Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 30, 2013

One more reason athletes shouldn’t be our heroes

Joe Elerson
Athens Daily Review

Athens — There comes a time in life when sports fans look up to certain athletes for their accomplishments and want to call them heroes.

But one question continues to come to mind no matter what sport we are watching.

Why do the athletes who we strive to be like find ways to let us down on a daily basis and get away with things for so long?

Millions of Americans watched as a cycling legend gave his non-heartfelt confession in a two-part series with Oprah Winfrey to try and set the record straight about his doping during seven Tour de France titles.

All I can say on the confession is: shame on you, Lance Armstrong.

This story just proves people we consider heroes have no business being called a hero.

Yes, Lance did do amazing work for his Livestrong foundation which he was a part of, but as a sports star he continued to find ways to ruin people’s lives.

He found ways to lie in numerous interviews but ultimately he found ways to keep his cheating scandal within the sport he trained so hard for to be the best athlete he could be every race.

But once he got in front of a camera for Oprah Winfrey’s show, he folded within the first five minutes of the interview.

He claims that there was no way he could win those titles without taking the drugs.

Isn’t that an obvious statement since no player or team has ever won that many world titles in consecutive years?

It’s amazing to think no one saw any red flags or questioned even harder how one person could find a way to pass every single drug test he was administered before a race or during races and never failed one of those test.

I respect the words of ESPN columnist Rick Reilly, who said in numerous interviews and on the ESPN website after Armstrong’s confession that it would be hard to accept the apology of Armstrong — who lied to him for 14 years.

“I guess I should forgive him,” Reilly wrote in his Jan. 17 column. “I guess I should give him credit for putting himself through worldwide shame. I guess I should thank him for finally admitting his whole magnificent castle was built on sand and syringes and suckers like me. But I'm not quite ready. Give me 14 years, maybe.”

As a sports fan, he was definitely someone I looked up to because no one could compete against him.

Now, he is one of many athletes I cannot stand to see because he could not do things the right way and let his emotions get the best of him.

He wanted to find ways to win no matter who he hurt and no matter what he had to do to live up to his nickname of “The Boss.”

The best he can say now for his cycling career is he was the third best cyclist at the Tour, which came during a return trip to the sport in 2009.

But once again, he found a way to disrespect his teammates, his sponsors, the media and his fans who watched him compete in France or every other cycling event he participated in during his career.

It’s just sad the legacy he is leaving behind is one I will definitely say is a failure since he has a lifetime ban from the sport, no Tour de France titles and no Olympic medal.

He has also lost all of his sponsorship deals, many friendships that he had while on the Tour and countless journalists who feel betrayed by one of the most celebrated athletes in his field of competition.

If by making the confession he felt he would get some sympathy votes, he definitely did not get any from me.

We saw the true Lance Armstrong come out during the interview, and he is a monster many people probably do not want to see again.

It will take time, but hopefully he will find a way to change his ways and give a truly heartfelt apology to all of the people he hurt for so many years.

As for me, I won’t be holding my breath.

Joe Elerson is a staff writer for the Athens Review.