The Lance Factor

Lance.  Love him or hate him.  Almost everyone has an opinion.

And no, I’m not referring to Lance Bass – formerly of the ’90’s band N’Sync.  Duh – I’m talking about Lance Armstrong.

You know…Juan Pelota.  Tour de France winner.  Livestrong founder.  Alleged cheater.  Former husband to Sheryl Crow (Wow…I fit in two singer references in the first 50 words of this post). 

source: xtri.com

It’s been really interesting to watch all the hoopla surrounding Armstrong’s (re)entrance into the sport of triathlon.  Yes – at one time, he was an amazing junior triathlete.  We all know about his post-cancer cycling exploits.  We’ve all seen “The Look”.  But it’s as if he’s the Second Coming or something.  The savior for a sport that is lost on its own success.  The shining beacon of stardom in a relatively low fidelity group of half-stars.  The one guy on the planet that can propel a niche sport to the mainstream.

I’m not sure I buy it.  Now, I’m not going to pretend that Armstrong isn’t one hell of a competitor or athlete.  Besides – that would be a moot point.  Anyone who can put up a 2:01:13 bike followed by a 1:15 half marathon in a 70.3 is a certifiable stud.

I’m just not going to hitch my wagon to the concept that our sport is nothing without him.  I suspect that some of our sports “stars” would beg to differ as well.  Crowie.  Macca.  Chrissie.  Boom Boom.  These are the stars of our sport. 

Perhaps the “best of the best” aren’t household names to every Joe Sixpack in America or any other country around the world.  Maybe that’s a good thing, though.  Just look at the “notoriety” that comes attached to being a world famous athlete. 

Nope.  I do hope Lance is successful in triathlon – for whatever his personal reasons for competing are.  But a savior he is not.  Is he good for the sport?  Maybe.  He absolutely brings a spotlight to the sport which I’m not sure we needed.

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5 thoughts on “The Lance Factor

  1. We all know Crowie. Macca. Chrissie. Boom Boom, the general population doesnt, I bet most people dont even know Chrissie, the face of our sport. Lance will bring the spotlight to our sport, just like he did with cycling. No one cared about the TdF before Lance except the cycling community. Not many care about triathlons besides us, him being in our sport will only make it more visible.

  2. Thanks so much for bringing this conversation up. Lance is a great athlete. No doubt but I am totally over him. He is bringing great coverage to triathlon but it is the pioneers of this sport that are the true studs! And my hat goes off to them!

    FYI, he and Sheryl never got married. She came to her senses!

  3. Interesting perspective on the topic and I probably tend to agree with you. And, while I love following the true standouts in the sport, Chrissie, Macca, Crowie, etc. I have to say that in my world, the age groupers are the ones who make the sport what it is. There are so many local “hero’s” in my eyes that I can only dream of being as good as them someday! Love the post!

  4. I think Lance is beyond amazing! I disagree on one particular point you’ve said, however I have been guilty of it too, but becaome more aware of it since I have been out of triathlon for a season. The point was: “I suspect that some of our sports “stars” would beg to differ as well. Crowie. Macca. Chrissie. Boom Boom. These are the stars of our sport”… “Stars of OUR sport”? What um so cycling isn’t a sport, and he isn’t a star and fyi Crowie lives behind me boom boom just thought Id mention that one, I often see him running about… Getting back to point – And our it’s like your saying triathlon is a society/ different world. i could go on about this… but I wont… haha, just annoys me that it’s such segregated sport. I hope Lance does change the sport cos it needs a ‘facelift’… 🙂

  5. Well said! I get a bit tired of triathlon latching onto any non-triathlete who comes to the sport. We had a similar situation here in the 1990s in Australia when a high profile Olympic swimmer started competing in triathlon. Sure, she blew everyone out of the water in the swim but that’s only 16% of the race …

    I agree with what the previous commenter said about the sport being segregated but triathlon is a sport in it’s own right that doesn’t need to rely so much on the hype around people switching to the sport. It’d be like boxing endorsing Anthony Mundine more highly than seasoned boxers just because he was a league star who switched to boxing. Sure, he might (or might not – I don’t know anything about boxing) deserve the endorsement and hype now that he too is a seasoned boxer, but in that first season or two it was a bit ridiculous to pretend he was more than a rookie.

    Anyway, I don’t follow the pros because it’s not my thing. I would much rather watch age groupers do the rounds any day – particularly the athletes near the middle and back of the field who are just normal people who might train 3-5 times a week when they can fit it in with their day jobs and family commitments. To see them finish and achieve means more to me than to watch people for whom it is their job (i.e. people who I expect to perform just as I am expected to perform in my day job).

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