM