Lance Armstrong was once the greatest of stories in sports. He fought hard against an ugly opponent, fought just as hard against the terrain in France and won it all. We were there with him, rooting for the American who conquered the impossibly difficult French course again and again. To make us admire him even more, he created a charity, Livestrong, to help those with cancer, and that was a wonderful thing and raised millions of dollars. Now it's all gone: the honor, the glory, and the legend. Lance Armstrong has given up the fight against the USADA, and we all feel defeated because he is a lost action hero.
In the film Die Hard the evil terrorist Hans Gruber tells trapped New York cop John McClane that this time Grace Kelly doesn't walk off into the sunset with John Wayne. McClane corrects him and tells him "Gary Cooper," but maybe Gruber was on to something happening to American culture. Of course, in the end McClane wins in the movie, but this is no film. This is real life and the hero doesn't walk off into the sunset; Armstrong slinks off stage defeated and destroyed.
It has been a hard year in American sports. Simon and Garfunkel once sang, "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?" The problem is not just that Joltin' Joe has gone away, but so have those of his ilk whom we could admire, and there is no one to replace them. Sadly, I do not know when we can regain our confidence in sports figures or if we ever will. And, as Armstrong finally accepts his fate (and perhaps the legal action that will follow him), we can only hang our heads in shame because of him and the other American sports figures who cheated or have done wrong. We have fallen so very far into a dark abyss, and we are left to wonder when we will ever see the light again.
Photo Credits: Armstrong-biography.com; Ye Shiwen-guardian.uk.co