Lance Armstrong. A guy who will forever be associated with cheating, lying and winning. An image forever tarnished and irreparable.
Like Tiger Woods, Mark McGuire, Michael Vick, and a laundry list of other sports stars destined for infamy for all the wrong reasons, it begs to ask the question: should we simply allow athletes to do whatever it takes to win?
Now before I am accused of promoting cheating or drug use or both, I want to make one thing crystal clear: Doing drugs of any kind is wrong.
People who make that choice as adults will live with the consequences legally, physically, socially and financially. What Lance Armstrong alluded to in his interview with Oprah last week was the "culture" of cheating. It is wide spread and it is not just in the sport of cycling. And as the world rolled its eyes at a man who is quoted as saying "it didn’t feel like cheating," somehow I can understand how he felt.
Maybe because I am intrigued by people in sport who take it so seriously, they will sell their soul to succeed. Lance sold his soul. But he is not alone. Make no mistake, there are parents in Westman, possibly reading this column, who would sell their soul to have their kids make the NHL. While most parents in our area pack the hockey bag and the coffee to watch their kids at 7 a.m. on a Sunday hoping to see their kids score a goal or two, there are others who see it differently.
Investing in the best sticks, equipment, summer programs, personal coaching, weekend hockey camps, special trainers and anything else that can give them the upper hand in getting to "the show."
I will never forget the story of a minor hockey team in our area that had coaches with the audacity to offer the team Red Bull before a game. At age 7. Whatever it takes to win. So why not level the playing field?
If you’re an adult and you want to take that road, should you be allowed?
This summer the National Baseball Hall of Fame will induct players into its hall of fame. Everyone inducted this year had been dead for decades. Why?
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens didn’t get enough votes for entry. Only the eighth time in the sport's history no one was voted in. It is the first year of eligibility for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the best hitter and pitcher of their era. But the two players are tainted by the use drugs.
The problem is simple. Money.
Reggie Jackson’s first year of Major League Baseball had him earning $85,000 a year. Magic Johnson’s salary was $500,000 in 1979, and Mike Bossy made a cool $50,000 in 1977.
Now, Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets will make that in a game. The highest paid player on the Jets roster will bring in almost $65,000 per game this season. Contracts for NHL players now are in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. When there’s that much money on the line, many people will do whatever it takes to win.
According to Forbes magazine, Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has the highest average annual salary in hockey at $9.5 million. But that’s nothing compared to basketball. In the NBA 60 players made at least $10 million last season. Major League Baseball teams paid 90 players eight figures in 2012. The going annual rate for a star NFL quarterback now starts at $18 million per year. There’s just too much at stake.
We asked Morning Mess Facebook friends their thoughts:
Ashley Shane Mckay: I very well don't think so. Athletes who don't take drugs such as steroids or other PEDs work hard to get at that level. Taking PEDs is just another word for laziness and cheating.
Beverly Malchuk: They should be allowed to. I agree with Tyler. Coffee is a stimulant as is sugar giving you an energy boost!
Kim Longstreet: Hey Tyler when we slave the drive through line-up to face the day it shows that we are followers — not leaders. As with the athletes, we are saying we are somebody if we have a brown coffee cup in our hand when we enter work in the morning.
Dawn Nicole: If we allow professional athletes do PED it sets the example for our children. Personally I don't care about these so-called athletes but I do care a great deal about our children on an amateur level thinking they need to dope in order to win.
Joni Menzies: No way! What example would that set? I want my children and the rest of the world's children to know that it takes drive, determination, and hard work to achieve a goal. Not some "miracle" that gives them "power" for the moment. That's where good parenting comes in. You have to teach your children to be able to differentiate those things. You have to build your child to have their own character. To realize that they, in themselves... are who matter. No matter what anyone says or thinks of what they wear, like, listen too, etc... That’s what makes them unique. We as parents are here to teach, nurture and allow growth of our children.... not make puppets... it’s up to us... to build a viable future.
Scott Dyer: You can't compare coffee to PEDs! Would this conversation even be taking place if Lance Armstrong drank six cups of coffee before competing!? I don't think so.
Rachel Koroscil: PEDs and blood doping have a lot of negative effects to them as well that can be fatal. If we let these drugs come into sports legally, we very likely would lose a lot of potentially great athletes to the drugs they use. What message would that send to young kids and athletes?
You’re right Rachel. Then there is Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Chris Farley, Marilyn Monroe and the list goes on. Famous people who made the choice and paid the price.
We make choices as parents, as coaches and as athletes. Is this kid who can afford the $300 graphite stick, best skates and gloves, best organic food, trainer, supplements and performance enhancing summer camps and extra ice time have an advantage over the kid who has just as much drive and heart, but has hand me down equipment and skates on an outdoor rink?
In a perfect world, in a "Movie of the week" story we want THAT kid to succeed. We want THAT kid to make the NHL. We want that kid to go "rags to riches."
But this is reality. This is not the movie of the week.
Again, I’m not advocating the use of drugs. But if you’re involved in sport, you need to ask yourself some serious questions. Why am I, or my kids playing?
Because referees are getting punched in the face. Parents are getting into fist fights with coaches and kids in locker rooms across Westman are taking vitamin/herbal/energy supplements every day sports are played. Why? Because in the end, we can’t have it both ways.
JOKES This Week
• Lance Armstrong: "The accusations make my blood boil .."
". . but luckily I've someone else's in my fridge."
• What do Lance Armstrong and I have in common? We both never won the Tour de France.
• I'm always getting down on myself as I feel I haven't accomplished anything in life.
Then I realised, I have as many Tour de France wins as Lance Armstrong!
• I guess this makes Lance Armstrong a drug pedaller?
•Lance Armstrong has flown into New York to confront doping claims.
It would have been more convincing if he'd used a plane.
BIRTHDAYS this week
Lynn Drummond Kerr
Carole Aurelie Leonide
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 26, 2013