Methinks that if Lance Armstrong were innocent of charges he doped during the Tour de France, as he maintains, he wouldn’t avoid arbitration, where all the evidence, pro and con, could come out. He wouldn’t, without this forensic fight (where he could vindicate himself), just submit to the likely fate of being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, piles of victory money, a lifetime ban from the sport, and a tarnished reputation.
But Lance hasn’t let me down. Instead, I’m elated. Because for several years, Lance Armstrong made me feel like shit. Here’s this pro cyclist who got testicular cancer and not only didn’t die but came back and won the Tour de France seven times in a row.
In contrast, I muddled through those years. Some days, it’s still all I can do to not spill my coffee, remember to wash an apple before eating it, or write a blog post. I had shoulder surgery last spring and needed to ask for an extension to meet a deadline. I remember beating myself up, thinking, Lance Armstrong would have beaten the deadline and, arm in sling, won another Tour de France.
But now I see that would be because … Lance was doping. I might have been able to get my work done on time and even win the Tour de France (or at least a stage of it) if I’d doped! Thanks to the news about Lance, I no longer feel like shit. A great, smelly weight has been lifted.
Tiger Woods’s likeness seemed to grace every ad in every airport just a few years ago. Land in London, deplane in Dulles, stopover in Stockholm, and there was that big poster with a focused-as-hell Tiger Woods lining up an impossible-for-mere-mortals-to-sink putt. The caption: “Be a Tiger.” Message: It wasn’t worthwhile anymore to “be yourself.”
Worse, Tiger dominated pro golf while being a great guy and perfect family man! I decided not to have kids because I figured I’d lose them in Lowe’s, but this guy could be a father while gallivanting all over the globe winning millions of dollars beating the best of the best in a game I can’t play without losing all my balls — even those shameful fluorescent orange ones. Once I had to strip naked and dive into a water hazard to fish for some balls just so I could play past the third hole. The last time I golfed, it was cold, and it took me so long to get through nine holes that the recently-retired literature professor I had thought it would be nice to take golfing (because he played every day) ended up catching pneumonia and almost died the next week.
But it turned out Tiger wasn’t a great guy or perfect family man. I was relieved to learn about the real Tiger, the one his wife almost beat to death with a nine iron. At the time, I thought I was just enjoying some Schadenfreude, a little guilty pleasure, but eventually I realized that the entire affair boosted my low self-esteem.
Then there’s the trouble with Harry. The photos of the prince romping and rumping butt naked in Las Vegas brought me as much joy as those older pics of him in Nazi regalia. Even a prince can personify poor judgment.
So now I’m grateful for these guys’ falls from grace. Lance and Tiger and Harry aren’t perfect. They’re … human — a lot like us.
Hang in there, fellows. If we could forgive Martha Stewart, we can forgive you. But don’t reform right away. Let me enjoy this up-tick in my self-esteem just a little bit longer.
Brian J. Foley is a law professor and comedian and author of A New Financial You in 28 Days! A 37-Day Plan.
COMING IN SEPTEMBER
A Special Memorial Issue of CounterPunch
Featuring recollections of Alexander Cockburn from Jeffrey St. Clair, Peter Linebaugh, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Mike Whitney, Doug Peacock, Perry Anderson, Becky Grant, Dennis Kucinich, Michael Neumann, Susannah Hecht, P. Sainath, Ben Tripp, Alison Weir, James Ridgeway, JoAnn Wypijewski, John Strausbaugh, Pierre Sprey, Carolyn Cooke, Conn Hallinan, James Wolcott, Laura Flanders, Ken Silverstein, Tariq Ali and many others …