Thursday, October 18

It's not just about Lance Armstrong

So Lance is left with pretty much nothing now.  He's been stripped of his Tour de France titles, his Nike deal, his chairmanship with the organization built on his will to survive.  He's been abandoned by scores of people no doubt, who see that he is no longer their path to any kind of vicarious glory.

I agree with Dan Wetzel that both Nike and Livestrong have misstepped here.  Here's an alert to Nike and every other sports organization supporting anyone in cycling for the past decade: drop them all.  Drop them all.  Everyone who has biked with any of the teams implicated through this doping scandal.  Anyone looking at Miguel Indurain yet?  After all, he won five Tour de France titles in a row.  Maybe he's a little worried he might get stripped of his titles, too.

And while we're sniffing out drugs, what's happening in those baseball clubhouses?  Or in those football training rooms?  Seriously.  Does anyone really believe that no athlete is still cheating?  Still using drugs?

I don't condone drugs, but I'm not sure I blame them.  After all, have you listened to the media?  Have you heard and read how commentators rip into players for not playing to the level of their talent?  How did we even know what an individual's actual level of talent actually looks like any more?

We can't ignore the fans.  Fans have such a ridiculously high expectation for wins, they have no patience for the player who has a bad.  Like fans have never had a bad day at work.  It's just lucky for the fans, that they don't make mistakes on national TV in front of thousands (maybe only hundreds) of paying spectators.

So if self-righteous organizations like Nike are going to abandon Lance Armstrong, they'd better sever relationships with every single athlete with which they have an endorsement agreement; otherwise, they're just being hypocritical and grandstanding.

American sports arenas have become versions of the Roman Colosseum.  And we know what happened to the gladiators who lost.

Shame on them, yes.  But shame on us, too.

Wednesday, October 17

Why do you have to be so mean?

It starts with a small jab.  Just a little remark.  Maybe even sort of intended as a joke.  But it sounds a little off; not quite as funny because it was only sort of intended as a joke.  So the reply is a little sharper.  And before you know it, the tone and the tension has escalated and people are ready to throw punches.

There are a lot of very real haters, and then there are those who just make a lot of noise and toss way too much negativity into the universe.  Can we talk sports for a minute?  I get rivalries.  I think it's great to have a strong rivalry for a lot of good reasons.  But then are people who seem to genuinely hate the opposition.  I mean "hate" in the full ugly sense of the word.

I live in Bears country; Chicago Bears, that is.  I'm a Packer fan.  There are folks with whom I can share some friendly gibes back and forth, but we have tremendous respect for the athletic ability on both teams.  I mean, you've seen Brian Urlacher play, right?  What I don't get are the people who seem to take that rivalry too far and who say the most hateful and ugly things.  To what end?  It's not as though they're suiting up and getting crushed on the field.

In early October Chiefs fans cheered the head injury of their QB, Matt Cassel.  Players sounded off about that, and rightly so.  It's bad enough to cheer for any injury, especially of someone on your own team.  It's downright sickening to cheer for a head injury.  Dislike the guy, but don't wish serious injury on him.  That's just unconscionable.

Also recently I've read on Facebook about political signs being stolen from yards.  Not too long ago I read of a woman, we'll call her Joan, who was shocked she was unfriended by a friend, we'll call her Susan, on Facebook.  Susan told Joan she'd refriend her after the election; apparently Susan just wasn't up to reading whatever political drivel Joan posted on her Facebook page.  So. . . Susan is telling Joan that she's willing to be Joan's friend as long as Joan doesn't say anything with which Susan disagrees?

Then we get to the actual politics.  $332 million spent on TV ads.  The  majority of money spent by both camps is for negative ads.  People claim to dislike negative ads and yet, for some reason, they work.  But do they work? Do they really work?  Or do people just get worn down?

The media seemed a bit giddy about the tension between Obama and Romney in the most recent debate.  What really got my attention was the observation that it was clear that neither man likes the other.

So, think about this.  They don't have to like each other, but wouldn't it be amazing if they actually respected the opinion of the other?  After all, whatever they spout is opinion or position, and subject to change. 

And if the two presidential candidates started to exhibit some respect, perhaps even debated rather than pontificated, maybe, just maybe, we'd get something done. 

Because if the two presidential candidates agreed to disagree, but talk about the actual facts AND agreed there might be some value in some of the ideas of the other party, then maybe, just maybe, the people in the Senate and the House might start to do the same. 

And then maybe, just maybe, people would start to respect the opinions of others and have actual discussions rather than try to wear each other down and then decide the other is a jerk for failing to agree. 

And then maybe, just maybe, if there were actual discussions, there could be actual solutions.

And then maybe, just maybe, other people would start listening and discussing rather than arguing and unfriending each other because they don't see eye-to-eye on everything.

And then maybe, just maybe, the world would be a little nicer and a little less mean.  After all, bullying is bullying.  Whether it's online or in presidential debates.