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Dying is losing: sport philosophy

Oct 29, 2009
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"I felt like if I died I'd be losing something pretty important; that's what dying is to me, dying is losing..."

The (paraphrased) quote above is from Lance Armstrong. It's pretty clear there are no fence-sitters when it comes to this man, for cyclists either love him or loathe him. I admit I fell off the fence ages ago and into the latter's yard.

I gotta say, with more than a little understatement, that the man's athletic achievements are quite something, and his philanthropic activities are admirable even if, as some argue, inefficient and maybe even a bit self-serving. I admire his riding style if not his overkill tactics. He seems to believe certain issues in the sport are unmentionable. He's a bit in the pocket of some unsavoury corporations, but he has a pretty good sense of humour from what I can gather.

The guy has won seven tours and has power and riches aplenty. So why is he still flogging the same dead horse? Why come back for more of the same with what is inevitably going to be a worse outcome? Professional sport is a young man's game, and a pretty selfish one at that.

I imagine some responses will mention a possible entry into politics or to further the work of his charity/companies. I think there's something else there, something deep-seated that always has been there: the poor guy is insecure.

There's a lot a personality of his standing could do. I wish he would do it instead of playing mindgames with youthful, single-minded men who don't give a fig about the problems of the world and who happen to awfully good at pedalling bikes.

Back to the quote, there's a real tragic pathos to it. Death isn't something you can beat. Losing, in this sense, is inevitable. No palmares or toys or kudos or power or popularity is going to overcome it.

LiveSTRONG while you can, preferably in the service of others, and don't get too attached to it in the process.
 
Dec 8, 2009
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Insecure? Not quite the mot juste.

I mean, insecurity probably is an underlying force driving all athletes, but to me the word itself usually implies weakness and impotence. The insecurity that drives athletes, however, is a strength building, empowering force. But, yeah, you're probably right, given that caveat.

But I'd like to think that a big part of why he's come back to the sport is simpler than that. I think he just might like it! We're all staying fit longer. People aren't aging as fast as they used to. Hell, I'm 56. I still want to race. So maybe it's just that he's still fit and he wants to compete. Because he's Lance he's got to make up a bunch of excuses for why he's doing this, but maybe it's just because he LIKES it! He likes to race his bike! Likes to compete!

Okay, now all the cynical people can start posting.
 
Jun 9, 2009
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Wondering why anyone does anything is an exercise in futility. Speculation on the matter can only lead to assumptions, many of which will be false. The psyche of any human is an amazingly complex thing. The psyche of pro athletes are commonly pathological with any of a number of specific diagnoses.

It's safe just to either root for him, root against him, or not care either way.

Enjoy the sport for what it is, a bunch of guys on bikes trying to get to the finish line first or help a team mate along the way. Any other notion complicates the simple purity of racing.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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CycloErgoSum said:
"I felt like if I died I'd be losing something pretty important; that's what dying is to me, dying is losing..."

The (paraphrased) quote above is from Lance Armstrong. It's pretty clear there are no fence-sitters when it comes to this man, for cyclists either love him or loathe him. I admit I fell off the fence ages ago and into the latter's yard.

I gotta say, with more than a little understatement, that the man's athletic achievements are quite something, and his philanthropic activities are admirable even if, as some argue, inefficient and maybe even a bit self-serving. I admire his riding style if not his overkill tactics. He seems to believe certain issues in the sport are unmentionable. He's a bit in the pocket of some unsavoury corporations, but he has a pretty good sense of humour from what I can gather.

The guy has won seven tours and has power and riches aplenty. So why is he still flogging the same dead horse? Why come back for more of the same with what is inevitably going to be a worse outcome? Professional sport is a young man's game, and a pretty selfish one at that.

I imagine some responses will mention a possible entry into politics or to further the work of his charity/companies. I think there's something else there, something deep-seated that always has been there: the poor guy is insecure.

There's a lot a personality of his standing could do. I wish he would do it instead of playing mindgames with youthful, single-minded men who don't give a fig about the problems of the world and who happen to awfully good at pedalling bikes.

Back to the quote, there's a real tragic pathos to it. Death isn't something you can beat. Losing, in this sense, is inevitable. No palmares or toys or kudos or power or popularity is going to overcome it.

LiveSTRONG while you can, preferably in the service of others, and don't get too attached to it in the process.

I don't think Lance can move into politics; although I will agree with his logic concerning US investment in cancer research; but we've seen him talk on late-night shows and elsewhere, and when the dialogue is off the point, he appears confused and uncertain, and mumbles his replies.
 

the big ring

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Jul 28, 2009
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CycloErgoSum said:
"I felt like if I died I'd be losing something pretty important; that's what dying is to me, dying is losing..."

The (paraphrased) quote above is from Lance Armstrong. It's pretty clear there are no fence-sitters when it comes to this man, for cyclists either love him or loathe him. I admit I fell off the fence ages ago and into the latter's yard.
...

Latter being "loathe"? Coz the rest of your post, and the fact that you even took the time and energy to write such an epistle seems to belie your claim of "loathing".

From my POV, I neither like or loathe him. I'd rather read stories about the cycling exploits Merckx, Hinault or Mockridge or follow the new breed of rider like Bobridge, Phinney or Pooley.
 
Mar 10, 2010
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lance has got a lot of people inTO CYCLING thinking hey well if he can do it i can win 8 tours instead of 7 which is good in a way..sort of gave a perception to young kids that its easy to be a pro cyclist and make millions like it is in baseball basketball hockey etc...but theres no way round it pro cycling is cruel savage viscious !!!.. and any other word thats worser than the words i said hehe.
Basically youre best friend has to be youre threshold if you dont like youre threshold it just aint gonna happen hehe..
hardest sport in the world by far... KIDS IF YOU READ THIS JUST CAUSE LANCE MAKES IT LOOK EASY ..THINK ABOUT IT TRY IT FOR A YEAR OR 2 BEFORE LEAVING COLLEGE TO BE A PRO CYCLIST