MSNBC took it down, but here is that lovely artcile Ron Borges wrote on Lance Armstrong not being an athlete.
Great feat, but not a great athlete (Lance Armstrong winning Tour impressive, but it’s not athletic)
MSNBC ^ | July 24, 2002 | Ron Borges
Posted on Friday, July 26, 2002 10:25:25 PM by jern
“Great feat, but not a great athlete Armstrong winning Tour impressive, but it’s not athletic
July 24 — Someone postulated on National Public Radio a week or so ago that Lance Armstrong was the greatest athlete in the world. Greatest athlete in the world? I wonder if he’s an athlete at all.
CERTAINLY ARMSTRONG IS A HELL of a bike rider, but does that make him superior to Michael Jordan, Barry Bonds, Jerry Rice or Marion Jones? Does it make him a better athlete than the Williams sisters? Does the ability to sit on a skinny bicycle seat for hours on end and pump your legs like a madman make you a great athlete or merely a guy who does better without training wheels than most people?
If Armstrong is a great athlete, so are marathon runners. Athletes, for my money, must do more with their bodies than pump their legs up and down. If that’s all it took, the Radio City Rockettes would have to be considered the greatest athletes of all time.
It seems inevitable that Armstrong is going to win the Tour de France on Sunday for the fourth straight time, barring any unforeseen bicycle accidents. This is a great feat in his sport, so good for him, but who really cares?
For the past two weeks, there have been regular reports about how the Texas-bred cancer survivor was going to catch the field of mostly foreign bike pedalers after they entered the Alps and beat them down the other side to the Champs-Elysse and under the Eiffel Tower.
A few skinny men and women seem quite excited about this prospect, although Armstrong has done it with the kind of regularity that has made more than a few advocates of this fringe sport wonder if he’s pedaling on premium fuel while his competitors are (mostly) using regular.
Whatever Armstrong is doing, most of the sporting world couldn’t care less. Newspapers annually kill a few trees to print stories about this race, and occasionally it is mentioned on network news with the required picture of a bunch of bikes bunched together and one guy wearing an ugly yellow shirt. After that, they move on to curling news.
ESPN SportsCenter updates us daily on Armstrong’s whereabouts because that is what they do. They also had a special last week on a dog competition that involved running through tiny gates and jumping over small fences. Draw your own conclusions.
That a man can race around France on a bicycle and live to tell about it is a noble feat, although I’d think more of it if he actually was using his feet. It would be more of a feat if he was forced to dine on French cuisine each night too and then lug those heavy sauces around with him the next morning. After a week of that it would be the Bus Tour de France because everyone’s bicycle seats would be broken.
Armstrong’s task is most certainly a difficult one, but so is the world lumberjack contest, and no one goes on National Public Radio and argues the winner is the best athlete in the world. He’s just a guy who operates an axe better than the rest of us.
I would argue the same is true of Armstrong. He can pedal a bike better than anyone. He probably didn’t even need training wheels. But could he do it if someone was playing defense?
How fast is he when they take the bike away? Is he as fast as Marion Jones? Is he as fast as Chipper Jones?
For my money, being the greatest athlete in the world involves strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, mental toughness and the ability to make your body do things that defy description. Chief among them is not pumping your legs up and down while your feet are strapped to bicycle pedals.
Do not misunderstand me. Lance Armstrong’s feat of winning the Tour de France, if he indeed does it for the fourth time, is deserving of praise and recognition.
If you want, you can even argue that it is a great sporting feat. After all, there are people out there who actually think golf is an athletic endeavor, although I feel if it is, so is pool. In recent years, a minority of media members in America have tried desperately to convince us that fringe sports such as cycling must be given their due. It is a passion of theirs to try and convince the rest of us American sports fanatics that the less we see of something the better it really is.
Fine for them. Just don’t be trying to give away the title of world’s greatest athlete to a skinny guy from Texas who sits on a bicycle seat for nine hours a day careening through the mountains, tall though those mountains might be.
Praise Armstrong’s grit, his determination and his cardio-vascular system. But don’t try to convince me he’s the world’s greatest athlete. First try to convince me he’s an athlete at all.”