Lance Armstrong as a Product of our Obsession with Winning

I am in the process of writing a dissertation on the power of sports.  A timely topic considering that each season seems to bring a new story from sports that easily transcends the fun and playfulness that sports is intended to be.  When I first started researching for this project, the NCAA was finalizing their investigation into Penn State University and inflicting harsh penalties on a state sponsored institution that was involved in an unfathomable scandal that involved child rape and molestation.  All along this time, there have been countless stories from Major League Baseball regarding players who used steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.  There has been a major labor dispute in the National Hockey League which finally has been resolved, following a major work stoppage and costing millions of dollars in lost revenues for local businesses.  And these are just a few of the major national headlines . . . there have been many others that haven’t garnered the national attention.

Sports, as I am in the process of arguing, is a spiritual power.  It casts a shadow of power over all facets of life.  Sports are beautiful, life-giving, healthy, fun, and created by God.  But what have they become?  Lance Armstrong and his PED scandal is the stuff of soap operas – the kinds they can’t show on network television.  Dan Wetzel’s article has a really insightful perspective of the whole situation here.  In it, he goes on to state: “Armstrong isn’t necessarily a bad guy for doping. He is a bad guy for the way he used his immense power, fame and fortune to attempt to ruin anyone who dared to speak the truth to his avalanche of lies.”

Sports creates quite a dilemma when it comes to ethics.  It’s OK to fake like you are going to hand the ball off to a player, and then actually pass, or even more overtly, have you ever watched a team that’s really  good at running the triple option?  Deception is at the heart of most sports.  Deception, though, must be kept within the boundaries of play.  It’s not OK to slip a player off the slideline just before the snap and then throw him the ball – this is against the written rules of football (illegal participation foul for those officials out there – of if you’re feeling generous, 5 yards substitution penalty before the snap).  There are those unwritten rules of the game like not stealing the signs from the catcher from second base and kicking the ball out of bounds in soccer when a  player is injured . . . but how does all this fit into the larger ethical framework of the world?

MLB was apparently dirty for more than 20 years.  Players doping, injecting, and bulking up without any media scrutiny at all.  Watching home run chases and records falling, spectators fully suspended their disbelief – we were living in the age of incredible athletic marvels!  Truly God had blessed us to live in that time.   Cycling, it appears, followed the same course of action.  We love to see athletes at the highest levels.  After all, “Records are made to be broken,” we say.  But are there records that will never be broken – can’t be?  Without some kind of artificial help?  And is that artificial help always wrong?  Is it always unethical?

Those questions require more time and space than I intend to offer here, but I will say that Lance Armstrong represents a great case study for this tension.  Without his cheating, his philanthropy would have never come to fruition.  No yellow bands.  No cancer support network (at least not Live Strong).  And it catches all of us in quite a conundrum.  What are we to make of it?  If we can’t at least acknowledge our part in helping create the monster himself, I’m afraid we’ll never come to terms with the truth.  Lance Armstrong represents what we have done to sports . . . we have elevated it from the purpose it was created to serve – fun, pleasure, enjoyment, leisure, and have made it into a monster that dwarfs its powerful head into economics, medicine, politics, education, and everywhere in between.  Lance Armstrong deserves his share of negative attention, punishment, and the lot.  But he is not the only one to indict here.  Those of us who are insistent upon creating gods out of athletes.  Those of us who will enjoy the athletic events . . . and then ask questions later.  Maybe if we paid more attention to those who came in last place instead of obsessing over those who finish first we could solve some of our own problems.

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102 thoughts on “Lance Armstrong as a Product of our Obsession with Winning

  1. I don’t think the problem is obsession with winning. Winning is a means to an end. The ends are money and celebrity. Being a good athlete is just one way to achieve those ends. That’s not to say that we don’t have an unhealthy relationship with sports in this country because we (I) do. I’m just not convinced that winning was at the heart of the Armstrong story.

    • Oh, I think Winning IS the heart and soul of this story. That is what the writer is saying, that we all got so swept away by the Winning that we also enabled the Monster. As we do too often in sports when we (the sports fans) turn these human beings into gods, as the writer aptly says. Armstrong seemed to say in his interview (which I only watched partially, could not do the whole thing, too much SMH, you know) that it was all about Winning. Winning the war on cancer, then wanting to transfer that fierce will to cycling, then realizing that the Myth was so powerful (healthy post cancer athlete who wins TDF 7x, also happily married with children, etc.) that he couldn’t stop it. But the writer also brings up excellent point that there were some good things in this story. the charitable foundation, people and causes he supported.

    • I agree with Brian’s statement because everyone wants to be a winner but when sports star take performance enhancers its just to expand their god giving abilities. Lance should be penalized and look at very differently for the way he lied all the years about it but most sports greats have doped some time in there life.

    • There are many layers associated with this story and with looking at sport as a whole. Shirl Hoffman has researched the topic of sport and Christianity and has written some thought provoking articles. I am still processing the Lance story and believe that much more will come out in the weeks and months ahead. It is easy to make generalizations here and it is wise to adopt a more critical, but cautious, stance with regards to how we should respond to issues surrounding sport that run much deeper than the Lance story.

  2. I agree with you that sports are a spiritual endeavor because it is an intensely personal experience that gets to “what makes us tick.” I tend to I think of this problem as one of, ultimately, attachment and how dangerous it is for a person to identify themselves strongly with a group or idea. In this case, Winning is Lance, Lance is Winning. Reminds me of the Alabama fan who poisoined the trees on the Auburn campus who admitted, “I guess I just had too much ‘Bama in me.” Or, rather, he had too much of this thing he called “me” invested in the idea called “Bama.” And anything that is perceived as a threat to that self identity will be attacked.

  3. Very well written. If you look at the situation from an objective point of view then although he has ruined tens of lives by depriving them of the win and fame that they deserved; he helped hundreds of lives through his fundraising like LiveStrong.
    However, he felt the need to consistently deny his wrongdoing until a couple of days ago, when the only way to wriggle out of his situation was to come clean.

    • I think preventing others from winning by doping is the least of what he has done. His worst crimes were attacking others, innocent people, for merely speaking the truth. But this blog poses a very interesting question: Despite his cheating, maybe the good that came from it might have been worth it? This past couple of weeks I have read countless stories of people’s who were able to get the medical attention they needed because of the additional funding the live strong foundation was able to provide those suffering from various forms of cancers. At the end of the day, a race is simply race. But what the live strong foundation has done is saved lives! While Lance Armstrong may in fact not be the best role model, its hard to argue that he has, despite his cheating, actually made a positive impact in our world. And that’s something that goes beyond doping, or winning, or glory in my honest opinion.

    • Confessing after being caught is not “coming clean”. It is expedient. This is not Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart”. There is no heart here at all. This is just a confession used as a commodity for trade to the highest bidder.

  4. I have a strange relationship to sports. I was born and raised an avowed geek, and “sports” to me meant bullying and battering. There is a very deep-seated part of me that is convinced that if you show me a jock, I’ll show you a bully. I learned that young, and learned it for a long, long time. So at bottom, I view sports as nothing but formalized warfare, arbitrary and evidence of instincts embedded in our species that we would be better off without. First, you split things into two and only two sides. Then introduce savagery, resentment, intimidation, and violence … all for a worthless abstract thing called a “point” or a “goal.”

    That said, I was also born and raised in Philadelphia and while I remain a geek, I cannot successfully manage to ignore ice hockey. The speed and elegance of it never fail to astound me. I remember how the city upended itself in joy 38 years ago, and I can’t successfully manage to forget that either. Then, I tune into the avalanche of vicious, homicidal insanity that flies around during the season and realize that … well, even though I was involuntarily programmed to pay mind to it as a young child … yes, it still is formalized warfare and as a species, I still think we’d be better off without that instinct. This elegant, beautiful thing for me is repeatedly ruined by the life-and-death importance we attach to it.

    Clearly, the “sports are wonderful and spiritual and lovely and filled with chummy bonding moments” gene missed me completely.

    So I don’t see this as “our” obsession with winning. It was HIS obsession with winning. There was nothing whatsoever in this world that prevented Armstrong from simply riding his bike for whatever “spiritual” reward he got for being active, in good shape, and out under the blue sky. It was his own obsession that created him as a problem, and culminated in an arms race that effectively shuts off the entire concept of sports participation and competition from anyone but the self-destructive savages of the world.

    People like Armstrong are the reason why sports is the near-exclusive province of bullies and assholes — people who act like a “point” or a “goal” or “winning” is worth any amount of destruction, savagery, and violence enacted on other participants and on themselves. This is not rainbows and smiling dolphins here. I know this is a confrontational comment to leave, and I apologize for that, but every single time I hear people waxing eloquent on the glorious, elevating, spiritual dimensions of sports, I feel as if I’m listening to Martians.

    • fireandice – thanks for your comment. No reason to apologize for disagreement. Your point is well-taken and is helping me through my own inner dialogue on the subject. Your objection with sports seems rooted in the competitive element and that’s what I’m really wrestling through. I think there is beauty in sport. There is something to be said for those who push their bodies to the limits athletically. I’m about 30 pounds too heavy, and when I see someone who is in great shape it makes me appreciate the intention of my physicality. What could be. The more challenging part is trying to weigh how all this relates to the competitive element. My article kind of combines psychological and sociological perspectives. Psychologically, I think Armstrong self-obsessed with being number one. This may have been because he was power-hungry, because he has a huge ego, and probably all that and more. I am definitely not trying to remove his responsibility for all this. But, I do believe there is a sociological element as well. The culture in which he competes obsesses and glamorizes the winners. That’s where I was making my point, and I think it resonates with yours. Our culture has glamorized winning and allowed that to dwarf the sport itself. The “bullies and assholes” seem to be running wild – that I grant you. What I hope we can do is to salvage the good of sport – and I think there is good there. Thanks again for your perspective!

      • Thanks for your reply. I think sometimes that it’s rooted in mental wiring — there seem to be people who simply think more clearly if they’re up and running around. Some part of their brains fires well and clearly when they are moving. I don’t think I’m one of those people …

        And we’re definitely coming at the same point from different angles, that sports culture is obsessed with winning. I think I’m just saying that it is bound to be obsessed with winning, because sports as a whole is created by that limbic-system need that our species has with winning in the first place.

        I definitely think there is good in physical activity, and improving using oneself as a yardstick. It’s where we use other people as yardsticks that it gets problematic.

  5. I find it odd and distracting when someone makes a well thought out intellectual argument and then throws in, without support, statements like: “Sports are beautiful, life-giving, healthy, fun, and created by God”, or “Truly God had blessed us to live in that time.” It is unsupported, adds nothing to your argument, and shows we still haven’t risen above mysticism and magical thinking. Otherwise, good article.

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  7. Pro-sports certainly reflect on a variety of societal issues. These issues may have set the stage for the problem that became Lance Armstrong, but I really believe that Lance could have become the same success without winning those 7 races, via doping. Just the fact that he was able to compete after going through, and surviving, his cancer would have garnered an above normal amount of attention. If society’s issues were what pushed him to doping, it was because he latched onto the hype of winning at any cost, not because society pushed him to it.

  8. We’re never going to consider the person who came last, nor should we. What I do believe is that putting sports people on pedestals is wrong. Even wronger when they fall off them as they invariably do. People should look closer to home for their role models.

  9. Lance Armstrong has done nothing that any other professional athlete has done, the human body has to take boosters in order to perform at a professional level. The same drugs that Armstrong has admitted to taking, is done in the horse racing industry and is supposed to be banned as well, however when the drug testing is done in the horse racing industry they conveniently look the other way…the same way they did with Armstrong….after winning the Tour De France 7 times, being dope tested several times, suspicions of doping around him….they did the same as in the horse racing industry, look the other way. But only now in June 2012 was there a Senate hearing because horse trainers started using a new doping method called “frog juice” to make their horses win, far more potent then M99, Elephant Juice, Pregnant women’s urine was the choice before frog juice….it finally got out of hand and was brought before the Senate, a big stink was made about it, a couple of trainer’s got a 10 year ban, but now it has gone away and they still continue to use alternative drugs…my point being as long as their is money to be made and races to be won athlete’s whether human or animal will inflict their own bodies for personal wealth and self gain…the only difference is that the animals are forced into the situation by their owners and trainers!

  10. OK, the point that we are, in part, to blame for the cheating is fair and reasonable, but I disagree. Perhaps we do make too much of sports and heroes, but I think the cheating comes largely from elsewhere. I think that any time there is a way that a group of people can evaluate themselves relative to others, some kind of cheating emerges. It’s not the onlookers and glory, it’s the opportunity to exceed a standard that is otherwise hard to reach. It’s about self-satisfaction and only accidentally about audience satisfaction.

    FWIW, the lanterne rouge (last place finisher in the Tour de France) gets more attention than do most of the 50 riders who finish ahead of him.

    Just my opinion … subject to change as I acquire more wisdom.

    Thanks for taking this subject on in this way!

  11. What a great debate. As someone who is not really sporty but loves to take part although always from the back of the pack, I love cycling. I have such mixed emotions about the Lance Armstrong scenario. What he did was so wrong but then so was the environment in which he did it. I can’t imagine the pressures from self, fans and sponsors to achieve at that level. I can’t imagine the pressures of competing against others whose performance may be ‘enhanced’. So, although it doesn’t make it right, can it make it understandable? Hopefully, with icons like Bradley Wiggins, things may be changing.

    • I think he is a true narcissist. That interview showed all the signs of one. And it maybe just winning for him but I’m sure if he could get away with it, he would do it again. Even after all the negative attention he’s receiving.

  12. I believe that sports should be outright clean from the very outset.Competition in all kinds of sports must be participated in an equal playing field be it basketball,soccer,boxing,cricket, much less cycling which has caught the world media centerstage with the admission of Lance Armstrong’s drug-aided 7 consecutive victories.How did he managed to evade detection from the organizers is a queston that lingers in all the 7 years that he won? If the pro cycling body is a really credible organization running cycling competions all over the world, all the races will be worth watching and following.I cannot judge Armstrong for all the times that he cheated but he should be held accountable to the cycling world for all the successes that he made that now turned sour.

  13. Sports is an obsession and a need to win for power over the universe, the body, the self. Inside a great driven athelete is something trying to prove or hid themselves. I commend him for going Oprah and admitting he is a flawed human being. We are all flawed and we all have bad sides to us. I hate the dumb stupid horrible crap that I do. Oh well.

  14. I think anyone who has followed his career – and those of other top riders who have since come clean – knows the whole sport is a disgrace, and winning without cheating is basically impossible. The money associated with sporting ‘heroes’ is the sickening yet driving factor here. Systematic, team sanctioned doping occurs when the spoils of victory (be it money or publicity) are vastly disproportionate to the spend on anti-doping. That’s one of the main reasons why the gap between the drugs available and the tests to detect them continues to grow.

    “Sports, as I am in the process of arguing, is a spiritual power. It casts a shadow of power over all facets of life. Sports are beautiful, life-giving, healthy, fun, and created by God.”

    On a different note – not the place for a ‘God’ debate – and i see the sentiment with regard to sport. But for some people it’s none of that – and in fact can be a major point of trauma when growing up. I know kids who hated sport – kids who just aren’t that coordinated, or just don’t get into it. If you’re talented at art or music or drama or math or anything that you find passion in – you can equate the same idea of it being a ‘spiritual power’. Is sport any more or less valid as an argument than any other passion?

    • yes and yes . . . I think you bring out a great point that I didn’t cover in the article – and probably a really important topic to follow on the heals of this discussion. Regularly, sports shows its supremacy over the other extracurriculars that you mention when it comes to school funding – cut a music program here, pull back an art program budget there, but God forbid anyone touch the school sports funding. It only serves to further marginalize students with equally valid gifts and interests (art, drama, etc. as you mention). Great point and thanks for helping me along the way here!

      • A pleasure. Thanks for the reply.

        Sport certainly does show its supremacy in terms of funding in comparison to other extra curricular activities – and that grass roots bias is the starting point of the cycle. Shouldn’t we be asking ourselves why we are educating our kids to worship elite athletes – and not, say – elite scientists, or physicists, or musicians or dancers etc.

        We educate our kids within a system that puts sporting prowess at the top of the pedestal – and academics and music and arts down the bottom – then we’re surprised that we’re raising generations of athletes who will do anything to feel the rush of ‘winning’ and reap the benefits of success.

  15. People like Armstrong continue to make the area of philanthropy to be looked through a cynical and sceptical lens.
    In India, the river Ganga (Ganges) is supposed to be a holy river, whose waters can make the sins of people wash away. This makes every other person in the country who is nearing death to take a dip in the polluted stream. Also, it is believed that doing philanthropy or donating would make the sin deficit account credit some virtue points.

    I am reminded of Steve Jobs’s disgust at the idea of the same. Funnily, this article mentions another piece by Wired magazine which compared Jobs with Armstrong.

    http://blogs.hbr.org/pallotta/2011/09/steve-jobs-worlds-greatest-phi.html

    Wonder where are the people who till few years back flaunted the yellow on their wrists.

  16. Great article. I’m not 100% clued up on the matter but for it to blow up in the way it did, it just shows how little attention is paid to the athletes originially. If stricter and more public tests were taken out, we wouldn’t be hearing these stories years later.

  17. Winning is all about immortality, or the illusion of immortality. Uncomfortable with the fact of our eventual death, we create an endless variety of illusions to keep the death-fact at bay.

    In this case winning at sports.

    And because the blogger here can’t help but include God, God–God as the destroyer of death.

    So long as we win, or win vicariously via our favorite winners; so long as we win with God, or win vicariously via our favorite gods, life makes sense. We “win.”

    Take away death, take away winning. Take away death, take away God.

  18. In Armstrong’s case, I believe it’s an issue of character more than a “monster” anyone has created. My boyfriend’s a cyclist, and he vented for quite awhile last night about Lance’s actions and interview. From what I’ve been told, Lance has always been cocky (even in his early years breaking into cycling), and a bully of sorts to other cyclists.

    Yet the hunger for winning I think is something worth exploring. When it comes to the doping issue, it seems it got to the point where so many were using these performance enhancing drugs and methods that the only way to beat the unfair advantage was to join it, and I think therein lies the issue.

  19. You wrote “Sports, as I am in the process of arguing, is a spiritual power. It casts a shadow of power over all facets of life. Sports are beautiful, life-giving, healthy, fun, and created by God”

    ‘Bollox’. Sport is a substitute for life whether watched or played.

  20. Very true what you say.

    Lets look at other aspects of this idea. Look at the vast amounts of money that is thrown around in pro sports. Huge salaries. expensive tickets, endorsements, advertising, etc. Yet as a society we allow our inner cities to rot and layoff millions of people from their job because the economy is slow.

    I hear younger people speaking with statistical perfection about their favorite athlete but they don’t know how long we have been at war or how many of our brave solders have lost their lives.

  21. In my mind, sport is a testosterone-filled man’s world. Yes, I know we have many sport opportunities for women today, but they are still considered “less than” the men’s version. Sadly. It’s about winning. It’s about my team being better than your team. And I bet you could go anywhere in the southeast and most people would tell you that if it meant their football team won the national championship, hell yeah let ‘em dope!

  22. Sports used to be something to round out human character.

    And to keep us healthy and active.

    There is no prosperity in professional sports now.

    The business of sport has sidelined society from it’s original point.

    Professionals are hardly good sports.

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  24. Winning is simply part of the sports, even if one wins over oneself. Winning has good sides and is definitely not at fault here. Winning can prove that we can go faster, longer, further. It is how you achieve those wins that make you a cheat. Majority of people cannot be blamed for supporting a winning man, we should blame them for supporting a cheat knowingly.
    It is how we treat those who obviously cheated to get where they are which is out of whack, beginning from the president, going through Armstrong and ending at cheating in class. Silent approval of such acts, treating them as part of the “strong personality image”, makes the issue harder to cure. Here we could use a good win. Start? Any case of doping should be punished really hard, maybe even including jail time, definitely with return of all financial gains for good measure and removal of all titles gained.

  25. Very well written piece you have done and I agree with you whole-heartedly. We all, even if our piece of this pie is minute, still had a role in the fiasco. Throughout all the denials of doping, I knew it was untrue. After all, hadn’t we all learned from the record-smashing in baseball? I continue to sit back and shake my head at the finger-pointing.

  26. I’m not sure I can agree that my desire to witness the best in cycling competition contributes to creating the “monster” that Lance has become. This type of thinking removes the personal accountability of sin from Lance’s shoulders. By rooting for him to succeed, or buying a Livestrong bracelet, I in no way contributed to decision to sin. He, and he alone must answer for that choice. And I do also root for that cyclist that finishes last as well…

  27. I don’t agree to the author that Lance Armstrong is the product of our obsession with winning. It is a disrespect to all those athletes who have created records legitimately and proven that winning is possible without doping. You don’t have to be a LARGER THAN LIFE character to become a public hero. Other sportsmen like Michel Jordan, Wayne Rooney, Roger Federer, Sachin Tendulkar have made themselves GODs in their own arena in legitimate ways.
    As Armstrong himself told that it was all about WINNING. And that he got so obsessed with it that not just he continued doping in all 7 TDFs but also spoiled lives of many who exposed him. While the cancer was definitely the root culprit here but there are certain realities that are to be accepted in life which he did not want to. It was all about fame and money. Yes, he had been the inspiration for thousands of cancer victims but it is like going for a confession at the church after police arrested you for murder.

  28. Every endorsement contract should contain clauses that specify that all funds paid out under the contract must be fully refunded in the event that the athlete is found to have used performance enhancing drugs at any time before entering the contract, or during the term of the contract. Additionally, the sport governing bodies should have the athlete warrant that any and all such contracts in place at the time of entry to an event contain such a clause. That will end doping once and forever.

  29. As a man who has generally had no interest in sports throughout my life but have considered myself a spiritual man, you’ve given me something to ponder; sports’ spiritual power.

  30. No doubt that the Lance Armstrong situation does feed the need to win obsession for Americans but I believe that the author is confusing sports with professional sports where the athlete has a lot more to lose or gain.

    As with fireandair, I do consider myself as a nerd but grew around sports and played the most brutal of sports, football and believe that I become a more confident person because of it. Please don’t put amateur sports in a bad light with professional sports.

    • fair enough . . . there’s a great discussion to be had in regards to the professionalization of sport and what it has done to the sport itself – your distinction is important

  31. This makes me think of this quote, “With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”
    ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

  32. Great Post!
    Another said case scenario about a professional athlete who made the wrong choice and tried to capitalize on it and got caught. How did he ever think that he could get away with it. I guess there are some of those out there that do.

    Truth and honesty will always prevail.

  33. Very interesting, thought-provoking post. Yes, we’re obsessed with winning, but even more, I think we are obsessed with creating heroes and idolizing celebrity. Lance and all of the others had no place to go but down. (If you’re interested, read my post on a related topic.)

  34. “Winning”. What does it mean? Is it more than a scoring mechanism for social ranking? Is the obsession with winning in sports abstractly any different than any other social ranking scheme? Most subscribers on YouTube? Newest Nike sneakers? Most expensive handbag? I submit that the obsession which you question is an obsession over social rank.

  35. I think the obsession of winning is innate, it is so interlinked with humanity, it is indistinguishable. I have been following this story closely for years because I am a big fan of cycling and I feel there was a split in the opinion of the people. It was a feeling between the anger that he has taken performance enhancing drugs to win or the fact that he spent so long lying about it. If you watch old videos of Armstrong now against videos of Wiggins, Schleck or Evans, there is no competition. Armstrong blows them out of the water because he was on drugs, he rarely looked like he was suffering, nor did he hold back. But I digress, what Lance Armstrong did was nothing that nature didnt tell him to do, yes there may be a superficial obsession with winning in society but if you bring it back to the dawn of man, it was a matter of life or death. Thats why men love sports, its so masculine to compete(like tribal warfare) and to win means you are the worthy mate for a female. Lance wanted to be at the top and he was, he was celebrated and thats what his genes needed him to do, to be celebrated and for him to have the best resources. Thats why you get top people doing questionable actions all the time, intergrity isnt in human DNA, there is no use for it, life sees it as an excuse for weakness. Its do or die for most. However, that all being said, our bodies have not caught up to where we are today, for most people it is not do or die.

  36. Great blog, and even a greater article. I do not agree with the expression “means to an end” and from my point of view that’s exactly what he did….a person with a true character does not put a big price on money, fame etc. For me that means to sell your soul, you cannot feed your ego with superficial things like lots of houses, cars and so on, and forget about your soul. I do have to say I respect him because he admitted using enhancing drugs, not a lott of people would had the strength to come clean like he did.

  37. The correlation between human behavior and social-economics is inextriably linked and henceforth will always have a significate impact on how we as human beings act. But the question which should be raised here is about our “value system” as a society. In a capitalist system driven by competition and net worth and social class there is always temptation and an immense pressure to quote, unquote succeed at any cost. Lance Armstrong is not some anigma but merely a by product of a morally and ethically bankrupt culture. In no way I’m I excusing his behavior because we all have the power of personal responsibility and should be held accountable for the choices we consciously make but if we are gonna be explicitly honest and forthright in dealing with this issue wholeheartedly we must go to the root of the problem.

  38. Pfffff Armstrong…. Just a horrible human being. And not because of the drug use. But apparently this guy couldn’t care less who he destroys just to win a bike race. This is the opposite of sports! Once again I am talking about his almost diabolic character. The drugs I don’t care about and to prove it here are 11 sportsmen that we even respect for their drinking skills!

    http://lordsofthedrinks.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/top-10-drinkers-in-football/

  39. Hey! I loved your post! You are absolutely correct that, as we put more and more focus on the athlete’s output as opposed to the journey itself, we open our society to negative side effects. I recently wrote an article on steroids in sports where I admit that, within the narrow scope of sports, steroids do not have to equal “unfair advantage” (think what it would mean if everyone took them).

    However, like yourself, I am more concerned with the broader implications. And, for me, the ingestion of steroids for the sake of making our bodies more “efficient” in its production of results (i.e. competitive wins), is a symbol of how modern man is dehumanized and we become little more than machines.

    Anywho, absolutely loved the post and happy to see someone else considering the broader implications of steroid use in professional sports.

    Sincerely,
    Julien Haller

  40. We have become so obsessed with being the best – that we have forgotten what best means. I think Best means giving back – as Steve Jobs says in one of his lectures – that we as human beings are constantly taking from this pool of human creativity/creations – and to give something back to it – contribute to it so that others may benefit from it – that is a very satisfying feeling”. I think that to me is really winning. BTW check out my related blog – about our obsession with Sport Teams and building new stadiums for them here – http://citizenzen.wordpress.com/2013/01/26/are-sport-teams-bankrupting-our-cities/

  41. Great discussion, the comments are just as interesting as the post itself. A lot of varied opinions on the meaning of “Winning” itself. It’s the age old philosophical debate; Is it the journey or the destination that matters most. I suggest that sports were created to reinforce the higher principles of humanity as much as they were for fitness and fun…hence the term, “sportsmanship”. Winning at any cost and other scorched earth policies exist in many places; Politics, Business, Warfare, etc. Sports were meant to remind us that it doesn’t have to be that way and there is a higher road to aspire to.

  42. I neither condone, nor endorse the use of drugs in sports. That is a choice any athlete makes in the full knowledge that first and foremost it may be detrimental to health, and secondly sanctions will most likely follow any detection.

    Ultimately, it is the athlete that ends up at the “pointy” end of the debate of drugs in sports.

    But what about the corporate sponsorship that pours billions of dollars into sport each and every year, little is ever said, and reading through many of the foregoing comments highlights this.

    Do you really think they throw this sort of money at sports and athletes’ to see average results? No, they want to see bigger and better, faster and higher…records broken.

    Let’s spend a little more time looking beyond the athletes’ – that is if we really want to stop the use of drugs in sports.

    I suspect the “big end of town” couldn’t careless, as long as they get the return they want for their sport “investment”.

  43. You can win without cheating. You gain more respect that way. He knew what he was doing, and it was his obsession about winning that was wrong. He’s a good example of how winning at all costs is wrong. Definetely worth a dissertation paper or two.

  44. Sports like everything we do in life requires trust and faithfulness. There is no justification for false or lies beacuse it will catch up with you one day. He will lose everything that mattered because of this. I know he wish that he was not caught but truth will always be truth.

  45. I truly wish someone would see if he has ever been treated for RAD (Reactive Attachement Disorder). Given his background it would not suprise me. All of the symptoms are there including being born to young mom, several dads, sense of abandoment and behavioral signs.

  46. Reblogged this on More is More and commented:
    Cheating is Cheating. End of story. There’s a saying “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” It’s understandable. However, Indivuals must be held accountable for their actions because of the power modern media entails.

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